Aerodynamic benefit for a cyclist by a following motorcycle

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Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, ISSN: 0167-6105, Vol: 155, Page: 1-10

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Bert Blocken, Yasin Toparlar, Thomas Andrianne
Elsevier BV
Engineering, Energy
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article description
In recent years, many accidents have occurred between cyclists and in-race motorcycles, even yielding fatal injuries. The accidents and the potential aerodynamics issues have impelled the present authors to perform dedicated wind-tunnel measurements and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations to assess cyclist drag reduction when followed by one, two or three motorcycles. The 3D steady-state Reynolds-Averaged Navier–Stokes simulations with the standard k – ε model are validated by the wind-tunnel tests. The cyclist drag reduction goes up to 8.7% for a single trailing motorcycle and to 13.9% for three trailing motorcycles at a distance of 0.25 m behind the cyclist. This distance is not uncommon in elite races, as evidenced by the many recent accidents. The effect by a single following motorcycle at realistic short distances d =0.25 m (8.7%), d =0.5 m (6.4%) and d =1 m (3.8%) is larger than that by a following car at realistic short distance d =5 m (1.4%). Therefore it could be argued that in-race motorcycles are not only more dangerous but also aerodynamically more influential. This study reinforces the necessity for the International Cycling Union to change the rules concerning in-race motorcycles, not only to avoid accidents but also to avoid unwanted aerodynamic benefits.

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