Reports of the demise of this Web site are greatly exaggerated! We at thank Harris Cyclery for its support over the years. Harris Cyclery has closed, but we keep going. Keep visiting the site for new and updated articles, and news about possible new affilations.

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Bicycle Science is Hibernating

Sorry, at the moment the Bicycle Science email list is not currently in operation. Sheldon hoped to re-start it sometime.

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Bicycle Science: Aims

The Bicycle Science list is concerned with the science and engineering of bicycles. Appropriate subject matter includes analysis methods, experiments, and scholarship. A longer-term goal is to refine the questions we ask, and codify the understanding we develop.

The Bicycle Science list was conceived as an alternative to, which sometimes suffers from personality conflicts, superficiality, and recurrence of last year's questions. I'm aiming for more considered, serious communications.

Although the ultimate aim is not discussion per se, the development and dissemination of archival-quality organized knowledge will rely on a community of participants, who are glued together by that discussion.


The Bicycle Science list is moderated -- every submission must be approved by the Moderator (who am I? see below) before it is posted. This allows me to ask for a level of quality which is rarely found in

Submissions with the following defects will generally not be posted (I will either edit them, or send a note to the author requesting changes, or simply discard them):

Sometimes I will ask for additional information (such as references or explanations) if it seems likely to make the contribution more useful or accessible to others.

Of course, exceptions are possible, so you can try to make a case, or just submit your material and see what happens. As a highly personal endeavour, this list is undeniably subject to Moderator caprice!

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The bottom line is: most submissions will be edited, unless they are nearly perfect.

The editing/rejecting process is potentially frustrating for authors. Not only is it sometimes slow (hours or days), it bruises egos, and may even (mistakenly) misrepresent the author's ideas or attitudes. I will try to indicate when substantial changes have been made, and I will also acknowledge and try to correct what authors feel misrepresents them.

If you wish, you may clearly state (on the first line) that your submission may only be posted as is, without any modification. Of course, in that case you risk that I might not approve it.


Appropriate topics include, but are not limited to: any aspect of bicycle performance, construction, or failure; and most aspects of rider propulsion, control, 'fit', perception, etc. Issues of advocacy or public policy, and questions about 'what to buy' or 'how to train' generally won't belong, although there are grey areas. If you wonder whether a given subject belongs, you can either ask me or just go ahead and try submitting it.

Submissions will often concern:

Note: a good question or criticism can be just as valuable as a 'result'!

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The Bicycle Science list will become significant only if many people help make it so. This will entail expenditure, mostly of labor but sometimes of money.

If you feel you could contribute in some way, I urge you to volunteer. (Of course, technical postings have the greatest value to this endeavour, but I sense that the majority are supplied by only about 10% of the subscribers.)

Here are some suggestions for potential volunteers:


Postings since November 1999 are archived and may be searched at:

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All postings through December 1999 are archived you can find them at:

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Postings since November 1999 are archived and may be searched at:


The American Chain Association

The 1971 issue I have (100 pages, the newer one is 300 pages) is an easy read for somebody with basic physics background. I learned a huge amount about chains in an easy couple hours of reading.

The Bicycle Wheel (Jobst Brandt, Avocet Press)

Any easy read. I learned a huge amount, but I think a lot of the conclusions/implications are unstated. They may be obvious to practicing mechanical engineers, but I need more hand-holding.

Available from Harris Cyclery

Bicycles and Tricycles (Archibald Sharp, Dover Publications)

An introductory (1896!) text on the forces acting on a bicycle and some design considerations. Long. I have not read it for many years now, so somebody else should give a review.

Bicycling Science (Whitt & Wilson, MIT Press)

Contains a lot of technical history of bicycles (as compared to cycling or history of bicycle companies, etc.). It discusses what are some of the engineering issues but does not treat any one subject in detail.

Bicycle Transportation (John Forester, MIT Press)

Effective Cycling (John Forester, MIT Press)

Mostly contains everyday cycling information but also contains some bicycle information. This is not an engineering text but I highly recommend it for discussing basic issues of physiology, lubrication, weather, traffic engineering, etc. FAQ

Pieces of this contain a lot of technical information (a substantial fraction of which was written by Jobst Brandt). Easy reading but long.

