Tag: Gyroscope

The Bicycle Wheel as a Gyroscope

A rider leaning left will produce a torque which will cause the bicycle wheel to precess counterclockwise as seen from above, turning the bicycle left. The angulur momentum of the bicycle wheels is to the left. The torque produced by leaning is to the rear of the bicycle, as may be seen from the right-hand rule. This gives a rearward change in the angular momentum vector, turning the bicycle left.

This is a good visual example of the directions of the angular momenta and torques, but the gyroscopic torques of bicycle wheels are apparently quite small (see Lowell and McKell). The gyroscopically motivated descriptions like “leaning left turns it left” are more appropriate to motorcycles. With a bicycle at low speeds, the main turning influence comes from the turning of the handlebars.

In terms of the stability of the bicycle when riding, the association with leaning and turning

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