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Help on Cycling Physics project PLEASE

  1. May 11, 2005 #1
    Hey guys,
    I'm a student at high school in Australia. I currently have a physics assignment that states i have to explain the forces and physics of an object. I have chosen cycling. I know the basic s=d/t and a little bit on airflow and using the "teardrop" shape in helmets and frames, but otherwise i'm a bit stuck on what concepts to explain and use in my paper. I can explain stuff about the equipment (clothes, helmet, frames, cleat-shoes) or the speed, drag, momentum, terminal velocity etc (like formulas, they could be really helpful!). I also do not understand gyroscopic effects? Any help on anything to do with cycling and physics would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks all the way from oz.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2005 #2


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    One thing you should focus on is the "gyroscope" effect. Have you seen the experiment where a person stands on a turntable holding a rapidly spinning bicycle when by the axis? If the person tilts the wheel to the left, what happens? If you are riding a bicycle and tilt to the left, which way does the front wheel turn? How does that help you stay upright?
  4. May 11, 2005 #3

    Chi Meson

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    An easier discussion would would be of the gear ratios of the bicycle. If you look up the topic "simple machines" and the specific machine known as a "wheel and axel" you will discover enough to fill many pages on the physics involved. The concepts involved are relatively simple too.

    Key words are "force, distance, work, efficiency, mechanical advantage"
  5. May 31, 2005 #4
    You can certainly forget gyroscope effects with respect to bicycle stability. Dr DEH Jones ('Daedelus' of Nature magazine) showed years ago that gyroscope effects do not explain bicycle stability. It is fairly obvious really: it is easy to balance a bicycle even when the wheels are hardly rotating. Jones' experiments were more elaborate.
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