Cyclist Reynolds number effects and drag crisis distribution

W. Terra*, A. Sciacchitano, F. Scarano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
282 Downloads (Pure)


The Reynolds number effects on body limbs of a cyclist model, namely leg and arm, are investigated via robotic volumetric Particle Image Velocimetry measurements in the velocity range from 5 ​m/s to 25 ​m/s. The near wakes of such body limbs feature recirculation regions whose width and length are governed not only by the taper of the body parts, but also by the presence of coherent streamwise vortical structures. Moreover, the interaction with the wakes of the upstream body parts plays a role in the local wake properties. While reductions of the wake width are observed on both lower leg and arm with increasing free-stream velocity, the wake of the upper leg follows an opposite trend increasing in size at higher velocity. Such variations of wake width with the Reynolds number are related to the behaviour of the local drag coefficient, indicating a drag crisis behaviour on both leg and arm. The distribution of the so-called critical velocity upon these body segments is discussed, as it determines the freestream speed where a minimum value for the drag can occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104143
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Cycling aerodynamics
  • Drag crisis
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Reynolds number
  • Wind tunnel testing


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