Motorcycle Racing: Physics on Two Wheels

Motorcycle racers Capirossi, Hayden, and Rossi during the 2005 Moto GP. Photo Credit: SCrider (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons.

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About This Episode

Fill up the tank, check the engine, and kick it into top gear – on this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly explore the physics of motorcycle racing, riding, and assembly alongside adventure journalist Jim Clash and Charles Falco, motorcycle aficionado, physics professor, and co-curator of the Guggenheim Museum’s The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit. You’ll hear why Jim has stayed away from motorcycles his whole life even as an adventure journalist while Charles’ obsession with bikes started when he was 8-years old and all his work has been influenced by motorcycle mechanics. You’ll learn what makes the Isle of Man TT one of the most dangerous sporting events in the world. Find out why motorcycle racers lean so close to the ground when taking on corners. You’ll also hear how to be the best passenger on a motorcycle, at least in terms of science. Discover more about motorcycle design: how the invention of carbon fiber impacted the industry and how designers are always trying to sneak innovation past conservative buyers. All that, plus, you’ll hear why tires on a motorcycle are different from tires on a Formula 1 car, and Charles tells us his favorite bike.  

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Motorcycle Racing: Physics on Two Wheels.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Sports Analyst, Broadcaster, Professional Soccer Player
  • Guest

    Jim Clash

    Jim Clash
    Adventure Journalist
  • Guest

    Charles Falco

    Charles Falco
    Chair of Condensed Matter Physics, Professor of Optical Sciences, Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona

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