For those who pay attention to aerodynamics in cycling (and everyone should), the TriRig Omega X brake has become a common upgrade. Even if you don't know exactly what an Omega X is, you'll likely recognize it once you see it in a photo because, it's so widely popular, you've seen it on others bikes without knowing it. TriRig claims a 2 watt aero savings for their Omega X over a Shimano Dura-Ace brake, and it sells for about $185 per brake. That's a pretty steep price, but as you'll read below, we've found the aero savings to be far greater than what the manufacturer claims (a rareity), and would argue the brakes are a smoking deal. In case you don't know what aero savings in terms of wattage mean, we've broken it down into time saved in our charts below.

Real quick before we begin, our aero tests are not meant to be product reviews, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn't absolutely impressed with the performance of a TriRig Omega X brake. They set up easily, adjust very quickly to wide rims, and they actually work. In other words, unlike some aero brakes, the Omega X will stop you very quickly if called upon to do so.

Okay, let's get to our tests. This was an interesting test for me as I had heard that two aero tests showed the Vision Trimax as having the same, if not better, drag than the Omega X. For half the price, I thought the Vision would be a steal. Ah, but then I took a look at the raw data from which the results were quoted and I quickly questioned their validity. I needed to test for myself.

For this round of aero testing, we only tested front brakes. Why? Well, because time is money, and front brakes matter a heck-of-a-lot more than rear brakes. Four brakes in all were tested, though two tests utilized three brakes while a third test used only two. Three seperate test riders (2 males, 1 female) on three different bikes in three different sizes each with a separate power meter were used for testing. Multiple runs were conducted to assure consistency of the results, and boy did we find a lot of consistency! All tests were conducted at the VELO Sports Center (LA Velodrome) using the Alphamantis Track Aero System.

Bikes Tested:

  1. Cervelo P3 (pre-2014), size 51cm w/Powertap P1 power meter
  2. Felt IA10, size 54cm w/Quark Riken power meter
  3. Felt DA, size 56cm w/Powertap G3 power meter

The Cervelo and Felt IA10 were both tested with the FSA Gossamer, Vision Trimax Aero, and TriRig Omega X brakes. Multiple runs were done with each setup to insure the results were consistent and accurate. We'll use the FSA Gossamer as the "baseline" brake, and compare wattage and times savings against that brake. In case it matters to anyone, our female test rider was on the Cervelo P3. The time savings are based on the rider and their weight (including bike).

Cervelo P3

 TriRig Omega X  Watts Saved  Time Saved 40km (200 watts)  Time Saved Ironman (200 watts)
Run #1 6.4  37 seconds 2.8 minutes 
Run #2 6.7  39 seconds  2.9 minutes

 

Vision Trimax Aero  Watts Saved  Time Saved 40km (200 watts)  Time Saved Ironman (200 watts)
Run #1 3.0  17.2 seconds 1.3 minutes 
Run #2 2.6   15.3 seconds  1.2 minutes

So, on the Cervelo P3 we see the TriRig Omega X saves right around 6.5 watts, which is certainly both surpising and significant.  The Vision Trimax Aero, while impressive on it's own, offered a little less than half the aero benefit. Interesting. You can see the runs were pretty darn close to one another, and well within the margin of error. 

The Felt IA10 results are even more interesting for several reasons. 1. Similar results for the aero savings for the Omega X. 2. Virtually no aerodynamic difference between the FSA Gossamer and the Trimax Aero. 3. The incredibly consistent results we were able to reproduce again and again. Let's take a look...

Felt IA10

 TriRig Omega X  Watts Saved  Time Saved 40km (200 watts)  Time Saved Ironman (200 watts)
Run #1 5.7  30.1 seconds 2.3 minutes 
Run #2 5.6  29.7 seconds  2.2 minutes

 

Vision Trimax Aero  Watts Saved  Time Saved 40km (200 watts)  Time Saved Ironman (200 watts)
Run #1 -.2  -1.3 seconds -.1 minutes 
Run #2 -.8  -4.3 seconds  -.3 minutes

 

Okay, so obviously the numbers for the Trimax stand out, and seem odd. I, myself, would not believe them except we repeated the numbers and re-baselined 3 times in the process. The 3 separate baselines were all very close to one another, and conducted between testing the Trimax. Just for the sake of transparency, the three baseline runs were: .2949 (first run), .2950 (conducted after first Trimax test), and .2940 (conducted after second Trimax test). Those are nice and close with just .7 watts between the first and last baseline. Hard to beat that, and it certainly backs up the Trimax results which, as you can see above, were also quite close. Oh, and for you aero geeks, yes that's a high CdA, but our test rider has a big upper body with wide shoulders. Big shoulders are an aero killer. Get over it and focus on the results.

As for the Omega X, it clearly shined again. You want repeatable results? How about run one was an average of .2880, while run 2 gave us an average of .2881! Now that's consistency folks. While not quite the aero savings we saw on the Cervelo, it's still impressive that it gave a near 6 watt advantage.

Felt DA

For the DA, we used a current model Shimano Ultegra front brake as our baseline, and only tested the Omega X against it. The results were pretty much a broken record.

 TriRig Omega X  Watts Saved  Time Saved 40km (200 watts)  Time Saved Ironman (200 watts)
Run #1 5.6  28.1 seconds 2.1 minutes 
Run #2 6.4  32.1 seconds  2.4 minutes

Once again, we see an average aero gain of around 6 watts after installing the TriRig Omega X. This third test was completed several weeks after the first two. I wanted a third result just to make sure what we were seeing was, indeed, correct. I think the consistency of aero gains we see across three different bikes and three different riders removes any doubt that the Omega X offers a very nice aero advantage.

Conclusion

It's interesting that we found such a large difference between the aero savings TriRig claims vs. what we found though our own testing. Maybe we shouldn't be too surpised as we're testing the leading edge of a bicycle frame and would expect to see significant differences from different shapes. Certainly, it's a win for both TriRig and the consumers who use the Omega X. Numbers like these are not unprecedented. A properly fitted Torhans Aero 30 bottle, for instance, has shown to save 7 - 11 watts sitting right in front of a frame's head tube. Your cost per watt saved for the Omega X is about $30.80. Over the course of an Ironman, you're paying about $1.28 per second gained, which is in the ballpark of what you pay for a good aero helmet or skin suit.

I'm sure we'll gather more data as we continue to test, and if we see significantly different results, we'll post them here. We'll be in the wind tunnel later this summer and, while the Omega X isn't particularly high on our test priority list, it's possible we'll give it a sweep or two just to add to our data set and get some yaw data.

We hope this information is helpful and instructive. That's really the whole point of conducting these tests for you. It's not free for us to test, so if you're so inclined, you can donate to the aero test fund below. Thanks for reading. Feel free to ask questions.

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