WIT Press

Aerodynamic study of motorcycle racing wheels: A performance evaluation based on numerical CFD simulations


Free (open access)


Volume 7 (2019), Issue 3



Page Range

275 - 284

Paper DOI



WIT Press




In any racing competitions, the aerodynamic performances of the equipment are determinant. This is true, for example, for cars, where the geometry of the bodywork and of the wings can ensure a lower Cx coefficient and/or a higher down-force and a higher handling. In other competitions, like rowing, the aerodynamics of the hull can reduce the effort done by the athletes. In the cycle and motorcycle racing competitions, other aspects related to aerodynamics become important, such as the manoeuvrability and stability. In the present research, a numerical approach was used in order to compare different front-wheel geometries (of a racing motor-bike) in terms of drag, lift and axial forces. Three different wheel designs have been compared. The first one consists in a traditional seven spokes aluminium design, the second wheel is a 6 spokes magnesium solution and the third a solid-disk wheel. Steady state as well as transient simulations was performed with OpenfOaM®, a free open-source software. This was selected because it allows a higher flexibility with respect to any close-source commercial software. The possibility to customize the solver as well as the boundary conditions allows the analysis of the physical problem of interest. The free license allows a high parallelization of the computations. The steady-state simulations were performed by freezing the wheel position and introducing a rotating reference frame. In this way, the computational time was significantly reduced. For the transient simulations, the computational domain was split into two subdomains. The internal one is cylindrical and contains the wheel. The rotational velocity of the wheel was imposed by applying a rigid rotation to the mesh of the internal subdomain. Mesh interfaces ensures the continuity of the solution across the domains.


CFD, Motorcycle, MRF, performance, OpenFOAMĀ®, wheel.