“When Felt engineers designed a new bicycle for the U.S. women’s team pursuit squad they tried to overcome a problem that few knew existed. As it turns out, the aerodynamics of track racing are very different from those of traditional road cycling.
Their efforts created the TA FRD track bike, which has its drivetrain on the left side.
The design is no gimmick. Exhaustive wind tunnel testing and analysis showed that specific wind angles on a velodrome have a significant impact on the rider. Track cyclists always travel in a counterclockwise direction (it’s all left-hand turns), so more turbulent air flow over the left side of a track bike versus the right. Since drive-side crank arms are more aerodynamic than non-drive-side crank arms, moving the drivetrain to the left side reduces the portside drag.
Felt also redesigned the frame tubing to be asymmetrical from left to right, which also improves air flow at yaw angles specific to the track. Felt analyzed each airfoil section of the frame for optimal aerodynamics based on that section’s location on the bike.
Engineers embraced emerging 3D-printing technology during the design phase: The mock-up of each tube was printed in-house after engineers drew the initial shapes. The tubes were then assembled and the mock-up was taken to the wind tunnel for testing. After testing and tweaking, carbon molds were built from the final 3D-printed model. It took four years, but Felt developed a pursuit-specific weapon in time for a run at Olympic gold.
While the women’s team (already world champions) fell just short of their Olympic aspirations, earning silver, Felt’s TA FRD track bike was a success.”