In road racing, and especially in time trials, racers get all geeked out over making their position, bike, etc. more aero. The arms race to shave every last gram and make every last part slice through the air as efficiently as possible is perhaps best embodied by the Reynolds RZR wheelset that has a retail price of $6000.
Turbo is the only person I know that races on these wheels. He works for Reynolds. The wheels are splendidly light and magnificently aero. But I’d need to make a lot more money than I do now for the marginal advantage they give me to be worthwhile. They have a 82kg rider weight limit. I wonder if that’s because riders over 82kg would break them, or because if you weigh more than 82kg you’ve got problems as a racer that these wheels can’t solve?
Other disciplines of racing, notably mountain biking and cross, are a little less obsessive about weight and aerodynamics. Having tires that adequately grip the course and being in a position on the bike to handle technical terrain will yield more speed than shaving a few grams or reducing a little drag.
Nevertheless, racers in these disciplines will still seek every perceived advantage, whether it has any real benefit or not, including one that can be had for free provided the racer owns a pair of scissors and can cut straight enough to remove all non-number material from the number plate. I’m not sure if the intent is to reduce weight or to improve aerodynamics. Maybe both. Either way, I’m a big fan of the number plate trimming style I fondly refer to as “The Brazilian.”
Photo brazenly misappropriated from Cycling Utah. Go give their fall/winter issue a look and patronize their sponsors so I don’t feel guilty about it.