Interesting Motorcycle Facts: the Dynamics of Riding

Among all motorcycle facts, the primary and most basic one is that motorcycles have only two wheels and are unable to stand up on their own.

motorcycle facts pennsylvaniaThis sets motorcycles apart from cars and other vehicles that travel on three or more wheels. The need to balance and the forces involved in riding a motorcycle come into play every time we hop onto our bikes. Motorcycle facts dictate that the bike only stays upright when steered to keep the center of mass over the wheels. Steering, and therefore balance, is accomplished by the rider.

Forces of Motorcycle Riding

A series of powerful forces apply when we start to ride. Gravity pulls downward, friction happens between the road and the tires, and centrifugal force exerts to the outside when turning. When negotiating a turn, we need to lean over enough to balance out the gravity trying to pull down with the centrifugal force pulling the bike up.

Counter Steering

Counter steering is the key to leaning into a turn, and many riders are not even aware they are employing this strategy, although they are doing it effectively and without thinking. Counter steering is a momentary steering in the opposite direction of your turn in order to begin the process of leaning over. The fact is, without this small motion prior to a turn physics would not allow you to lean in the proper direction for the turn, and therefore not turn at all.


The largest force resisting motion on a bike is aerodynamic drag. This is why many motorcycles are designed with aerodynamics in mind.

Flipping Over the Front or Back Wheels

Because of the relatively short wheel base on motorcycles, it is possible to tip over the front wheel when braking, or even over the back wheel when accelerating. As riders we are constantly aware of this when braking or accelerating quickly.

Motorcycle Tires

Tires provide a friction force with the road, and prevent slipping. When deciding on the amount of tread on our tires, we are striking a balance between grip and ability to handle varying road conditions. Completely smooth tires give the most grip, but are prone to hydroplaning on a wet surface. Therefore we ride with tires that strike a balance between the smoothness and tread. Siping provides the thousands of tiny edges that grip the road for more traction and stopping power.

Seat Belts on Motorcycles? Not So Fast…

One of the principal laws of physics is that an object in motion continues in motion unless acted on by another force. When a motorcycle strikes another object in an accident, researchers have speculated that it might be useful to employ a harness and keep the rider from continuing to fly in the air at the speed that the bike was going. For cars, seat belts have proven to be highly useful in preventing injuries and saving lives.

After more studies it was determined that although shooting off as a projectile is not a good thing, it is better than being tethered to the bike and being subjected to the bikes’ fate, such as getting stuck under a semi.

Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer Lee D. Gaber, Esquire, has been dealing with motorcycle facts of physics for many years and is available at 1-888-292-5352 (1-888-CYCLE-LAW) if you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle accident. He has many years of experience helping clients resolve their motorcycle injury claims and is a leading motorcycle accident attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call today for a free consultation for your injuries.

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