Motorcycle Physics and Dynamics Resources

Web Resources

Motorcycle Physics Resources on the Web
Well, I don't think you can do much better than this terrific page titled The Physics of Motorcycles on Go there and read it right away! We'll be here when you get back.

Motorcycle Turning

"Question: If you are on a motorcycle going down the highway, and you press on the inside of the left handle grip, why do the wheels turn to the right, but you turn to the left?" Answer here


Speed 101: Motorcycle Racing as Real-World Physics Lab

Sarah Carter Shares Her Thoughts

Despite what some people may think, motorcycle roadracing is not only a highly strenuous sport, but there is MUCH more involved than just twisting the throttle and turning the handlebars.
The Physics of Motorcycle Racing

Motorcycle Physics Papers

Physics and the Art of the Motorcycle (Physics Today, September 1998/Volume 51/Issue 9)
The Art and Materials Physics of the Motorcycle (Falco, Charles M. -- American Physical Society, 2008 APS March Meeting, March 10-14, 2008, abstract #D3.001)
Motorcycle Dynamics resources on

This page contains a limited bibliography of technical papers related to the modling [sic] and simulation of motorcycle dynamics. Much of the work has been done in the UK, where Prof. Robin Sharp works with the same symbolic code generator (VehicleSim Lisp, formally known as AutoSim) used by Mechanical Simulation.

Vehicle System Dynamics: International Journal of Vehicle Mechanics and Mobility
A bicycle can be self-stable without gyroscopic or caster effects (PDF) by J. D. G. Kooijman, J. P. Meijaard, Jim M. Papadopoulos, Andy Ruina, A. L. Schwab

Other Pages

Bicycle Dynamics includes papers about bicycle and motorcycle dynamics.
Bicycle mechanics and dynamics page at - though bicycle-centric, the principles apply equally to motorcycle dynamics.
Stable bicycle without gyroscopic forces or trail

To find the essence of bicycle self balance we looked at simpler and simpler dynamical models until we found a minimal two-mass-skate (TMS) bicycle that theory told us should be self-stable. This bicycle has no gyroscopic effect and no trail. We built a bicycle (of sorts) based on the theory to prove the point.

This bicycle proves that self-stability cannot be explained in any simple words. Bicycles are not stable because of gyros, because you can make a self stable bicycle without gyros. We did that. And they are not stable because of trail, you can take that away too. And we did that. More positively, we have shown that the distribution of mass, especially the location of the center of mass of the front assembly, has as strong an influence on bicycle stability as do gyros and trail.

Why can a bicycle balance itself? One necessary condition for bicycle self stability is (once we define the words carefully) that such a bicycle turns into a fall.

A Point of Physics (PDF) discusses gyroscopic forces, angular momentum, and includes a few interesting sketches. Short and to the point, discusses steering by moving the rider's body... but... according to Keith Code's No B.S. test bike it's not the body lean. Very interesting... (Popular Mechanics)
Motorcycle Dynamics at Padua University
Applied Motorcycle Dynamics - A Case Study By Greg Du Val
Motorcycles and the theoretical Motorcycle Safety forum.
A Hairy Ride - Motorcycle Physics (

Wikipedia holds forth

Well, sometimes Wikipedia can be useful. ;D

Other motorcycle physics and dynamics resources

Talk Back

If you know of any great motorcycle physics resources, drop a comment and let us know.