The Physics of Bicycles                            3


Human Power

The bicycle is a tremendously efficient means of transportation. In fact cycling is more efficient than any other method of travel--including walking! The one billion bicycles in the world are a testament to its effectiveness. The engine for this efficient mode of transport is the human body. Because bodies are fueled by food, diet plays an important role in how the body performs. Different muscle groups and types provide the power. Genetic inheritance, intensive training, and a competitive drive help top athletes push the boundaries of endurance and speed on the bicycle.

How Far Do You Want To Go?

It takes less energy to bicycle one mile than it takes to walk a mile. In fact, a bicycle can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking. If we compare the amount of calories burned in bicycling to the number of calories an automobile burns, the difference is astounding. One hundred calories can power a cyclist for three miles, but it would only power a car 280 feet (85 meters)!

A comparison of the energy cost of various forms of transportation shows that the bicycle is most energy-efficient.

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