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自行車如何保持平衡?訣竅都在大腦中

How does a bike stay upright? It’s all in the mind
自行車如何保持平衡?訣竅都在大腦中

It’s as easy as riding a bike… or so the saying goes. But how do we manage to stay upright on a bicycle? If anyone ventures an answer they most often say that it’s because of the “gyroscopic effect” – but this can’t be true.

英語里有一句諺語叫“像騎自行車一樣容易”。但是人們究竟是如何在自行車上保持平衡的?很多試圖嘗試回答這個問題的人會談到“陀螺效應”,但實際上并不準確。

Put simply, the gyroscopic effect occurs because a spinning wheel wants to stay spinning about its axis, just as a spinning top or even planet Earth stay aligned to their spin axes. While motorcyclists with their big, heavy, fast-spinning wheels may notice the gyro effect, a modest everyday cyclist won’t because the wheels are much lighter and at a leisurely riding speed they don’t spin quickly enough.

簡而言之,陀螺效應的產生是由于輪子在旋轉中能保持軸的方向的能力,就像一個旋轉的陀螺,或者圍繞軸心旋轉的地球。摩托車手由于駕駛飛速旋轉的重型機車會更容易意識到陀螺效應的作用,但是普通的騎車人由于使用的輪胎輕得多,速度不夠快而不會注意到陀螺效應的存在。
 

If a pedal bicycle did stay upright because of the gyroscopic effect then any novice getting on a bike could just push off and the bike – and the effect – would do the rest. The simple truth is that you have to learn how to ride, just as you must learn how to walk. Riding a bike is all in the mind.

如果腳踏車可以因為陀螺效應而保持直立,那么任何新手都可以坐在上面不用蹬車,被人推著前進了–因為陀螺效應本身就可以發揮作用促使車輛前進。簡單來說,你必須學會如何騎車,就像你必須學會如何走路一樣。駕馭一輛自行車的關鍵全在大腦中。

Imagine you had to ride along a perfectly straight line on a perfectly flat path. Easy, surely. Well, no. It’s virtually impossible to ride along a narrow straight line just as it’s really hard to walk perfectly along a straight line, even when you’re not drunk. Try it.

想象一下,你沿著一條完全平坦的筆直的道路騎行。非常容易是不是?嗯,并不是,基本上人很難沿著一條狹窄的直線騎行,就像不可能走出一條完美的直線一樣,即便是在你完全清醒的情況下,不信你可以試試。

Now attempt this little experiment: stand on the ball of one foot, using your arms to balance. It’s quite hard. But now try hopping from one foot to the other. It is much easier to keep your balance. It’s called running. What your brain has learned to do is to make a little correction every time you take off so that if, say, you’re falling to the right, then you’ll hop a bit to the left with the next step.

現在嘗試這個小實驗:一只腳站在球上,用你的手臂來保持平衡。非常難?,F在試著從一只腳跳到另一只腳。這樣保持平衡容易的多。這個過程叫做跑動。你的大腦所做的是每次你起跳的時候根據位置進行調整,這樣如果你朝右邊倒了,下一步大腦就會指導你往左跳一些。

It’s the same with pedalling a bike. When riding, you’re always making tiny corrections. If you are falling to the right, then you subconsciously steer a bit to the right so that your wheels move underneath you. Then, without thinking, you steer back again to stay on the path.

這和蹬著自行車一樣。在整個騎行過程中你總是在不斷的做調整。如果你朝右邊倒了,潛意識里你就會朝左邊傾斜一些以使車輪在你腳下移動。然后,不用想你又回到了路徑上。

This “wobbling” is perfectly normal. It is more obvious among beginners (mostly children) who wobble around quite a lot, but it may be almost imperceptible in an expert cyclist. Nevertheless, these little wobbles are all part of the process and explain why walking – or riding – on a dead straight line is so hard because you can’t make those essential little side-to-side corrections.

這個“搖擺”是很正常的。在初學者中更為明顯(大部分是兒童)會一直不停的搖擺,但是從專業騎手上基本上看不到任何搖擺。然而,這些小的搖擺都是學會騎車的過程的一部分,這也就解釋了為什么行走,或者騎行,出一條筆直筆直的直線是不可能的,因為你很難一直不停的做出精確的矯正。

There are some really clever bits in bicycle design to make riding a bike easier, too. Most important is the fact that the steering column (the “head tube”) is tilted so that the front wheel makes contact with the ground at a point that lies behind where the steering axis intersects with the ground. The distance between these two points is called “the trail”.