The Sturmey Archer Story (Tony Hadland)

A fun history read and lots of blow-up pictures, and it contains a tiny bit of technical discussion relevant to the development of hub gears.

IHPVA Book List

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To subscribe or unsubscribe to The Bicycle Science list:

Sorry, the list is not currently active.


Sheldon Brown of Newtonville, Massachusetts, is a mainly self-taught bicycle mechanic, writer and Webmaster. He has been working with bicycles one off and on since the 1950s. He has worked at several different bicyle shops in eastern Massachusetts, including Marblehead Cycle, The Bicycle Revival (Cambridge), Life Cycle (Cambridge), Wheelworks (Belmont and Winchester), Frank's Spoke 'n' Wheel (Waltham and Framingham.)

He is service manager and Webmaster at Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts.

He is a co-founder of the Broadway Bicycle School, and taught bicycle mechanics for many years at the Boston Center for Adult Education.

He has written a great many magazine articles, for Bike World, Bicycling, and American Bicyclist. Some of these articles formed the nucleus of his technical Web reference resource, one of the largest bicycle-related Websites in existence.

The magnum opus of this site is the Bicycle Glossary, an encyclopedic reference which is also hyperlinked to the articles on the site.

He owns more bicycles than any sane person would want. For more about him, see his Home Page

Sheldon Brown's Personal Pages

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Jim Papadopoulos [email protected] is a bicycle science fanatic and imperfect perfectionist. He is also a professional engineer (mechanical) and PhD (mechanical engineering).

His current co-ordinates are:

629 St Martin Ct
Green Bay, Wisconsin 54311
920/497-7538 (voice/fax)
(waking hours only please)
[email protected]

WORK: Rexnord Technical Services
5101 W. Beloit Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53214
414/643-2747 tel, -3200 fax (with cover sheet only)

English by birth (1954) and raised in the US, Jim spent his pre-college years in Providence RI, Madison WI, and Corvallis OR.

College included metallurgy studies at Manchester Polytechnic (England), mathematics at Oregon State University, mechanical engineering at MIT, and mechanics at Johns Hopkins.

His jobs have included Post Doc (at Cornell Bicycle Research Project), and Faculty (at Cornell and at Northern Illinois U.). He also had a stint as a consultant and inventor with Bicycle R&D (his one-man engineering and testing business). Now he is an R&D engineer at Rexnord, a major manufacturer of industrial transmission products. (The R&D division also performs mechanical testing for Rexnord and outside clients.)

Jim's cycling activities have included touring, and road and track competition. (That was 15-25 years, and 30-40 pounds ago.) But nowadays it's only the occasional commute to work. He has dabbled in bike mechanicking, frame building, and component design.

He has thoroughly reviewed technical literature related to handling dynamics and to spoked wheels. He has carried out theoretical and/or experimental investigations into bicycle wheels, frames, handling, tires, biomechanics, components, suspension, and fatigue testing. He has written articles and columns on bicycle science subjects (and also a number of research reports). And, he has supervised a score of undergraduate student projects related to bicycles.

Jim is inventor on two US patents related to bicycles. He is a technical journal referee, and chaired the ASTM task group on handlebar/stem testing.

Before starting HBS, Jim was Associate Editor for Engineering, and a sometime contributor, at Cycling Science magazine, and a frequent participant in discussions


I can't think of any better place to acknowledge those who have inspired my bicycle science efforts:
David Gordon Wilson
Jobst Brandt
Chester Kyle
John Forester
Fred DeLong
Alex Moulton
Of course, that doesn't mean that they endorse what I'm doing here!

Jim Papadopoulos 2/9/97

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Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others

Reports of the demise of this Web site are greatly exaggerated! We at thank Harris Cyclery for its support over the years. Harris Cyclery has closed, but we keep going. Keep visiting the site for new and updated articles, and news about possible new affilations.

Harris Cyclery Home Page

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Last Updated: by Harriet Fell