How Does A Bicycle Work?- Explaining The Physics Of Bicycles

Have you ever asked yourself how a bicycle works? Bikes are a favorite for several people globally. Bike enthusiasts use the bike for workouts, commuting, making deliveries, racing, and even riding for fun. Riding a bike is not as easy as it might seem. The science of bike riding is complex, and it involves the rider and the bike itself. A rider balances on the bike saddle, pedals off, and voila! The two-wheeler rolls off! But what is the science behind the movement of the bike?

What Makes The Bike Move?

What Makes The Bike Move

For a bike to move from one point to the other, it must involve kinetic energy. Our bodies produce energy, which is then converted by the cycle into kinetic energy to necessitate movement. Generally, it has been proven that a bike can convert up to 90% of your energy into kinetic energy. The converted power enables the cycle to roll from one point to other. While the two-wheeler is moving from point A to point B, your momentum and balance are integral in stabilizing it.

If you are new in the riding world or plan to join, it could be best if you understood how the bike works. This article provides a detailed explanation of how the cycle functions by exploring the work of individual bike components. Keep reading to understand the science involved in bike riding.

How Bike Gears Function

The bike gear is attached to the chain, and it enables the bike to move faster by making pedaling easier. Using the gears properly will make a tremendous difference to how faster you can move in a bike.

First, you should understand that a gear is a simple machine that makes work easier. For instance, if you have a bike with a gear ratio of 5:1, be assured that a single pedal spin can push you forward by not less than 30 feet, depending on how hard you pedal.

The pedaling force makes gears spin the bike’s rear wheel, and as the wheel rotates on the axle, the tire grips the surface, and friction causes it to move in the chosen direction.

Generally, a bike moves by converting the energy generated by your legs when you push the pedals. The leg muscles are the most powerful in the human body, hence producing much-needed energy to move the cycle forward.

How Do Bike Wheels Work?

The bicycle wheel and its axle are simple machines that simplify work. Whenever you turn the axle, the bike accelerates depending on the force applied to the pedals. If you look at the bike wheel, it’s taller than the car wheel; hence a complete revolution of the bike wheel covers more distance than what a car covers.

When you take a sitting position on the saddle, the wheels take care of your entire body weight. What prevents them from squashing down under your body weight is another Mystery. The sturdy hub and spokes attached to the wheel enable it to accommodate your body weight without giving in.

Besides accommodating the rider’s weight, the spoked wheels of the bike make them lightweight and strong, as they lessen the drag while riding.

How Do Bike Brakes Work?

The bike brake is an essential component that ensures your safety when riding. Bikes come with different braking mechanisms. While some bikes use a linear-pull braking system, others use disc brakes, and in rare cases, some use coaster brakes.

Whichever brake your bike uses, the ultimate goal is to provide enough stopping power when the need arises. Bike brakes halt the movement of the wheels by way of friction.

One exciting aspect is that brakes also involve kinetic energy. Whenever brake levers are pressed, the braking mechanism jumps into action by applying a pair of rubber shoe clamps into the rims of both wheels. When the brakes apply the stopping force, they rub firmly against the bike wheels and convert your kinetic energy into heat.

The heat produced out of kinetic energy has enough power to slow down the wheel’s revolution and bring it to a stop.

How Do Bicycle Handlebars Function? 

The bike’s handlebars have two functions. While the inner part of the handlebars is used to glide the bike, the outer part is used to steer the cycle towards the desired path.

Handlebars of any bike are generally a lever that pivots the front wheel. The longer the handlebar is, the better it is at leveraging the front wheel.

 The way you position yourself on the handlebars determines how you deal with wind resistance. For instance, the closer you place your arms while riding, the less air resistance you create, and vice versa. 

How Does The Bike Framework?

Bike frames are made from carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum. The purpose of the frame is to support the rider. It comes in two triangular shapes joined together to ensure that your weight is evenly distributed.

When you lean forward to hold the bike’s handlebars, the angled frame bars ensure that your weight is uniformly distributed and shared equally between the rear and the front wheel.

The frame’s integral role of uniformly distributing your weight explains why you can’t tip backward when cycling uphill or fall forward when riding downhill.

All bike flames have a level of flexibility that allows them to bend and flex to absorb shock impacts associated with bumps and jolts.

How Do Bike Tires Work?

Your bike tires are the only component in contact with the surface and the only part that separates you from the road. Understanding how they work enables you to handle your bike with ease. What makes your bike move forward is the friction between the tire and the riding surface.

Friction provides a better grip and offers easy control of the bike. Since tires are filled with compressed air, they exhibit springy and lighter traits, offering you a comfy ride.


The way the bike works is pure science. For a bike to move, it converts your energy into kinetic energy. When braking, friction converts kinetic energy into heat that eventually halts movement. The frame’s design distributes your weight uniformly to bring balance and stability. Folks, all about riding is physics in action.

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