Is there a better example of a flow visualization project than this bike? This paint project by Brian Szykowny and Specialized Bicycles, self titled the Flow Shiv, is a triathlon/time trial road bike painted specifically to illustrate how air flows over this aero bike. Szykowny chose to paint Specialized’s Shiv model bike, which is designed from start to finish to be as aerodynamic as possible. Szykowny’s objective was to highlight the aerodynamic design features of the carbon fiber frame, and to achieve this he used all of the equipment Specialized had to offer, including computational flow dynamics software and Specialized’s own wind tunnel.
Starting with a raw frame, Szykowny painted the colors on the frame, with red colors indicating a high pressure and green and blue areas showing low pressure zones.
The color choice was taken straight out of the visualization software Specialized uses to test new designs. The color areas were hand painted, following the template created in software.
Flow simulation software was the inspiration for this design.
Szykowny then masked the colors with with stripes that indicate the volume and direction of airflow going over specific areas. This information was also taken from Specialized’s CFD software.
With the masking applied, the black paint was sprayed on, giving the bike a more subdued and race ready appearance. As this was a project by Specialized, the company’s S-Works branding is a necessary addition.
In the end, this bike turned out to be an incredible example of applied and artistic flow visualization. I think the bike looks stunning, and the care and detail that went into this paint job is even more stunning. The best part is that this was not just an art project, this is a race ready machine, and the creators of the bike aren’t afraid to use it as such. Here you can see this bike’s lucky owner putting the bike through its paces and turning heads during a rainy time trial race.
For more information about this project in particular, check out The Radavist’s great article on the project. I also strongly encourage visiting http://veryspecialthings.specialized.com/ for more information on similar projects. The creators of these paint jobs put an incredible amount of detail into reporting their processes, and it makes for some very interesting reads. While it is not yet up, expect a full report from the creator himself on this stunning bike to be posted on http://veryspecialthings.specialized.com/ soon!
Bike and paint by Brian Szykowny and Specialized Bicycles. Images and information by The Radavist.