How do bikes stay upright?
From Colin Robinson
There is no definitive explanation of a moving bike’s tendency to stay upright. For a long time it was believed that the bike’s wheels created stability through the gyroscopic effect: the tendency for a spinning object to resist movement in certain directions.
A second idea was that the direction of travel aligns the bike’s wheels, a bit like when you’re pushing a shopping cart. However, researchers disproved both theories in 2011 by building a bike that negated both effects.
Many scientists now believe that the small adjustments to steering made (often subconsciously) by cyclists can better explain a moving bike’s stability.
Answered by Alexandra Franklin-Cheung for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 110
To feature in our Brain Dump section, send us your questions to [email protected] or message us on Facebook or Twitter
For more science and technology articles, pick up the latest copy of How It Works from all good retailers or from our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!