All-day gravel races require riders to carefully balance the practicality of carrying spares and supplies with seeking every advantage possible by keeping weight low and getting as aero as possible. As experts in technical bikepacking equipment, this got the team at Apidura wondering: what if your bikepacking bags could actually make you faster?
Having pushed the limits of aerodynamic performance within UCI rules, it’s a question Ridley was also considering. Could the Ridley Kanzo Fast — already claimed to be the world’s fastest gravel bike — be made even faster with aerodynamically optimised bikepacking bags?
Testing in the Bike Valley wind tunnel, we found that a poorly optimised bikepacking setup could be costing gravel racers up to 17.5 watts at 40 km/h. Picking the wrong packs could quite literally offset the advantage of a deep section wheelset, skinsuit or aero bike. Clearly there were improvements to be found.
With the challenge defined, we kicked off a six-month development project to make the fastest gravel bike possible. The result is a custom Ridley Kanzo Fast featuring Apidura’s new Aero Pack System and Hunt’s 42 Limitless Gravel wheels, with no stone left unturned in pursuit of speed. The concept bike will be raced by Nol van Loon of Fat Pigeon at this year’s Unbound Gravel.
The Apidura Aero Pack System features the first-ever bikepacking bags developed in the wind tunnel to make a bike faster. At 40 km/h, the Top Tube, Frame, and Rear Pack make the Kanzo Fast 16.66 watts faster. Even at 32 km/h, the average speed for the front of the pack at Unbound, the packs save 2.4 watts. Adding an Apidura Racing Hydration Vest to Nol’s setup further increased this to 7.67 watts.
At such comparatively low speeds, these savings are significant and roughly match the savings you would expect from switching to a set of deep-section carbon wheels or a tailored skinsuit. On top of the aerodynamic improvement, the packs also add significant storage space to the bike, optimised for easy access on rough terrain.
The packs are the most complex and technically advanced we have ever made, using 3D printed modules to smooth the transition from the frame to the packs and innovative new openings that are completely flush and self-closing. Internal bonded structures create streamlined shapes for smooth airflow and data-driven designs ensure the packs are completely concealed from the wind at low yaw angles. Each of the packs features a new fabric design that testing revealed to be 5.7 watts faster than our standard Hexalon at 40 km/h.
Nol’s Kanzo Fast has been custom drilled so the packs can be direct mounted for improved aerodynamics and stability. The rear mount utilises the existing mudguard mount and replaces the dust cover on the seat post for an extremely low profile and secure finish.
The design of the packs pushed our technology-driven Precision Crafted approach further than ever before. The complexity of the shapes and the need for smooth transitions and flush mounts stretched welding techniques to their limits and relies on advanced 3D printing techniques to perfectly match the bags to the frame.
The Apidura Aero Pack System is a one-off concept currently but, as with all Apidura Innovation Lab projects, the learnings can be expected to be applied to future Apidura products and find their way into existing products where they add significant value over existing processes.
More information can be found at: https://www.apidura.com/journal/apidura-aero-pack-system-packs-that-make-you-faster
- A poorly optimised bikepacking bag setup could cost a gravel racer up to 17.5 watts at 40 km/h, offsetting the benefit of deep section wheels, a skinsuit, or an aero bike.
- Apidura and Ridley have created concept bikepacking bags that make the Ridley Kanzo Fast 16.66 watts faster at 40 km/h.
- Apidura’s Aero Pack System comprises of a Top Tube Pack, Frame Pack, and Rear Pack made from a custom fabric that tests 5.7 watts faster than standard Hexalon at 40 km/h.
- 3D printed mounts and an innovative new self-closing opening ensure smooth airflow and maximise the space available in the packs.
- Nol van Loon is using the Apidura Aero Pack System at Unbound on his custom Ridley Kanzo Fast, featuring Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel wheels. Alongside his creative team at Fat Pigeon, he will create a documentary exploring the development of the packs and his Unbound experience.
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