May 29, 2018 9:00 pm

Wednesday – Speed, Force, and Danger on Two Wheels

This week on Playing with Science, we’re speeding down the road and into the dangerous, enticing world of motorcycles. Hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly break down the 2-wheel physics of motorcycle racing and riding with adventure journalist Jim Clash and physicist and motorcycle aficionado Charles Falco. (Charles was also a co-curator of the Guggenheim Museum’s The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit.)

Ben Ratner's photo of Chuck Nice, Gary O'Reilly, and Jim Clash.

Chuck Nice, Gary O’Reilly, and Jim Clash. Photo Credit: Ben Ratner.

To start things off, we hear about Jim’s experiences on a motorcycle – or lack thereof. He tells us why he’d always been a little hesitant to hop on a bike and about his recent experience the back of a superbike. On the opposite side, Charles explains how his love of motorcycles started as an 8-year-old on the back of an old Triumph and how all work has been influenced by the mechanics of motorcycles.

Then we get into the science we want to know about. You’ll find out why motorcycle racers go almost horizontal when taking corners. We discuss what makes the Isle of Man TT one of the most difficult motorcycle races in the world. We also discuss how to be the best passenger when riding – at least scientifically.

My favorite parts of this episode revolve around motorcycle design. You’ll hear about the impact of carbon fiber on the industry, how motorcycle designers are always trying to sneak around conservative buyers, and about Charles’ favorite motorcycle.

Lastly, discover how motorcycle tires behave differently then Formula 1 tires, and how that impacts taking corners and curves. If you like this episode, be sure to tune in next week as well as we expand from two wheels to four and take on the thunderous world of Formula 1!

Please join us tomorrow night for Motorcycle Racing: Physics on 2 Wheels right here on our website, as well as on our Playing with Science channels on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen


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