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Cycling Science

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Actually, a good alternate title for this post might be “confessions of a bike geek”, because when I was in college, I used to ride up to the library every so often to read the back issues of Cycling Science. Our library didn’t have the current issues, just the bound copies of back issues that they kept in the reference section. The articles by Chester Kyle about aerodynamics fascinated me the most, but I read all of the articles in the issues that they had. I have to admit that some of it was over my head at times, but Cycling Science was by far my favorite bicycle publication in the early nineties.

When I noticed that was selling a CD containing all 23 issues that were published between late 1989 and mid 1997, I felt compelled to order a copy. I received the CD several months ago and I haven’t had the chance to really go through it and read everything, but I think it is a great reference to own. Sure the articles are all a few years old, but I think anyone who is interested in the design of bicycles would benefit greatly from the information on the CD. The pages are actually scanned from the print magazines, so in addition to reading the articles, it is fun to look at all of the old advertisements. 24 bucks may seem a little high for a CD, but it is a purchase that I am really glad that I made.

Coincidently, right after I ordered the CD, I found a copy of the book Science of Cycling edited by Edmund Burke at a used book sale ($1 well spent). The book contains selected articles, many of which deal with the physiology of the rider, but it also has some good information about mechanical factors and equipment. I would recommend it too if you luck into a copy like I did.

Since I mentioned Dr. Burke, I will point out that the Cycling Science CD is dedicated to him. Some of you may remember that he died unexpectedly on a training ride in 2002, but he left us with the books and great articles that he wrote for Cycling Science as well as many, many other cycling publications. Even those of you who might not recognize his name have surely read some of his work. If you haven’t, I recommend that you order the CD and start now.

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  1. bikesgonewild May 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm -  Reply

    …i well remember ed burke’s passing in late 2002, as it had meaning for me…i’d never met the man but we were the same age & i was familiar w/ his work for years in the cycling & racing community…
    …in july ’02 i had a major heart surgery (5x by-pass) to correct a hereditary heart problem & by november i was carefully but seriously riding my way back into fitness…
    …learning about mr burke’s passing of a heart attack while he was out on a ride was a literal stunner for me, as i guess i foolishly assumed he was well equipped w/ the knowledge to not allow himself that jeopardy…
    …i could only imagine he was too consumed w/ helping others to realize his own need for attention…

    …anyway, sorry, if i’ve gotten off course here, james, but as you can see, your post brought up something that remains strong in both my mind & heart…

    …& while you may be a confessed ‘bike geek’, you have in my mind, one of the most interesting bike blogs on the ‘intertubes’…there are perhaps more technological sites but “bicycle design” offers not only a broad spectrum of interesting concepts but also a great forum for readers thoughts, ideas & links…
    …perhaps your mention of ed burke has me somewhat reflectively grateful but thank you for the opportunity to learn & experience new things through your site…

  2. jorgensen May 6, 2008 at 9:26 pm -  Reply

    I will have to reference it, for me it was Bike Tech, a newsletterish journal a bit earlier. Got to listen to Dr. Kyle at some lunchtime engineering student presentations he gave that I sneaked into when I was in school, now long ago.

    Thanks for the reference.

    by the way, found those drawings I did long ago of a road frame having the handlebars mounted at about where the fork crown is on most framesets. I will have to image it, too big to scan and forward it.. yes its been months now, children are the best excuse.

  3. James May 7, 2008 at 11:22 am -  Reply

    Bikesgonewild, you didn’t really get of course. I always appreciate your insightful comments and this time is no exception (and of course I am glad you are doing well after such a major surgery 5 years ago). Thanks for the blog compliment too. The thoughts and ideas added by you and all the other commenters are what keep this blog interesting to me. I definitely value the input and the chance to learn from all of the readers with similar interests to mine.

    Jorgensen, do you know where was Bike Tech published? Was it a British journal or am I thinking or something else. By the way, if you get a chance to scan that old drawing, I would like to see it. I’ll have to go back and find the old post that spurred that conversation.

  4. James May 7, 2008 at 11:26 am -  Reply

    Oops, I meant “off course”, not “of course”. As I said, I have learned a lot from writing this blog, but I still haven’t learned to proofread before hitting the publish button.

  5. Ron May 7, 2008 at 3:17 pm -  Reply

    I have grown up reading Kyle’s and Burke’s work. Thanks for notifying me of the cd. I may purchase a copy for the collectors library but for the uninitiated, “High Tech Cycling” by Dr. Burke tries to cover most parts but in less detail. Unless someone wants to go deeply into details, I’d suggest that book, which is, exactly what the book claims it is – ‘the science of riding fast’. Its a little dated but theory doesn’t change over the years.

  6. James May 8, 2008 at 8:36 am -  Reply

    I was mistaken about the origins of Bike Tech. Dr. Kyle pointed out that Rodale Press, the publishers of Bicycling Magazine, published it until 1988. At one point the publication had 10,000 subscribers.

    Ron, thanks for mentioning “High Tech Cycling” too. Anyone who is interested can find that book in the Amazon picks in my sidebar (sorry for the shameless plug, I couldn’t resist)

  7. Jay Coleman October 13, 2008 at 8:48 am -  Reply

    I, too, was a fan of Bike Science and studied it well for many years. I still kept my copy through many moves and upheavals. Back in the late eighties, early ninties, I decided to take a plunge and, based upon the equations, make some purchases. The equations held up well in pedal length and torque – which has made me rethink the concepts of using many gears for a transmission of limited power from limited muscle groups. Working with concepts of applied torque over time, over distance – I’ve come to the conclusion that this concept is more apt for a human having to move over a varied landscape while moving through a varied viscous atmosphere utilizing limited power but having multiple muscle groups requiring different recharging rates. During this testing period I discovered quite a few empirical issues as well as social issues such as don’t team with someone who doesn’t believe as you do as they will seek to pervert the outcome of exercises to fit their personal needs. And, there are few who have visions through the unknown. Many are able to pick apart something as it stands in front of them. I would enjoy posting some of what I’ve gleaned over the years and right at this moment I am feeling compelled to post it to your “design” posting. Sort of like, open source? That said, I’m going there now.

  8. Paul June 5, 2016 at 4:30 am -  Reply

    Is there a collection of Bike Tech newsletters similar to the Cycling Science CD?


  9. Fabio July 7, 2016 at 9:37 am -  Reply


    I tried to order the CD of cycling science but unfortunately is out of order.

    Do you know where I can find it? I need it for a research I am doing on cycling.

    I really appreciate if anyone can help me.

    Thanks a lot,


    • James Thomas July 11, 2016 at 10:06 am -  Reply

      Good idea, Paul. Fabio, you might want to try contacting John Marsh at RBR as well ( They no longer sell the CDs, but he might be able to point you in the right direction.

      • Paul July 13, 2016 at 4:17 am -  Reply

        Hi, James!

        Do you know where I can find the entire collection of Bike Tech newsletters? Is there a CD-ROM containing all the issues of this publication?


  10. Fabio July 14, 2016 at 1:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Paul and James,

    I asked John Marsh and he told me that he does not know if anyone else sells the cd.
    I really looked forward to this Cd especially to the articles of Chester Kyle about aerodynamics.

    do you know guys if someone has the CD?

    Thanks a lot for any help you can provide me,


  11. Fabio July 14, 2016 at 1:32 pm -  Reply

    I will try with Reddit now:)

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