Alpha X Tunnel Tests, Part 2
Alpha X vs. Other Aerobars
The previous page of testing showed us what we really wanted to know: namely, that the Alpha X can turn an entry-level frame into a superbike. Of course, some people simply want to see some plain apples-to-apples comparisons pitting the Alpha X against other aerobars. In particular, I'm sure many readers would love to know how the Alpha X fairs against some other bars. We wanted to know that too, so we made sure to carve out the time for this test. Here are the results:
As we can see, the Alpha X is a marked improvement over our previous Alpha Classic, already a very fast bar in its own right. We didn't run quite as many comparitive tests as we did in our testing of the Alpha Classic, in part due to time constraints, and in part due to the fact that what we're really after is knowing how good the Alpha X is compared to its predecessor. The other bars we chose to compare against, the 3T Ventus and the Zipp Vuka Alumina, serve as guideposts to ensure that our data is consistent with our previous tests. Nevertheless, they also provide an insightful comparison to just how the Alpha X fares against other types of front-end solutions.
Below are some reference images of our testing setups. Note that these were taken hand-held, so the perspective may not match perfectly from shot to show. However, each setup was measured to have a pad stack within 5mm of the baseline (except for the high-stack tests, which were +40mm).
Another feature we wanted to test was the Alpha X aero-matched spacers. We include four of them with every Alpha X. These spacers have a number of innovative and patent-pending features. First, they each add exactly 10mm of true stack (not the 9mm of stack that a standard 10mm spacer adds when you put it on a 72-degree steerer tube). Second, they are split at the back to provide easy-on, easy-off swaps even when you have brake cable housing running through them. And third, as their name suggests, they match the aero profile of the bar/stem combination sitting above them.
So we tested our P2 in two different configurations. First, with the Alpha X slammed, and again with all four spacers sitting beneath it. We hoped that the aero-matched spacers would be fairly low-drag. What we found was astonishing, and rather unexpected: The Alpha X aero-matched spacers are aero-neutral.
You read that correctly. Use as many stem spacers as you like, they're not contributing any measurable drag in the context of a complete built bike. This is a huge win for riders wanting to use a higher-stack position who don't know the best way to do it. "Should I keep the bar low, and add an extension spacer? Or should I keep the extensions against the bar, and just use stem spacers?" Well, you can do whatever you like, because the air doesn't care. Personally, I like keeping the bar slammed for aesthetic reasons, and I have long arms that can absorb the stack pretty easily. But if you have shorter arms, maybe you want to keep the bars a bit higher. Whatever you want to do, the Alpha X will accommodate, and stay just as smoking fast. This was a rather surprising result, and what others in the industry have called a "happy accident" of the wind tunnel. The numbers spoke loud and clear - so stack away!
The data we collected leads to a solitary conclusion: the Alpha X is fast. We completely reached our goal of bringing superbike speed to the standard frame, and we're incredibly proud to show you the result. And while aerodynamics are a critically important piece of the puzzle, keep in mind that they are just one aspect of all the great features that define Alpha X. We hope we've provided information in a thorough and transparent way, to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. Thanks for reading, and when you're ready, get your Alpha X now!