To Beard or Not to Beard, Does Facial Hair Make A Difference In the Wind Tunnel?

The Win Tunnel is an ongoing webseries on Youtube that is produced by Specialized. On the show, the engineers field questions on facebook, twitter, etc… using the hashtag #Aeroiseverything.

During this last episode they tested how aerodynamic the Portland look is, and the answer may surprise you…


Mindless - 05/22/14 - 6:53pm

So many people with racing illusions.

Why not just ride around and not care?

fleche1454 - 05/22/14 - 7:07pm

@ mindless
how else do you think they sell road race bicycles ?

greg - 05/22/14 - 8:16pm

not caring what the answers are to questions one might have…
isnt curiosity enough of a reason?
i wonder if it would make a difference if he was in a low race position, or on a tt bike. he’s sitting up so high, in a casual riding position, that any air wanting to go past the face is going to run into the neck and chest anyway. in a tt position, air is intended to flow horizontally past the shoulders, along the chest, and turn down n out around the legs. there, the beard may interfere.

Psi Squared - 05/22/14 - 8:49pm

Exactly, greg. Curiosity is enough of a reason to find an answer. That’s the basis of science and the scientific method: observe something and then wonder what explains the observation. What a boring world it would be if no one asked questions, even if some questions seem silly.

I am disappointed that they didn’t test a ZZ Top type of beard.

Benitosbro - 05/22/14 - 8:54pm

That’s not a beard, that’s stubble.

anonymous - 05/22/14 - 10:48pm

Razor is cheaper than a ceramic BB.

muf - 05/22/14 - 11:34pm

i like tests regardless, as psi said its good to be curious. i dont care if its 1s over 40km thats still a data point and its fun to find out.
of course the leg hair is next and probably about the same difference

the diff with helmet/no helmet would be interesting too

Yoda - 05/23/14 - 12:00am

So beards don’t increase drag but how much lower was his functional threshold power without the beard? I’d assume he would average at least 100 less watts during an FTP test.

thad - 05/23/14 - 12:31am

didnt take long for specialized to run out of stuff to use that wind tunnel on…

John - 05/23/14 - 1:40am

Speaking of Specialized, their website is down for three days for “upgrades”? Wut?

Joe - 05/23/14 - 1:49am


You’re correct about the positioning. We determined the beard being there or not wouldn’t affect the frontal impact area. Maybe if it was a bit longer and we tested on a TT bike the result would have been different. It was all in good fun though. Specialized asked what some people would like to see in the win tunnel, I responded with a smart ass remark, and I happened to be out there anyways so we figured what the heck, let’s have some fun. Hopefully we were able to provide at least some good entertainment for you all!

MagliaRosa - 05/23/14 - 3:19am

Well it made me smile! And kudos to Joe for sacrificing a fairly impressive beard (I don’t live in Booklyn or Portland, so for me that’s pretty hirsute) in the interests of science.

Presumably the time-gain is due to disruption of laminar flow-separation around the jaw-line and consequent reduction in drag under the chin – or something like that (can you tell I don’t really know what I’m talking about…?

ceebee - 05/23/14 - 4:34am

bearded hipsters chill on fat-bikes

Derek Patterson - 05/23/14 - 6:17am

We tested 6 lengths of beards in the mb low speed tunnel and with our telemetry equipment on the velodrome and road 1cm to 16cm all increased drag never mind they look even more stupid on a biker than tattoos which slowly poison the athlete.
Front wheel testing showed discs best then 6 spoke the 4 then 3 then the deep spoked though oval spokes the best not the cheap flattened round ones.
Long tail aero helmets that compliment the athlete all better than the short kash efforts etc.
The pros seem out of sync or maybe paid to use…

notapro - 05/23/14 - 8:01am

Aerodynamics really only work for birds. They need to test how many bugs it’ll catch and hold in one grand tour. Seriously hipsters? Man up and get a biker gang in there.

brattercakes - 05/23/14 - 10:42am

Lets just Ask Mike Friedman!

Zach - 05/23/14 - 11:59am

@Derek Patterson:

Tattoos poison athletes? Citation needed please.

Bas - 05/23/14 - 4:51pm

next: the mullet (uran is in pink, so hey… )

anonymous - 05/23/14 - 5:32pm

What if you grew a long beard that extended out towards your hands in an aerobar position creating a fairing over the chest cavity?

AlanM - 05/26/14 - 11:57am

I love that some people can take some funny like this and find a reason to still get angry. Life has got to suck for those people. Lighten up!

Ben Schwartz - 05/27/14 - 2:51pm


Apparently you’re new to the comments section of Bike Rumor. I love this site and check it pretty much every day, but good lord…the commentors consistently take the prize when it comes to the category of Internet Humorlessness.

Vadim - 08/15/14 - 11:43am

Does anyone know if they did a test bike helmet vs no bike helmet? Rider positions? Upright vs recumbent vs trike?

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