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Additional info for Cycling Science: How Rider and Machine Work Together
G Up, up, and away As he was preparing for a world hour Pumping molecules Gas both impedes and facilitates cycling. Felt as a headwind, air is a gas that gets in the way, but without it cyclists would suffocate. 1 ft3 (3 liters) of air. Roughly half of this is trapped inside the hollow frame tubes, forks, stays, and handlebars, with the other half inside the tires. There is a specific relationship between pressure, volume, and temperature for any gas, and this is demonstrated every time you inflate a tire.
Bickertons used aluminum long before it became generally popular for bike frames; another folder, a prototype called the Switch, uses carbon fiber; the Strida and the Brompton have fewer tubes—all in the pursuit of lower weight. Another key issue is the ease of folding and unfolding. The solutions are diverse and the best are protected fiercely with patents. An alternative to folding is separable frames. Modern separables such as Moultons have small-diameter triangulated tubing to keep weight down, and suspension to ride as smoothly as full-sized wheels.
Lab tests show that steel is about three times stiffer than aluminum, so it would seem logical that a piece of aluminum needs to be three times thicker than an identical steel piece to be equally rigid. However, cylinders are not flat pieces of metal, and their mechanical properties provide an important benefit. When the diameter of a hollow cylinder is increased, its stiffness increases in proportion to the third power of the diameter. In other words, when the diameter is doubled, stiffness increases eight-fold (23).