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Moto-Physics Smackdown

Years of bitter experience have taught us to don our Nomex suits whenever we throw down on the subject of motorcycle physics as even the most lucid explanation of anything more complex and nuanced than that a comic book will often fail to dent the thick skulls of many of our otherwise wonderful moto-brothers and sisters. Worse - no lack of knowledge, experience, evidence or the like will be enough to convince some that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when it comes to things more complex than a license plate number.  So to supplement our humble treatise on the Physics of Motorcycles, and to make the world a better place, we offer this companion piece in which we respond to our more strident critics the old fashioned way - by making fun of them! What follows is our unbridled response to the reading impaired, the grandstanders and even the occasional unfortunate innocent bystander. Warning - some useful information may be gleaned between the take downs! All in good fun tho (liberal literary license applied) - we dig you all. Honest and no lie.

Want more? Go to our reader forum and post it there for a respectful response or email Turbo for inclusion in the steel cage wrasslin match. Bring it on, pilgrim. 
Here's looking at you kid

Richard L. of Pocatello, ID writes: In all of your hyperbolic prevarications in this pontification on a topic with which you are obviously unfamiliar and in which you substitute opinion and unequivocal inculcation to mask a dearth of factual knowledge you unmask yourself as a liberal, atheist, anti-American, ivory tower academic who treats something as sacred as Newton's Laws as if they were invented in some foreign land. You maniac. Damn you. Aw damn you all straight to hell!


Dick, dood, don't blow a gasket! I get it. You think that I am an idiot. Alas, I am crushed.

The thing is that I pretty much think you are an idiot too. I guess that makes us both idiots. Woohoo! There is a distinction tho - I and the staff here at MoJazz are idiots with multiple awards in racing, journalism and physics distributed among us, while you are merely an idiot.

Homey of California writes: You have no idea what you are talking about, Pro-fes-ur. You are constantly putting carts before horses and vice versa. Also you don't use any math which obviously means I know more about it than you. Hard core math is what separates fact from BS, men from boys, hippies from Scientologists, inventory control specialists from physicists, and sheep from women (sorry, that one just slipped out).  If you are going to go affiliating  yourself with a University you need to use quantum mechanics flash or else you suck.
Hola Homey,

One brief thought before I respond to your missive - does your underwear fit too tightly?  

Homey - do you imagine that planets compute the differential equations of motion as they orbit the sun? Because if you do you are wrong. Planets are big and dumb (kind of like some martial arts aficionados) and orbited the sun just fine before Newton, Leibniz and others were even a gleam in their daddy's eyes. Newton's laws and math are very useful to scientists, engineers and mathematicians in that they allow interpolation and/or extrapolation of data with greater power and resolution than that generally available via empiricism. Math is also very useful as a precise descriptive language - but only to those with facility in in it's use. If I were to say to you, for instance:
I think that there is a pretty fair chance that you would not know what the hell I was talking about. But if I were to tell you, instead, that the solution for the heat conduction equation for a homogeneous body in one dimension (acquired using a Fourier transform) shows dependence on temperature contrast and rate of diffusion, well, then you might just glean something useful. In order for data to be compelling it has to be understandable. That's the main difference between science, and say, religion.

So enough with the whining about math already. Math, by itself, doesn't necessarily mean squat. Saying something in an English sentence that is correct is just as good as doing it with equations and better for general audiences without ego hangups. I can cite numerous examples of beautifully articulated mathematical theories that are either at odds with nature or make absolutely no sense (string theory comes prominently to mind). Besides, my bro, we did provide links for those interested in a little more math than our qualitative description provides. And if you want to contribute you are welcome to produce for us all the motorcycle math bad dreams are capable of conjuring.

Hasta la vista, mi hombre.
Motomedic of Eureka, CA writes: Horsepower is not a measurement, but a calculation, as we cannot measure horsepower, only torque. The horsepower is calculated as hp = torque x rpm / 5252. 
Heya Moto,

I dig you man! But where did we say any different? Are you confused by the statement that "Horsepower is a measure of the amount of power (energy per second) produced at the crankshaft?" Because if you are I don't think that the term "measure" in this context means what you think it means. An honest mistake I am sure.

Be careful though. It is indeed true that the common chassis dyno measures torque. But the torque of what? Sometimes even the "measured" torque of the rear wheel is, in itself, a calculation based on the inertia of a load to which the wheel is attached. And though generally, as a matter of convenience, it is easier to compute the power output of mechanical systems than it is to measure it that does not mean that it cannot be done.

Peace, out.
Klay of Northfield, MN writes: Seen this yet? http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~fajans/pub/pdffiles/SteerBikeAJP.PDF 

Yes sir, thanks! Great paper.

You rule.
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