Outrageous Experiments

Myth Database – Riding a Reverse Bike Is Impossible

posted: 02/09/17
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Check Out a Clip From the Myth and Scroll Down for the Breakdown
MYTH: It is impossible for an average person to ride a bicycle with reversed steering without practice.


This myth centered around a bicycle modified such that when the handlebars are turned left, the bicycle moves to the right and vice versa. First, the six remaining candidates -- Brian, Allen, Hackett, Tamara, Martin and Jon -- had to build their modified bicycle (with no instructions), then ride it 12 feet. Circus performer and engineer Eric Gradman joined as guest judge.

All six had varying experiences with bicycles; Martin had been riding and building bikes since he was a child, while Jon had only ridden 10 times in his life. Despite this, all six were able to build their bikes successfully -- but failed their three attempts to ride them. It was as if none had ever ridden a bicycle before.

Why? In the words of Kyle Hill, "When you were a kid learning how to ride a bike your brain started developing a mental model of how riding a bike works. And now, our candidates are flipping variables around in that model making it as though they've never ridden a bike before. They say it takes weeks to retrain your brain to do this."

It would seem to be true. Although Eric was able to ride the reverse bike, the candidates, who lacked Eric's prior experience, were not. With a data set of 18 failed attempts, the myth was confirmed.
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