The Bicycle Power Calculator Exposes the Physics of Cycling


Photo: Christa, Flickr, CC
The Spec Sheet for the Human-Bike Cyborg
This one is an oldie (1999 is ancient in internet time...) but a goodie that bike geeks will find interesting. It's a bicycle power calculator that tells you how much energy you need to generate while pedalling your bike, and it even breaks it down between the energy needed to overcome rolling resistance, air friction, mechanical losses, etc. It's pretty precise and takes into account wheel size, speed, rider position, gear ratio, tire type, etc.
Image: Screen grab of Bicycle Power Calculator website

The most interesting thing, in my opinion, is to see how quickly air resistance goes up as you increase speed. It's no secret to most people familiar with bikes and cars (and other fast things), but it's nice to be able to play with the variables (including the rider position, as some are much more aerodynamic) and see how much energy you need to expand just to move air. It can also tell you how many calories you are burning (if you want to burn more, you can figure out how to be as little efficient as possible!).

This calculator is so old school that the equations used are available on a scanned piece of paper (PDF).

See also: The 'Sperm Bike' Carries Donor Samples to Fertility Clinics Around Copenhagen

Via Penn State
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