Scientific marketing

My good buddies at Special Ed. Bicycles recently set out to find a solution to a question everyone already knew the answer to: are disc brakes less aero than rim brakes? Since the day disc brakes were invented, the answer has been a resounding “YES”, but that didn’t stop Specialized from firing up the big fan and giving us another highly scientific analysis.

Why do we need these type of tests conducted in a wind tunnel that is ludicrously expensive to operate? Because the cycling world knows that aero is everything. Something like 70-90% of your energy goes to fighting wind resistance above 15mph. Every little bit counts. Wait… what’s that?

Apparently #aeroisNOTeverything  – as Chris Yu points out

I apologize. Specialized has now decided that aero is not everything. I was obviously misinformed by their previous scientific testing. Get your shit together, Chris Yu.

So aero IS everything... unless you're trying to sell disc brakes, then it doesn't matter.

So aero IS everything… unless you’re trying to sell disc brakes, then it doesn’t matter.


Speaking of scientific…


Wide open, like the gullible minds of Specialized product owners.

Wide open, like the gullible minds of Specialized product owners.

Even Bike Rader noticed it:

We did spot that the front rim brake cam was left open during the test, so it would be interesting to know if this had any affect on the result.

The only thing worse than Specialized’s test controls are Bike Radar’s editors. So Special Ed. goes through the trouble and expense of building a multi-million dollar wind tunnel, but can’t even put enough effort into their “tests” to make sure the brake cam is closed. I guess that’s what you get when you let your marketing department run your “scientific” tests.

Who's going to break the news to this guy that he busted his ass for nothing because Specialized can't even remember to close a brake cam?

Who’s going to break the news to this guy that he busted his ass for nothing because Specialized can’t even remember to close a brake cam?

Let’s be real though. The methodology and process controls don’t matter anyway. Specialized didn’t go into this “test” looking for answers, they went in to assuage the Freds of their aero worries so they can sell more disc brakes. That’s probably why they also didn’t test at over 10 degrees of yaw like they test literally everything else, because the results would have only gotten worse from there. So the test procedure never mattered. Hell, even the results don’t matter because the conclusion was always going to be the same.

As expected, at a 10 degree yaw angle the discs were a bit slower, eight seconds over 40km infact.

“In fact” is two words, just FYI. Bike Radar, if you’re looking for a new editor I can be reached by the email address in the my profile.

And of course we can’t forget that…

#aeroisNOTeverything  – as Chris Yu points out

A bit slower – 8 seconds over 40km. 8 seconds over 40km is now only a “bit”, a negligible amount that shouldn’t stop you from spending $300-600 more on a disc brake road bike so you can go… slower, but only a little slower, a negligible 8 seconds! Of course, when selling aerodynamic products, negligible amounts suddenly become reason to spend outrageous amounts of money because…



Nine seconds is plenty of reason to go buy Zipp Tangente SL’s for $85 a pop. Seventeen seconds is worth spending an extra $500-1,000+ on an aero road frame. Five seconds is enough to run out and spend hundreds on an aero crank. Two-Hundred and Fifty-Eight seconds happens to be how much slower a Specialized Shiv is than a Felt IA, but I’m sure Chris Yu would call that amount trivial too since aero is NOT everything.

Go buy disc brakes. That was the conclusion before the test even started. That was the conclusion the test was created for. Be free, Freds! Yea though ye cycle through the valley of the shadow of drag, ye shall fear no wind for Specialized art with thee; their poorly controlled testing procedures and marketing-driven conclusions, they comfort thee.




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