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College Physics (Urone)
Found in: Page 355

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Short Answer

While driving his motorcycle at highway speed, a physics student notices that pulling back lightly on the right handlebar tips the cycle to the left and produces a left turn. Explain why this happens.

The angular momentum acts on the left side of the rotating wheels in forward direction. So, it initially turns in opposite direction of the handlebar is pulled back.

See the step by step solution

Step by Step Solution

Step 1: Concept of law of conservation of angular momentum.

The law of conservation of angular momentum states that there will be no change in the angular momentum unless an external torque acts on the object. The angular momentum of a system is conserved as long as there is no external torque acting on the system.

Step 2: Reason for motorcycle taking left turn.

When the wheels are rotating in the forward direction, the angular momentum acts on the left side of the wheel and the torque acts perpendicular to the direction of angular momentum towards the person riding the bike. So, when the right handlebar is pulled back lightly, the motorcycle takes a left turn initially for a few periods of time. After some period of time, the motorcycle moves to the right.

This is also due to the gyroscopic effect of the rotating wheels.

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