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Travels With An Airhead

Motorcycle Science

— by Notch Miyake

Now that the riding season has begun, I thought it might be useful to review the science of motorcycle operation.

The science of motorcycles is a branch of physics, which studies hard moving objects, as opposed to chemistry, which studies wet things. The only time motorcycles are wet is in the rain. At such times, the last thing we want to know is science.

The particular branch of physics we are concerned with is cyclodynamics. This is a science where guys wearing white lab coats and carrying clipboards conduct experiments using the scientific method.

In the scientific method, a hypothesis is made up and then tested. If the results confirm the hypothesis, then we have a Law (also known as a Discovery). At such times cyclodynamicists are known to say things like "Eureka!" and "Wow!"

If the results have no resemblance to the hypothesis, then we have shit. Cyclodynamicists tend to behave rather poorly when this happens, sometimes pulling out their .38's and blasting away. Avoid heavily tattooed cyclodynamicists wearing black leathers when they are having a bad day.

The discovery of the 1st Law of Cyclodynamics is an example of the successful use of the scientific method. A hypothesis was presented, "Motorcycles at rest fall down."

Then an experiment was devised to test the hypothesis. A Honda 250 Rebel was chosen since none of the BMW riders were interested in furthering scientific inquiry.

When they put up the sidestand on the Honda, the bike fell over. Eureka! Wow! (K1200LT riders: Do not attempt this without a tow truck nearby.)

While the 1st Law of Cyclodynamics explains part of motorcycle dynamics, it does not explain why motorcycles do not fall down when they are moving.

For this we must turn to the 2nd Law of Cyclodynamics, which says, "Motorcycles in motion do not fall down." This law was conclusively proven by the R1150GS, which does not look like it could possibly stay upright.

The outcome of all this scientific inquiry is to demonstrate that we must keep motorcycles moving to avoid falling down.

So the next time you are caught running a red light, explain the 1st and 2nd Laws of Cyclodynamics to the police officer. He will probably let you off with a warning if you are also wearing your helmet.

Remember, keep the motorcycle moving. Don't fall down. Wear your helmet. And ride safe.

— Copyright © 2001 by Notch Miyake.

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