The Science Behind the Bike

To mark the Rio Olympic Games this featured item focusses on a selection of Open University programmes featuring the technology behind the development of the bicycle.

Item 1:: The History of the Hour Record
Duration: 00:09:01
Item 2:: Materials and mechanics: the Moulton bicycle
Duration: 00:20:01
Date: 1972

The Rio Olympic Games are being held from the 5th to the 21st August 2016.

Building on their success in the 2008 Olympics, the British cycling team topped the medals table 4 years ago at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Science Behind the Bike is a series of films that investigate how science and technology have transformed the sport of cycling. We talk to Olympic gold-medallists Chris Boardman and Rebecca Romero, and Paralympian gold-medallist Sarah Storey, take a trip to a wind tunnel, consult with Team GB physiologists and hear from design experts and cycling legends such as Graeme Obree and Francesco Moser. In this series you will find out about the legendary Hour Record (the record for the longest distance cycled in one hour), learn about technology, discover the forces that have to be overcome to ride fast and understand how the body deals physiologically when riding at Olympic level. This material was produced to support the Open University module S172 Sport: the science behind the medals.

Links to programmes 2 to 4 in the series can be found at the bottom of this page.

Materials and Mechanics: the Moulton Bicycle was a programme made in 1971 for the T100 module Man-made world: a foundation course and features the design development of the small wheeled Moulton bicycle. The programme was filmed in the small museum which designer Alex Moulton set up to display all the early prototypes of the Moulton bicycle as well as some extremely non-standard high performance machines. In the programme he uses some of these early models to explain the development of his ideas regarding both the shape and mechanics, and which ultimately led to the definitive form of the bicycle which was first introduced at the Earls Court Bicycle Show in November 1962.