An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The math of bikes: Dude, just don't take the square route

Today, a group of mathematicians will publish the definitive paper on the math of the bicycle. It seems that ever since the pedal-powered bike was developed in the 1860s, scientists have puzzled over what actually keeps a bike upright. The standard line has been that rolling wheels behave like gyroscopes, but it turns out that's only a small fraction of the science. You can read the gritty details here, or see the nifty video here, but note this study really just considers ghostbiking.

Today's "definitive review" underlines bicycles' amazing ability to balance themselves. "You can give a bike a push and it will go 50 metres without falling. Even if it is knocked sideways, it will pop up again," said Prof Ruina.

Now that science know what keeps bikes up, perhaps we laypersons can provide some insight into why bikers frequently fall down. The math looks something like this-- (32:16=1 X 1) + (16 OZ.)N = 0 MPH (where N = number of pints)