有一些非常聰明的設計可以使自行車騎起來更容易。最重要的事實是,轉向柱(“頭管”)是傾斜的,因為前輪和地面的著力點,是在轉向軸線與地面接觸點之后的。這兩點之間的距離稱為“騎行痕跡”。

The trail really helps to stabilise a bike when you’re riding with no hands because when you lean to the right, say, the force at the contact point on the pavement will turn the front wheel to the right. This helps you to steer effortlessly and it allows for hands-free steering by leaning slightly left or right.

這個軌跡有助于你在騎行時保持平穩,當你騎車不扶把的時候,當你身體右傾斜時,在人行道上的接觸點的力量會促使前輪轉向右邊。這有助于你將毫不費力的通過身體微傾來控制方向。

But people have built bikes with vertical head tubes and they are perfectly rideable, too. In fact, it’s quite hard to make a bike you can’t ride, and many have tried.

但人們也設計了一些垂直頭管的自行車,而且也完全可以騎。事實想造一輛不能騎的自行車是很難的,很多人都嘗試過了。

That’s because keeping a bike upright is largely to do with you and your brain – something that’s easy to prove. Try crossing your hands over, for example. You will not even be able to get started, and if you switch hands while you’re riding, be warned, you will fall off instantaneously – something that wouldn’t happen if it were the gyroscopic effect keeping you upright.

那是因為保持自行車直立主要是靠你和你的大腦來進行控制,而這點很容易證明。嘗試交叉雙手,你恐怕很難騎起來,即便是在騎行中間嘗試換手,注意,你會馬上摔倒-如果自行車是通過陀螺效應保持直立,就不會發生這樣的情況。

Clowns and street performers ride bikes with reverse-geared steering. It takes months of practice to learn how to ride a bike like this, and it’s all about unlearning how to ride a normal bike. It’s amazing how the brain works.

小丑和街頭藝人騎反向齒輪轉向的自行車。要花幾個月才能達到這樣的水平,需要你把騎普通自行車的方法都忘掉。大腦的工作能力令人驚訝。

But what about the gyroscopic effect I referred to earlier? Surely it helps a bit? Well, no it doesn’t … unless you’re going pretty fast. There is a well-known demonstration that seems to show how a bike wheel is really affected by the gyroscopic effect but if you do the sums you can show that the effect is nowhere near strong enough to hold you up when you’re riding a bike.

那么我之前提到的陀螺效應呢?難道不能起作用么?嗯,并不能,除非你騎得特別快。有一個著名例子顯示了陀螺效應在車輪上是如何發生作用的,但是如果你自己算算你就會發現那個效果遠不足以支持你騎自行車。

To prove that the gyro effect is unimportant I built a bike with a second, counter-rotating front wheel. I’m not the first to have done this – David Jones built one in 1970. We both had the same idea. Essentially, the backward spinning wheel cancels out the gyroscopic effect of the front wheel, proving that it doesn’t matter and that the only thing keeping you upright is your brain. It’s also a really fun experiment that anyone can do.

為了證明陀螺效應不重要的,我造了一輛擁有第二個反旋轉前輪的自行車。我不是第一個這樣做的人,瓊斯戴維(David Jones)早在1970年就造過了。我們的想法一樣?;旧蟻碚f,反旋轉的輪子將正向旋轉的輪子產生的陀螺效應抵消,證明了陀螺效應并不重要,而真正使你能夠直立的是你的大腦。這個實驗非常有趣,大家都可以嘗試。

So what’s the best way to learn to ride? Well, watching children learning to ride with trainer wheels distresses me because every time one of the stabilisers touches the ground it is an unlearning experience. To cycle, your brain has to learn to wobble, so take off the trainer wheels – and the more you wobble the quicker you’ll learn. Cycling really is all in the mind.

那么,最好的學騎自行車的方法是什么呢?嗯,看小孩子們用訓練專用的自行車學習讓我很苦惱,因為每一次保持平衡訓練輪著地的時候就意味著又白學了。要想學會騎自行車,你的大腦必須要學會搖擺,所以把訓練輪子拆除吧,搖擺的越厲害你就學得越快。騎自行車的訣竅真的都在你的大腦中。
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