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Bicycles...getting a handle on technology

Bicycle Treasure Hunt

Exploratorium's: Science of Cycling

Visit the Exploratorium's Science of Cycling website to discover the facts behind the bicycle. Record the answers to the following questions as you research. Then test your knowledge by taking this quiz.


Answer the following questions:

You can either download the questions using Acrobat Reader or you can print this webpage, then answer the questions.

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Treasure Hunt Questions
  1. If the "Ordinary" bicycle was so dangerous, why do you think people continued to ride them?
  2. Can you explain the difference between tangential and radial spokes? Draw a diagram to illustrate the differences.
  3. Why would the pneumatic (or air-filled) rubber tire make such a difference with the comfort of bicycling?
  4. Can you name three facts that show how gears and chain drives made bicycling easier and safer?
  5. Explain why you would rather have either a bicycle made out of thin-walled steel tubing or made out of thick-walled aluminum tubing.
  6. This tutorial lists five kinds of braking systems used with bicycles: plunge, coaster, caliper, drum, and disc. What kind of brake does your bicycle have? What problems or advantages have you found with this kind of brake?
  7. Calculate the minimum stopping distance of a bicyclist on this page: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/brakes2.html. Without changing your speed, check to see how long it takes to brake on dry concrete, wet surface, sand, and ice. Record your answers.

Now, check your knowledge by taking this simple quiz:

  1. Science of the Wheel: By the late 1800's, which of following modifications were included on the bicycle?
    visit science of the wheel
steel wheels and spokes
all of these

pneumatic (air filled) tires
chain drive


  1. Science of the Wheel: Which of the following does NOT describe the "Ordinary" bicycle?
    visit science of the wheel
nicknamed "penny-farthing"
front wheel circumference was 140 inches

one of the safest bicycles ever built
designed for speed, not safety


  1. Science of Drives and Gears: How did the addition of chain drive and gears effect bicycling?
    visit science of drives and gears
better balance
pedal more efficiently

cyclist has more control on force needed to propel the bike
all of these


  1. Science of Frames: What characteristics does the building material need for bicycles?
    visit science of frames
yield strength
ultimate strength

elasticity
all of these


 

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