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Motorcycle Dynamics by Prof. Vittore Cossalter

Motorcycle Dynamics
by Professor Vittore Cossalter
Softcover - 334 pages, 1st Edition (2002)
Publisher: Race Dynamics, Greendale, Wisconsin
ISBN: 0-9720514-0-6
Dimensions (in inches): 10.0 x 7.032 x .812

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Riding a motorcycle is great fun, and if that's the limit of your involvement in the sport, that's fine.  But this is a sport that seems to draw its practitioners deeper and deeper into the vortex, until finally reaching "total immersion". 

You know you're there when you equally enjoy talking about motorcycles, working on motorcycles, watching motorcycle racing, checking out motorcycle museums, riding dirt bikes, learning how to ride better and learning more about how motorcycles work.  

I'm interested in all of these different facets of the sport, but as one with a particular love for all things mechanical, I have a special appetite for learning more about how motorcycles work.  And there's a lot to be fascinated by, because the physical dynamics of riding a motorcycle are truly amazing.  Could it be that the harnessing of the complex and contradictory physical forces that keep a motorcycle upright is what makes riding one so appealing?

Only recently have the mathematics and physics of motorcycle riding been understood in a way that allows a description of the complex series of events that take place from before the clutch is released throughout the entire range of motorcycle movement and motion.  Very few people have the knowledge, and fewer yet have the ability to describe it.

Much of the work in understanding motorcycle physics has come from the University of Padova in Italy, and Professor Vittore Cossalter is one of the world's leading experts in the study of motorcycle dynamics.  Professor Cossalter has written many papers, articles and books on the subject, and his most recent book, Motorcycle Dynamics, focuses on the kinematics (a branch of dynamics that deals with aspects of motion apart from considerations of mass and force) and dynamics (a branch of mechanics that deals with forces and their relation primarily to the motion but sometimes also to the equilibrium of bodies) of motorcycles.   

I'd like to suggest that Professor Cossalter's book is considered as the "Bible" of motorcycle dynamics.  It starts with the basic description of a motorcycle and its geometry, and goes on to provide the reader with discussions of how tires, handling, suspension motion, vibration, and movement affect a motorcycle's motion and how they come into play to create the ride. 

Reading Motorcycle Dynamics is like uncovering the secrets of the motorcycling universe.  I'm not saying I understand it all -- far from it, as the book is definitely not a casual read, but is packed with drawings, graphics, charts and mathematical calculations that are far beyond my puny mental limitations.  But that doesn't mean I can't aspire to understand it.  This book, for me, is a perfect winter companion. 

I try to slowly digest it, working my way through the drawings, pencil in hand, in an attempt to break the mathematical code and understand what it's telling me.  The unfolding flower of knowledge emitted is comparable to Champollion's deciphering of the Rosetta Stone -- each tiny bit of knowledge gained is very well deserved, because it's hard won.

I know that it's all in there -- everything you'd ever want to know about every movement that makes a motorcycle what it is.  Even though it's highly technical, it's organized to step the reader through the various properties that affect everything that happens from the minute you swing your leg over the saddle.

All I can say is that I'm absolutely amazed at what really takes place during a simple ride.  If you have any curiosity at all about things like the physics of steering, tire contact points and their effect on handling, the forces that take place during acceleration and stopping, the dynamics of motorcycle suspension movement, structural rigidity and more, this is the book.  It's a bit expensive, but it's something that can be used as a lifetime reference resource as you become totally immersed in the sport.

NOTE:  webBikeWorld has no affiliation or financial interest in sales of this book or in Race Dynamics.  Race Dynamics has graciously provided a copy of the book for use by webBikeWorld.

Review Date:  May 2002

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