In the TU Delft Bicycle lab different aspects of cycling are researched. Using modern engineering tools, the dynamics and the steering of bike and rider are modeled. The doctoral research of Jodi Kooijman on cycling stability led last year to an article in the prestigious Science. The question that was asked: why is a bicycle, above a certain speed, self stable? You give a bike speed and then you can just give him a sideways push without it falling.
It was always assumed that this stability is very closely related to two factors. First, the rotating wheels would provide the bike, through gyroscopic effects, with stability. And second, it was thought that the factor of trail played an important role. Trail is the extent to which the front wheel comes behind the steering axis. The publication of TU Delft in Science brings this old notion to an end. Gyroscopic effects and trail do help, but are not necessary for the stability.
This was not only theoretical but also proved experimentally. This was done with the Two Mass Skate bicycle. This bike has no significant gyroscopic effect because it has small and counter-rotating wheels and no trail. And yet the bicycle remains stable.
More information about the bicycle lab: www.bicycle.tudelft.nl
Jodi Kooijman, bicycle researcher at TU Delft, firstname.lastname@example.org