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 

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