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Bicycling Science, 3rd Edition Hardcover – Apr 1 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 485 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 3 edition (April 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262232375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262232371
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 767 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,859,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"This expanded and updated edition of a classic work offers a comprehensive introduction to bicycle technology... The information Wilson provides may be most appreciated by bicycle designers and builders, but is likely to interest anyone who competes, commutes, of just likes to have fun on two wheels."
Science

"...full of interesting material to ponder while pedaling down the road."
American Journal of Physics, Jearl Walker

"Will be cherished by the cyclist who wants to know more about what makes him and his bicycle tick."
Bicycling, Fred DeLong

About the Author

David Gordon Wilson is Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the coauthor of the first two editions of Bicycling Science and was the editor of the journal Human Power from 1994 to 2002.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the previous reviews before ordering this book, but as a non-engineer, I rushed in and bought it anyway. There are lots of interesting tidbits, however it is VERY technical and while it is the 3rd edition, it still seems dated.
After skimming the book for a week, I loaned it to an engineer friend who does Ironman competitions. He returned it in short order, finding it too dry. Enough said...
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Format: Paperback
(...) Perhaps the only competitor of rock climbing for the canonical geek sport, cycling
-- for utility or amusement -- asks for a good blend of engineering and physiological savvy. For
many the hands-on tinkering of bicycle maintenance and cycling technique provides welcome
relief from more abstract manipulations in the library or office. Whether you think of cycling as the
ultimate open source engineering project, or as a handy metaphor for your computer-of-choice,
its appeal to the mechanism-oriented mind is undeniable.]
Released this April, David Gordon Wilson's updated Bicycling Science fills the gap between, on the one hand, shop
manuals and training guides, and on the other the contemporary literature on human powered vehicles. Wilson, Professor
Emeritus at MIT, navigates physics and physiology to produce a hefty source of insight.
Wilson splits his book into three broad sections -- the biology of human power generation, the physics of turning
complicated muscle motions into linear velocity, and radical redesigns of the standard diamond bicycle frame.
The first section explains, among other things, the role of oxygen uptake and distribution, and gives empirical and
theoretical backing to some, but not all, of the conventional wisdom surrounding cycling. The curious will find a detailed
explanation of why high pedal cadence allows for long-term, low-intensity, high-efficiency power generation.
Modifications to the standard choices -- from elliptical chain-wheels to hand-powered cranks -- are analyzed
critically.
The second section might be jokingly termed "extreme high school physics.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Disclosure: I am an interested party (contributor), so you may take my 'star' rating with a grain of salt. My main message is to make a point that I have also emailed to Amazon.
As of May 1, 2004 the other customer reviews posted for this title are somewhat misleading, because they refer only to the much older (second) edition. The third edition, published April 2004, is dramatically enlarged and updated -- a completely new book based on a tremendous amount of recent work. Dave Wilson and I have attempted to address all the issues to be seen in those reviews, plus many more, we hope successfully.
In this 5-year process every chapter was rewritten or even replaced outright. A great quantity of new material on history, physiology, speed calculations, aerodynamics, steering theory, human powered vehicles etc. is available nowhere else.
I encourage any scientifically curious cyclist, or bicycle industry engineer, to contribute a genuine review of the third edition, so potential readers can learn about this distinctly different book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa30722ac) out of 5 stars 51 reviews
191 of 194 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa31ae690) out of 5 stars Other reviews refer to previous editions May 3 2004
By Jim Papadopoulos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Disclosure: I am an interested party (contributor), so you may take my 'star' rating with a grain of salt. My main message is to make a point that I have also emailed to Amazon.
As of May 1, 2004 the other customer reviews posted for this title are somewhat misleading, because they refer only to the much older (second) edition. The third edition, published April 2004, is dramatically enlarged and updated -- a completely new book based on a tremendous amount of recent work. Dave Wilson and I have attempted to address all the issues to be seen in those reviews, plus many more, we hope successfully.
In this 5-year process every chapter was rewritten or even replaced outright. A great quantity of new material on history, physiology, speed calculations, aerodynamics, steering theory, human powered vehicles etc. is available nowhere else.
I encourage any scientifically curious cyclist, or bicycle industry engineer, to contribute a genuine review of the third edition, so potential readers can learn about this distinctly different book.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa31ae7a4) out of 5 stars Bicycling Science 3rd Edition Aug. 9 2004
By A. Fuchs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by Dr. Andreas Fuchs, Berne, Switzerland, August 2004

Long-awaited for Bicycling Science 3 is finally here: 22 years after the second edition was originally published! A main question for the reviewer was therefore: Will the 3rd edition of Bicycling Science consider the key-developments that happened in this field during the full age of the desktop computer in a wisely weighted manner? This question is a fair one since Bicycling Science ranks among the most important books in the field of cycling!

The new, third edition of Bicycling Science (BS) contains main chapters about: History, human power generation, thermal effects on power production, power and speed, bicycle aerodynamics, rolling (tires and bearings), braking, steering and balancing, mechanics and mechanisms (power transmission), materials and stresses, unusual human-powered machines, and human-powered vehicles in the future.

Compared with BS2, BS3 has relatively more content in the chapters "human power generation" and "steering and balancing". BS3 discusses relevant results of work physiology in much more detail than BS2. Since bicycling science is a wide field it is a wise decision to involve co-authors; in the "steering and balancing"-chapter Jim Papadopolous vast experience with this main topic shines up and is, at least by the reviewer, very much appreciated!

