Bicycles & physics
October 29, 2009 6:49 AM   Subscribe

bicyclefilter: Are there any sites or books that break down the science of a bicycle?

I want to understand how a bicycle works. I have a pretty good bicycle mechanics book (Zinn and the art of mountain bike maintenance) but I want to gain a deeper understanding.

I don't have much of a physics background, but I want to understand things such as how/why the rear derailer pulley system works and how mechanical advantage and the braking system are related.

The Sheldon Brown website covers this a little bit (he does discuss MA) but I'm still looking for more sources.

posted by bluelight to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! Bicycling Science

Also, there is a journal on human powered vehicles, the IHPVA
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:51 AM on October 29, 2009

Bicycling Science is pretty much the bible.
posted by fixedgear at 6:51 AM on October 29, 2009 has great video tutorials.
posted by susanvance at 7:03 AM on October 29, 2009

since Bicycling Science was already mentioned, I would suggest Jan Heine's Vintage Bicycle Quarterly, which often attempts to investigate the mechanical advantages of vintage lightweight bicycles. There was an interesting (no, really) piece on the design &development of cantilever brakes and finding the proper arm length for maximum stopping power.

Also, seek out 100 Years of Bicycle Component & Accessory Design as well as The Bicycle Wheel.
posted by stachemaster at 7:34 AM on October 29, 2009

The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt goes into lots of detail about them.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:37 AM on October 29, 2009

Nthing Bicycling Science and the Brandt book. The Art of Wheelbuilding is another good book about wheels. While Campagnolo: 75 Years of Cycling Passion and The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles don't have a lot of technical information, both are lavishly illustrated and give a good sense of some of the historical development. Since you mention mountain bikes, Stumpjumper: 25 years of Mountain Biking, while Specialized-specific, also gives a great sense of history and technological progression.

For blogs, Bicycle Design isn't exactly what you want, but it's as close as I can think of. I think you'd enjoy reading it, anyway. You might also dig MOMBAT.
posted by box at 8:53 AM on October 29, 2009

Despite its age, one of the standard references is Bicycles & tricycles: an elementary treatise on their design and construction (don't let the title fool you, it's exhaustive). Happily, because of its age, you can download it as a free PDF!
posted by adamrice at 9:12 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

For web sites, there's Science of Cycling and this article from Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:26 AM on October 29, 2009

Park Tool's Repair Help pages are awesome. Their Headset Maintenance page, for example, is the most thorough I've seen anywhere.
posted by randomstriker at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2009

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