Gear Up: The Science of Bikes

Gear Up: The Science of Bikes

June 1, 2023 – January 2024

From schoolyards and mountain trails to bustling city streets, we encounter bicycles nearly every day. Since its inception in the late 19th century, the bicycle has affected how people live, work, and play. Its popularity has only grown over time, and it is as relevant today as it was 100 ago.

Visitors of GEAR UP will learn how bikes work, the science and technology behind the machine as well as the history and evolution of the bike and how bikes have impacted our culture.

Like the bicycle itself, this exhibition has been designed to appeal to people of all ages with diverse interests, from STEM to design to history to art.

GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes includes 10 bikes exemplifying these categories:

  • ORIGINS: Ancestors of the modern bicycle, such as the Penny Farthing.
  • CLASSICS: (1930s – 1970s) From streamlined bikes such as the Black Phantom to Boomers’ Big Wheels and Schwinn Sting-Rays.
  • SPORT BIKES: (1970s – Present) Multi-speed cycles from pro competition to everyday use.
  • ODDITIES AND OFFSHOOTS: Bicycles customized in endless ways– from Tall Bikes to unicycles to clown bikes.

The exhibition also includes a dozen interactive science exhibits, including:

  • Hit the Brakes: Visitors put on the brakes on this spinning disk, using three different pads to see how materials affect friction.
  • Bike Body Xylophone: A series of tubes of different materials is ‘played’ by the visitor to explore why bikes can be made from different alloys.
  • Gear Table: For younger visitors, a simple table of magnetic gears allows them to experiment with simple interlocking mechanisms of their own making.