Fat Aero Wheel Mystery

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I found this Battaglin picture. Notice the heavily bulged FIR front disc wheel and how the fork blades splay out around the bulge. I vaguely remember a story about a late 1980s Giro d’Italia prologue in which a team tried to use bikes with wheels described as such. Is this the bike? I don’t know, and my OCD won’t let it go till I do.

I did find a tiny picture of a similar wheel from a page on the mad Pino Moroni, genius tinkerer to the kings of cycling, the demon of drillium. Native of Italy, resident of Detroit, Moroni’s handiwork with components made Merckx’s hour record bike into 12 lb marvel. In the late ’80s, his services were retained by the Italian cycling federation. It can’t be a coincidence.

I want to know the design rationale behind the bulged wheel. Was it, as one poster hypothesized, to block the wind for the rider’s feet and pedals? Or was it to improve crosswind aerodynamics? Were bike designers even thinking about crosswind performance back then?

I should ask Steve Hed…I bet that guy would have something useful to say about aero wheels.