Saturday, May 7, 2011

VIDEO: What Makes a Bicycle Balance?

Here's an entertaining video about a study done to determine what lets a bicycle balance. Keep watching because it includes a fascinating prototype test bicycle, some rare vintage cycling photographs, fun animations and more.

Interestingly, bicycle historians, like my friend and author David Herlihy, believe that it was the question of balance that kept the bicycle from being invented a lot earlier than when it was.

Even in the 1800s when we had railroads and other complex machinery, people had no idea that a two-wheeled vehicle could be balanced. So they never thought to try to invent one.

The way bicycles tend to balance themselves is a wonderful thing. Often, skilled riders will avoid crashing by relaxing and letting the bicycle geometry take over, and the bike will right itself even though just seconds before it looked for sure like the rider was going to crash.

It's a good safety tip to keep in mind: If you get in a situation where you're losing control, if you can relax and not fight the bike, there's an excellent chance that it will straighten up and keep you from hitting the deck. A good way to practice is riding off-road on a mountain bike. Speeds are slower, dirt bikes are even more stable than road bikes, and the ground is more forgiving should you fall over.

Enjoy the video!

1 comment:

Mitsubishi 3d Starter Pack said...

I like the video. Rode bikes all the time as a kid and teenager. But for some reason stopped riding as a adult. I should get back into it. Much more fun than riding at the health club. I have a question for the physics guru. Why when spinning the wheel does it appear to spin in the opposite direction?