Every July hundreds of thousands flock to the Champs-Élysées in Paris—and millions more to their televisions and computers—to witness the dramatic conclusion of the grueling three weeks of the Tour de France. There is no better measure of the worldwide love of the bicycle. But of the 1.2 billion cyclists traversing the world’s roadways and trails, few of us take the time to consider the science behind the sport. The simple process of getting about on two wheels brings us in touch with a wealth of fascinating science, and here journalist Max Glaskin investigates the scientific wonders that keep cyclists in their saddles. Cycling Science tours readers through a wide variety of topics, from tire rolling resistance and the difference between yield strength and ultimate strength, to the importance of aerodynamics and the impact that shaved legs have on speed. Each chapter explores a different subject—fundamentals, strength and stability, materials, power, aerodynamics, and the human factor—and is organized around a series of questions: What is the ideal frame shape? What is the biggest source of drag? What keeps a bicycle from falling over? How much power can a cyclist produce? Which muscles does cycling use? Each question is examined with the aid of explanatory diagrams and illustrations, and the book can be used to search for particular topics, or read through for a comprehensive overview of how machine and rider work together. Athletes have much to gain from understanding the science of their sports, and Cycling Science will be a must-read for cyclists of all stripes—professionals, recreational riders, and anyone seeking to enhance their enjoyment of cycling.
About the Author
Max Glaskin is an award-winning science and technology journalist with a special interest in cycling. He has contributed to a vast range of publications, including New Scientist, Reader’s Digest, and the Times (London).
“For Cycling Science: How Rider and Machine Work Together, British cyclist and journalist Max Glaskin mined hundreds of scientific studies and academic papers for findings that he explains in accessible language. The book is organized around a series of questions and answers framed to educate professional and recreational riders as well as the scientifically curious. The questions range from the practical (What is the most efficient bike design?) to the speculative (Why might plasma be the future of bike materials?). Each answer is accompanied by a terrific set of infographics.”
— Boston Globe
“This book explores everything from the aerodynamics of bicycle helmets to reaction times to finding the perfect bicycle frame, drawing on studies from disciplines such as physics, brain science, and biology. Its accessible format and broad range of topics make it well suited to satisfy the curiosity of the casual recreational rider, or even the hard-core cycling enthusiast.”
— Globe and Mail
“Max Glaskin’s Cycling Science straddles the space between popular accounts typically found in cycling enthusiast magazines and the more academic treatments of David Gordon Wilson or Edmund Burke. It’s a fairly large gap, but Glaskin spans it ably. Approaching its subject from the standpoints of both rider and machine, the book covers all the basics of human performance and how a two-wheeled conveyance converts that into the world’s most efficient transportation system. Illustrations are perhaps the book’s greatest strength: Prior to the back matter of notes, glossary and index, not a spread goes by without at least one.”
— David Schoonmaker
“Usually, coffee-table books are for browsing and display. Here is an exception. This book has enough content to get the attention of readers—from those interested in bicycling as a mode of transportation to those who work out on bicycles to professional racers. . . . The excellent illustrations facilitate understanding of the operation of this least polluting of all mechanical systems of transportation. In six chapters, the author covers an enormous amount of material related to the materials, design, manufacture, and physics of the bicycle. There is nothing that is missing or out of place. . . . Highly recommended.”
— N. Sadanand, Central Connecticut State University
“Max Glaskin presents his ideas in a straightforward, user-friendly, and consistently informative and entertaining way. . . . Reading this book, be it from cover-to-cover or dipping into it as the mood takes you, can only enhance the experience of cycling, in whatever form you may take it.”
— Cycling Shorts
"Cycling Science by Max Glaskin guides readers through a wide variety of topics, from tyre rolling resistance and the difference between yield strength and ultimate strength, to the importance of aerodynamics and any impact that shaved legs have on speed."—Bikebiz.com
2013 Outstanding Academic Title
— Choice magazine