NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1084824
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-9120
Exploring the Aerodynamic Drag of a Moving Cyclist
Theilmann, Florian; Reinhard, Christopher
Physics Education, v51 n1 Article 015001 Jan 2016
Although the physics of cycling itself is a complex mixture of aerodynamics, physiology, mechanics, and heuristics, using cycling as a context for teaching physics has a tradition of certainly more than 30 years. Here, a possible feature is the discussion of the noticeable resistant forces such as aerodynamic drag and the associated power consumption of cycling. We use an energy-based approach to model the power input for driving a bike at a constant speed. This approach uses a numerical simulation of the slowing down of a bike moving without pedaling which is implementable with standard spreadsheet software. The simulation can be compared directly to simple measurements with real bikes as well as to an analytic solution of the underlying differential equation. It is possible to derive realistic values for the aerodynamic drag coefficient c[subscript D] and the total power consumption within a secondary physics course. We also report experiences from teaching such a course to class 8 students.
Institute of Physics Publishing. The Public Ledger Building Suite 929, 150 South Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-627-0880; Fax: 215-627-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A