Monday, December 17, 2007
The San Diego Low-Speed Wind Tunnel
BKW recently had the opportunity to tag along with a manufacturer for a trip to the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel to watch some product testing. This was our first opportunity to see the fabled facility that has tested many of the bike industry's most aerodynamic bikes and parts. It has also escaped decommission death more times than James Bond.
We can't reveal who was testing, nor the results (those are embargoed for first release by the manufacturer), but we can offer a virtual tour of the facility that has helped some of the world's great riders refine position.
The facility is built on a continuous loop. The propellor that creates the wind is positioned roughly 180 degrees around the loop from where products are tested.
The propellor blades are handmade wood laminate.
Because the wind tunnel is a continuous loop, after each run, or "blow" as they are referred to, a retractable screen must be used to arrest the air flow. Trying to change products in a 30 mph wind would be cold, unpleasant business.
The facility was designed during WWII; construction began in 1944. Prior to the invention of calculators and computers, calculations were figured by a battery of slide-rule equipped staffers. Three men now do the work of more than two dozen. These photos were taken in the early 1960s.