Experiments in Fluids

, 57:181 | Cite as

Flow field interactions between two tandem cyclists

  • Nathan Barry
  • David Burton
  • John Sheridan
  • Mark Thompson
  • Nicholas A. T. Brown
Research Article


Aerodynamic drag is the primary resistive force acting on cyclists at racing speeds. Many events involve cyclists travelling in very close proximity. Previous studies have shown that interactions result in significant drag reductions for inline cyclists. However, the interaction between cyclist leg position (pedalling) and the vortical flow structures that contribute significantly to the drag on an isolated cyclist has not previously been quantified or described for tandem cyclists of varying separation. To this end, scale model cyclists were constructed for testing in a water channel for inline tandem configurations. Particle image velocimetry was used to capture time-averaged velocity fields around two tandem cyclists. Perhaps surprisingly, the wake of a trailing cyclist maintains strong similarity to the characteristic wake of a single cyclist despite a significant disturbance to the upstream flow. Together with streamwise velocity measurements through the wake and upstream of the trailing cyclist, this work supports previous findings, which showed that the trailing cyclist drag reduction is primarily due to upstream sheltering effects reducing the stagnation pressure on forward-facing surfaces.


Vortex Vorticity Particle Image Velocimetry Drag Reduction Streamwise Velocity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was conducted with the support of the Australian Institute of Sport under Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2011003347 and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication.

Supplementary material

348_2016_2273_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (906 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 906 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Barry
    • 1
  • David Burton
    • 1
  • John Sheridan
    • 1
  • Mark Thompson
    • 1
  • Nicholas A. T. Brown
    • 2
  1. 1.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)BelconnenAustralia

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