Bicycles, the team suggests, are more complicated than previously thought. While gyro and trail effects can contribute to stability, other factors such as the distribution of mass and the bike’s moment of inertia can play a role as well. Computer simulations that take all of these factors into account could lead to improved designs for folding bikes with small wheels or bikes that carry cargo, Ruina says.
To demonstrate the possibilities, the researchers sketched out several new exotic bicycle designs. One is predicted to remain stable even with a negative gyro that tries to turn a falling bicycle in the wrong direction. In another, the steer axis is reversed such that the handlebars are farther forward than the center of the front wheel.