Technology & Design
Einstein, the famous physicist loved riding his bicycle. Perhaps it
was a feeling of freedom while riding that resonated most. Or maybe
Einstein appreciated the bicycle's simple elegance and efficiency from
a physics perspective.
Following Einstein's lead, physicist David Newman of the University
of Alaska, has investigated the bicycle and found it the most efficient
form of transportation available on earth. The
energy needed for bike travel at a given speed is less than any other
mode of travel. Bikes are more efficient even than walking or mass transportation.
this extreme efficiency also accounts for the bicycle's popularity in
many parts of the world. Wikipedia
estimates nearly 1 billion bikes exist world wide, twice the number
of automobiles. In many parts of the world, the bicycle is the main
mode of assisted transportation.
the bicycle's appeal is enhanced by it's technological versatility and
cost efficiency. With recent advancements due to mountain bike design,
bicycles can now travel across a wider range of terrain than nearly
any other mode of transportation and at lower cost.
the bicycle transcends our Western understanding of technology and offers
us a new path. For many Colorado Rough Riders, this alternative understanding
of technology is a most intriguing aspect of cycling.
Philosopher Martin Heidegger and others suggests modern technology consumes
resources and destroys the earth while providing humans with power on
demand. But humans themselves, like the earth become slaved to technology.
Certainly the automobile and modern power machinery enslave us in ways
we don't like, even if we don't understand fully why.
Bicycling is different. It's like clean climbing technology. In the
past, we old mountaineers would bang pitons into cracks as protection
while leading a pitch up a cliff. Now we use "cams" and "nuts"
which don't scar the rock when placed. Although they provide great protection.
Cams and nuts can be reused for years since they easily release (usually).
In other words, the environment is no longer consumed when using clean
Responsible bicycle travel also minimizes scaring or consumption of
the environment. Although we rely on pre-existing trails and roads,
a bicycle's impact can be quite minimal. Just as important, self powered
travel is renewable. Very different than burning scarce resources that
must be extracted from the earth. With cycling, the earth is no longer
a mere resource of consumption.
offer an alternative, earth friendly, life renewing approach to mixed
terrain travel, the Colorado Rough Riders actively promotes advances
in bicycle science and technology. We encourage everyone to dive deeper
into the mysteries of the bicycle. Who knows, you may discover a way
to make bike travel even more efficient and versatile. At a minimum
you will likely make your own bike and life a little better.
More about Bicycle Science, Technology & Design:
Bicycling Science (2004), David Gordon Wilson
Covers a variety of subjects from aerodynamics, human physiology, power
transmission, steering and stability, materials and more.
The Bicycle Wheel (1993), Jobst Brandt
One of the must have books for wheel builders. Covers the forces acting
on bicycle wheels and the building of wheels that best resist those
Designing and building your own Frameset (1979), Richard P. Talbot
Covers the physics and design issues of framebuilding.
Lugged Bicycle Frame Construction, A Manual for the First Time Builder
(2009), Marc-Andre R Chimonas. A manual for inexpensively building your
own bicycle frame.