When the Wheels Come Off

This is perhaps painfully obvious to everyone but me and if so, sorry I’ve yet again wasted  your time. The other day, after falling off another floating board in the ocean I had to admit my balance might suck. And my coordination too or I might have been good enough at baseball to actually like it and play it. Nope, ball sports are right out. What I want to celebrate is the fact that our bikes have two magic gyroscopes spinning underneath us. You want to sit up at 40 kph, casually reach behind and tuck your gilet under your jersey? Be my guest but you can only do that because of the gyroscopes, not your awesome balance. If good balance was required to ride bicycles every prat and his brother wouldn’t be chatting on their iphone while zipping down the lane.

Descending at great speed is so damn much fun because the bike is rock solid when hauling such mighty ass, until it isn’t and that is is pilot error, not the fault of your dualing gyroscopes. To quote one of Maine’s greatest exports, Yvon Chouinard, “speed is safety”. He was talking about mountaineering and the need quickly get across exposed couloirs to avoid potential rockfall or avalanche but it’s also true for cycling, to a point. OK, he could have said speed is stability if he was more of a cyclist.

Does this mean we shouldn’t own deep section carbone wheels, with their lighter rotating mass providing less momentum? No, folly my friends, the deep section wheels are spinning faster because you are going faster due to the aero-awesomeness of those wheels. A year into my tubular tire/50 mm Cancellara carbone wheels and I’m more chuffed than ever about them. Unless it’s raining heavily and I’m descending then, not as chuffed. But I digress, that is another lecture.

So far so good. What the hell is absent minded professor talking about? All this spin angle momentum and torque should have us riding in circles not going in straight lines. That is your weekend homework. Test on Monday. Buon weekend.

 

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53 Replies to “When the Wheels Come Off”

  1. @stooge

    After riding a balance bike for a year or so, my son recently started learning how to ride a bike. I put training wheels on. At first, he found it difficult to turn, as he would lean and nothing would happen. On his balance bike, he seems to like to get up some good speed, lift his feet and put them on the chainstays, then lean and turn.

    My daughter also had a balance bike for about a year, when she was around 3, but we never used stabilisers on her first pedal bike. We went to our local park, found a downslope, and after no more than 15 minutes of falling she was pedalling and riding.

     

  2. @davidlhill

    @stooge

    After riding a balance bike for a year or so, my son recently started learning how to ride a bike. I put training wheels on. At first, he found it difficult to turn, as he would lean and nothing would happen. On his balance bike, he seems to like to get up some good speed, lift his feet and put them on the chainstays, then lean and turn.

    My daughter also had a balance bike for about a year, when she was around 3, but we never used stabilisers on her first pedal bike. We went to our local park, found a downslope, and after no more than 15 minutes of falling she was pedalling and riding.

    I began with no stabalisers, but put them off after he struggled. He struggled with the weight at first. It’s more than double the weight of his balance bike. He got the hang of the weight pretty fast, but then it was turning the pedals thing. It looks to me like he just doesn’t have the strength in the legs. He likes to train at it for about 20 minutes, then asks for his balance bike, then asks to go to the BMX track. Seems keen so I’ll let him find his way a bit. He’s just turned 3 and I’ve got him on a 14” Specialized Hotrock, which might be a tad big. It’s a lot of fun helping him out, and brings back some pretty special memories which I would otherwise have forgotten. Looking forward seeing him have that Eureka moment.

  3. When a rotating wheel (gyro) is rotated off axis (ie. leaning in a corner) a torque is produced on the wheel in the opposite plane (ie. turning left or right). i don’t believe these torques to be high enough with a road bike wheel though to keep you up. you feel the ‘stiffening’ of steering at high speed due to this though.

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