Saving seconds with new tech
3 Kona starts, 2 wins, 1 course record: good, but not good enough. Ironman World Champion Patrick Lange and Canyon are pushing for more, working together in the wind tunnel and on the road to squeeze every last watt out of rider and bike. And they are using a revolutionary new measuring technology developed by Swiss Side to get the job done.
The past few years could hardly have gone better for Patrick Lange. The current Ironman World Champion recorded two resounding wins at Kona, and remains the first and only athlete to have ever completed the World Championship course under the magic eight-hour mark.
And the man from Darmstadt, Germany has already made a flying start to the 2019 season. At the end of his training camp in Asia, Lange won the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam in the burning Danang heat against a strong field packed full of talent.
But Patrick and Canyon are doing anything but looking back and admiring their work. Every win, every championship performance, requires painstaking levels of preparation and focus.
Canyon always strive to bring out the best in their athletes, pulling out all the stops to make every watt count – because over 180 kilometres, every single watt can make the deciding difference.
“Canyon’s role goes so much further than just preparing and providing bikes,” explains Wolfgang Kohl, Product Engineer at Canyon. “Through extensive testing and deep collaboration, our athletes can draw on our in-depth expertise – and get even faster. We are always open to new methods and techniques, and we constantly implement new concepts and ideas to fulfil our claim as a leader in innovation and technology.”
Wind tunnel testing plays a significant role in this process. “In the wind tunnel, the aim of our work is to understand more about aerodynamics. It’s not about just improving the bike, but also optimising the athlete and their Speedmax CF SLX together as a system,” says Kohl.
To pursue this goal, in the third week of May, members of Canyon’s development team met Patrick – and his wheel and aero partner, Swiss Side – at the Immenstaad wind tunnel in the south of Germany. Their goal: to carry out a series of tests and implement aerodynamic improvements on Lange and his Speedmax: first under controlled conditions in the tunnel, and then in real-world conditions on the Salzburgring race track. Kohl explains: “During this round of testing, our aim was to understand exactly what is happening behind the rider.” To do this, Swiss Side developed a new technology to measure the airflow behind Patrick.
Jean-Paul Ballard, CEO and co-founder of Swiss Side, explains: “In the wind tunnel, together with Patrick, we unveiled a world first in cycling – our bike-mounted pressure measurement system. Using the system, we can make accurate comparisons with our wind tunnel tests and CFD simulations, to learn if our changes result in tangible real-world improvements.”
The data collected in the tests is key in improving Patrick’s aerodynamics on the bike. “I’m very proud to be the first athlete with access to Swiss Side’s new technology. I’m convinced its value will show in my upcoming races,” explains Lange.
Kohl adds: “In the future, together with Swiss Side, we will be able to run virtual tests on multiple setups, and then validate the data in the wind tunnel or on the road. This way is much more efficient than traditional methods. Patrick will reap the benefits directly, and in future, other athletes will too.”
For Patrick, the trip to the wind tunnel was well worth it: “We’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves and go as fast as we can. With the Kona setup from 2018, that was far from easy, because it was pretty close to the absolute optimum. But we did it. Innovations like this really show what good work my partners Canyon and Swiss Side are doing, and how they are constantly developing their processes. Working like this is the only way to make true progress.”
This constant optimisation and innovative high-tech research doesn’t only have an upside for Patrick. Canyon also benefits immensely from working closely with its athletes. The pros’ highly valuable feedback goes straight back into developing the bikes, so every Canyon rider can reap the rewards in the saddle.
Kohl concurs: “In the long term, we aim to gain as much expertise as possible, and pass it on to our customers through our bikes.”