A $300,000 Study on How Bicycles Work?
While the movements of bicycles may seem fairly straightforward to most people, Washington is a bit confused. Apparently feeling that "even the simplest models of a bicycle with a rigidly attached rider have yet to be completely understood," the National Science Foundation spent $300,000 on a nearly four-year study of how bikes work.
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The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis and was titled "Human Control of Bicycle Dynamics with Experimental Validation and Implications for Bike Handling and Design."
Despite the extensive research that goes into designing bikes for events like the Tour de France, the study begins by claiming that the last century of research "has resulted in no useful design guidelines for the construction of bicycles with desired handling qualities." Worse yet, "Deeper questions regarding the fundamental control methods and objectives of a human rider also remain unanswered."
The researchers distilled their results into a slide presentation that establishes key points like the fact that bicyclists use their eyes, ears, and sense of touch while riding. The slideshow also features video of a researcher attempting unsuccessfully to ride a bike on a treadmill.