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The Lagrangian Method for a Basic Bicycle

DOI: 10.4236/jamp.2014.24007, PP. 46-60

Keywords: Nonholomic Constraints, Lagrangian Equations, Pseudovelocities, Nonlinear Order Differential Equations, Stability

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The ground plan in order to disentangle the hard problem of modelling the motion of a bicycle is to start from a very simple model and to outline the proper mathematical scheme: for this reason the first step we perform lies in a planar rigid body (simulating the bicylcle frame) pivoting on a horizontal segment whose extremities, subjected to nonslip conditions, oversimplify the wheels. Even in this former case, which is the topic of lots of papers in literature, we find it worthwhile to pay close attention to the formulation of the mathematical model and to focus on writing the proper equations of motion and on the possible existence of conserved quantities. In addition to the first case, being essentially an inverted pendulum on a skate, we discuss a second model, where rude handlebars are added and two rigid bodies are joined. The geometrical method of Appell is used to formulate the dynamics and to deal with the nonholonomic constraints in a correct way. At the same time the equations are explained in the context of the cardinal equations, whose use is habitual for this kind of problems. The paper aims to a threefold purpose: to formulate the mathematical scheme in the most suitable way (by means of the pseudovelocities), to achieve results about stability, to examine the legitimacy of certain assumptions and the compatibility of some conserved quantities claimed in part of the literature.


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