After reading BS3, the question put up by the reviewer at the beginning of this review receives an overall positive answer: D.G. Wilson lists many new references; as a very serious observer of the field of bicycling science Wilson identified the important developments and discusses them accordingly. The main omission detected by the reviewer is the absence of the topic "suspension" high up in the hierarchy of the chapters of the book. Also, the hydraulic actuation of brakes would have deserved a more prominent position.

Apart from that, the book covers bicycling science as what it is today very well! BS, if it was an academic discipline, was defined by engineers and physicists; one focus that is therefore still missing too much is the one of human factors and ergonomics. By saying that the reviewer does not at all negatively criticize BS3... he just likes to point out a weakness in the bicycle research area for which neither D.G. Wilson nor J. Papadopoulous are responsible, of course!

Conclusion: The 3rd edition of Bicycling Science is a noble successor of BS2 and assures that The MTI Press's Bicycling Science remains in the top ranks in cycle literature!

The reviewer is physicist and is since many years actively involved in the study, development and promotion of modern forms of cycles. He could therefore be called "an expert" in the field of bicycling science. Main fields of interest are velomobiles, power-assist drives and human powered vehicles dynamics, especially aerodynamics.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4925a80) out of 5 stars Bike Nerd Heaven Nov. 12 2007
By sprosser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As Miss Jean Brodie said, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like." She meant it as an insult, but I don't. Bicycling Science is nerd heaven, full of physics, engineering, molecular biology, aerodynamics and all kinds of other scientific manna. If you have an appetite for charts, graphs, and research studies, then this book will delight you with its explanations of why bikes work so well with the human body.

It's not casual reading by any means. I'd prefer the same information presented in slightly less academic tones, but that doesn't mean it isn't accurate or interesting. So I dip into my copy for short bursts. For me, it's not a cover-to-cover read, but it's been on my bedside table for months because I pick it up regularly.

Bicycling Science may well be more technical info than a casual fan can absorb. However, it's a great reference that will demystify your bike -- if that's the sort of thing you like.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32d4f60) out of 5 stars Empirical Bicycle Science, not Theoretical Bicycle Engineering Oct. 19 2005
By Ronald W. Satz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Prof. Wilson is well-respected in the engineering community, and this book is the best we have on the topic. Alas, even though Americans can land a man on the moon, we don't currently have a comprehensive, accurate computer simulation of the bicycle, rider, terrain, and atmospheric condition suitable for design optimization. Bicycle science is still very empirical! Contrast this with automotive engineering, aerospace engineering, watercraft engineering, and rail travel engineering (although to be fair, there is no Defense Department money for bicycle advancements). As a systems and mechanical engineer in industry (but not the bicycle industry) I've written numerous computer simulations for all kinds of machines and processes; my engineering doctoral dissertation was on the detailed computer simulation of a modified gas turbine engine (published as Theory and Design of the New Rational Combustion Engine)--so it rather amazes me that we don't have something comparable for bicycle design. Prof. Wilson candidly states on p. 365 that "...expert application of engineering methods has played very little part in bicycle design." and on p. 282 contributing author Papadopoulos states that "...most [dynamic] analyses are incorrect, either because of faulty methods or because of errors in algebra" (and this at a time when theoretical physicists are promolgating theories to the thirteenth decimal place).

The authors present some of the simple equations, but don't number them, and there are some symbol mistakes (e.g., on p. 242 an equation is missing a couple of divisor signs and lacks a negative sign at the beginning). Symbols are defined at the end of the book, rather than at the beginning or end of each chapter. For most scientists and engineers, there are far too many words, and far too few equations in this book (but that's more the fault of the low level of development of this discipline, 120 years after the Starley safety bicycles were introduced).

End-of-chapter references and notes are excellent, as are the diagrams and figures (except that Fig. 11.30 is apparently mis-labeled). There is a history timeline at the back of the book, but it stops at 1934. Useful Web-site addresses are given. However, no comparative design information is given for tire tread, frame structure, handlebar type, and suspension layout. What's better: a seat suspension post or rear wheel suspension?--Not answered. Saddle height is discussed, but not reach to the handlebars. The chapter on Materials and Stresses discusses only unsprung bicycles. Wilson states correctly (on p. 381) that "triangulation" prevents frame collapse (unlike quadrilateral designs) and many new mountain bikes feature such a design (just look at Specialized's current catalog).

Highlights of the book include the discussion of many alternative styles of human-powered vehicles, including recumbent bikes (Wilson's preferred design), aircraft, and watercraft. I especially like the idea of rail bicycles--this has got to be the most efficient form of transportation (with the possible exception of the Lewis-Adkins Regenerative Spiral-Drive Train, which is not discussed).

All-in-all this book is a good read, but if you're a bicycle engineer, the book won't help you much. A Google search on the Web finds only one link for "Bicycle Computer Simulation"--to a Taiwanese paper "The Construction of a Bicycle Computer Simulation Model for Riding Comfort"--let's hope that the fourth edition of Bicycling Science will be much more comprehensive and much more computer-oriented.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa340f24c) out of 5 stars Excellent May 29 2005
By Jeffrey A. Greenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What can I say? This book is so packed with useful theoretical, historical and design-related information that I barely know where to begin. As one of the authors mentioned in his note below, the third edition of this book has been substantially revised and updated, and is hands-down THE best resource I have ever come across for the science behind bicycle design and operation.

The chapter on human power is especially enlightening, but, honestly, every fact, formula and suggestion in this book is enlightening. The authors should be commended for bringing such a useful book into existence; it is a great gift any time someone accepts the burden to gather, distill and distribute the kind of valuable technical information that is contained between the covers of this book. Bravo.


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