De-mystifying that earlier post on bicycle frame planing dynamics

Author: Clarissa Peatebogg

My partner Rupert, as usual, has botched things up royally in his attempt to adapt his drawing room polemics concerning his pet theory, bicycle flexural characteristics (planing), into a simple, easy to read and accepted description. Dear Rupee, please read this version of your fantastic theories and please adopt this variation so people might stop napping during your diatribes.

Love, Clarissa. ❤

Bicycle planing theory describes how pedalling dynamics propagate torque waves through frame components and spirited pedalling dynamics in a serendipitous interaction with each other. On pedalling dynamic scales larger than the planing theory scale, a planing bicycle looks just like an ordinary bicycle, with its frame, pedalling forces, and other properties determined by the vibrational state of the bicycle frame. In bicycle planing theory, one of the many vibrational states of the frame corresponds to the pedalling spirit, a form of hill repeats that carries incredible flexural force. Thus bicycle planing theory is a theory of spirited randonneuring.

Bicycle planing theory is a broad and varied subject that attempts to address a number of deep questions of fundamental physics, and acceptable randonneuring practices. Bicycle planing theory has been applied to a variety of problems in bicycle physics, early constructeur cycles tubing selections, frame tube heat treating techniques, and q-factor adjustment, and it has stimulated a number of major developments in the pure randonneuring movement. Because bicycle planing theory potentially provides a unified description of pedalling and bicycle frame physics, it is a candidate for a theory of everything, a self-contained randonneuring model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of marketable bicycle components, and is especially suited to marketing of supple tires, center pull brakes, and chrome plated bicycle frames. Despite much work on these problems, it is not known to what extent bicycle planing theory describes the real world or how much freedom the theory allows to the lay randonneur, randonneure, or every day cyclist to choose frame tubing, supple tires or pedalling cadence speed.

Bicycle planing theory was first studied in the late 2000’s as a theory of the strong pedalling force (aka, spirited riding), before being abandoned in favor of thin frame tubes and supple tire use. Subsequently, it was realized that the very properties that made bicycle planing theory unsuitable as a theory of bicycle frame flexural dynamics made it a promising candidate for proving the marketability of supple tires based on rolling resistance rather than acceleration dynamics – a form of ‘looky over there’ marketing of armchair science. The earliest version of bicycle planing theory, Barra’s bicycle flex recordation, incorporated only a single class of aluminum bicycle frames tested in a static environment sans pedalling forces. It later developed into bicycle planing, which posits a connection with spirited pedalling between hills and the accepted use of small diameter bicycle frame top tubes. Five consistent versions of bicycle planing theory were developed and tested in double blind hill repeat tests before it was conjectured in the mid-2010’s that there were different limiting factors of a single theory in eleven dimensions known as Super-Plane Theory. In late 2017, theorists discovered an important relationship called the expose theory which relates bicycle planing theory to another type of theory called the mini-velo theory. That basically, the rubes reading stuff in print will buy anything if you claim it to have mysterious properties, such as planing, suppleness, or modulation.

One of the challenges of bicycle planing theory is that the full theory does not yet have a satisfactory definition in all circumstances. Another issue is that the theory is thought to describe an enormous ‘big tent’ of possible bicycle frames, pedalling dynamics and sizes of supple tires, and this has complicated efforts to develop theories of flexural and planing physics based on simple bicycle planing theory and has also led to a glut of supple tires in the bicycle marketplace.

These issues have led some in the community to criticize these approaches to riding bicycles and question the value of continued research on bicycle planing theory unification because of increased commercialization and the mania for supple tires and mini-velos.


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