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Video: how do bikes stay up?

The three mechanisms that allow riderless bikes to stay up - and the part that remains a mystery to science

"Perhaps more incredible than humans riding bicycles is the fact that bicycles can ride themselves".

Once set in motion, a bike can stay upright and, if knocked from one side, will steer itself so the wheel once again ends up under the centre of mass, allowing it to continue in the new direction.

But how does it happen?

As this illuminating video, by Minute Physics, explains, with a lone bicycle eerily heading off across a field by itself, it's down to three main mechanisms, which are all related to the bike's ability to steer and right itself, given enough momentum.

Although this helps explain the mechanics behind Bradley Wiggins' self parking bike, the exact combinations of variables which work to make the bicycle stay upright on its own still aren't known to science, leaving a tantalising degree of mystery. Enjoy!


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rootes | 8 years ago

Here is an article on the same subject from Physics Today 1970

hampstead_bandit | 8 years ago

who would have thunk?

good stuff

Spangly Shiny | 8 years ago

So, if I want to make my bike less twitchy I need to tie a bag of sugar to the front of the front rack (that it doesn't have), is that right?

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