How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 160

Please explain the advantage of air tires with less mass.
The rim of the wheel travels at a different speed from the rest of the bicycle. The top of the wheel heads forward faster than the bicycle, while the bottom of the wheel heads forward more slowly than the bicycle. But because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of speed, the increase in the top of the wheel's energy caused by its increased speed more than makes up for the decrease in the bottom of the wheel's energy caused by its reduced speed. The overall result is that the wheel rim has twice as much kinetic energy as it would have if it were simply sliding forward without turning. This fact is important because it means that you want as little mass in the wheel rim as possible. Every kilogram there counts double when you are trying to start up from rest. By putting air inside the tire, rather than rubber, you reduce the mass at the wheel rim and make the bicycle easier to start.
         

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