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9.15.1 Descending II Drifting a Road Bicycle on Pavement




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This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.

9.15.1 Descending II Drifting a Road Bicycle on Pavement

Riders have claimed they can slide a bicycle on dry pavement in curves
to achieve greater cornering speed, as in drifting through a turn. A
drift, in contrast to a slide, means that both wheels slip, which is
even more difficult. This notion may come from observing motorcycles,
that can cause a rear wheel slide by applying power when banked over.
Besides, when questioned about how this is done, the proponent says
that the ability was observed, done by others.

A bicycle can be pedaled only at lean angles far less than the maximum
without grounding a pedal, so hard cornering is always done coasting,
hence, there is no power in hard cornering. Although bicycles with
high ground clearance have been built, they showed only that pedaling
imbalance has such a disturbing influence on traction, that pedaling
at a greater lean angle than that of a standard road racing bicycles
has no benefit. That is why road bicycles are built the way they are,
no higher than is useful.

That bicycle tires have no margin for recovering a slip at maximum
lean angle, has been tested in lean-slip tests on roads and testing
machines. For smooth tires on pavement, slipout occurs at slightly
less than 45 degrees from the road surface and is both precipitous and
unrecoverable. Although knobby tires have a less sudden slipout and
can be drifted around curves, they begin to side-slip at a more
upright angle as their tread fingers walk rather than slip. For this
reason, knobby tires cannot achieve lean angles of smooth tires and
offer no cornering advantage on pavement.

 

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