How bicycles keep the rubber on the road

Engineers try to explain the surprising stability of two wheels

4:58pm, April 14, 2011

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Bicycle abuse isn’t something you’d expect from the Dutch. But engineers in the Netherlands who love bikes enough to hurt them are challenging long-held beliefs about how a moving bike keeps its balance even when slapped, shoved or otherwise insulted.

The team has found previously unidentified factors that help a bike stay upright and has developed a slew of unusual designs that wouldn’t have been thought to be stable.

“We believe there is room for improvement in the handling qualities of bikes,” says Arend Schwab, a professor of engineering mechanics at the Delft University of Technology.

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