Bicycling Science

A recent article discusses fifteen ways to cycle faster, so as to stay ahead of the e-bikes (via AmsterdamFietst). Some of the information is from a book called Bicycling Science. I had never heard of that book, but apparently it’s a classic which - among many other things - lists ‘some prescriptions for increasing speed at medium- or high-power levels’. These will not come as a big surprise: A combination of tight clothes, good body position and an ‘aerodynamically clean’ bicycle can reduce drag by 50% or more. Through training, a ‘basically fit rider’ can increase power by up to 30%. And of course, cyclists should properly inflate their tires. Reducing bicycle or body weight doesn’t seem to help much, at least not for cycling on a flat surface.

Bicycling Science is a technical book, but occasionally the cycling enthusiast gains the upper hand. For example, in a discussion of slope resistance, this observation pops up:

The author remembers riding up a hill with a maximum slope of 1 in 3.5 (grade of 30%), possibly Porlock Hill in Devon, United Kingdom, on a three-speed heavy bike (i.e., one having a low gear of around 36’’).

Much of the information in the book is too technical for me. Nevertheless, it’s fun to page through, if only for the intriguing graphs and for quotes like this:

Human observers are notoriously suggestible. When told that a given bicycle is special for some reason (carbon forks, selected by a world champion, designed for hard cornering), they easily convince themselves that it is.

And last but not least, the book has a great cover (designed by one Derek George).

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