What a piece of work is a bicycle!

“What a piece of work is a man,” said William Shakespeare. And what a piece of work is a bicycle!

But when you put them together… that’s when the superlatives really come out.

The bicycle is often called the best invention in history. With the same effort as walking, a person on a bicycle can travel up to five times the distance.

A new book Cycling Science reveals the secrets behind how this simple concatenation of metal and rubber performs such engineering marvels.

There are fascinating facts galore in Cycling Science. Here are just a few:

-       Getting a lightweight bike would save an average novice cyclist 25 seconds across 25 miles, but getting fit would save 5 minutes 30 seconds.

-       Bikes first had full (back and front) suspension way back in 1890.

-       Spoke tension is set by wheel builders who pluck the spokes and tighten them based on the tone produced.

-       Some frames actually push you forwards, not backwards, when designed to make use of the same mechanism which gives a plane's wing lift.

In chapter 1 of my first book Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling, I wrote about how reflecting on the design and science of the bicycle adds inspiration to each cycle ride, and that by learning about how bikes work, we can feel more at home in a complex modern world with all its technical challenges. Cycling Science comes highly recommended.

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