Bicycle Myth-Busting with Mike Burrows

In the summer of 2014 MadeGood.films caught up with Mike Burrows, who to some is the most influential bicycle designer in British history. Famous for designing the revolutionary Lotus bike with Chris Boardman, Mike took some time to talk to us about some commonly held cycling myths.

What’s the best material to make a bike from?

The first bicycles arrived in the early nineteenth century and were built largely of wood. Fast-forward to today and entering a bike shop one will be confronted by a dazzling array of machines, coming in all shapes, sizes, materials and price-tags. In this clip, expert cycle builder Mike Burrows outlines some essentials of understanding frame material, and dispels some of the myths surrounding the subject.

Why are bicycle forks set at an angle?

Mike Burrows is considered by many to be the doyen of British bike designers. Key to his success is a willingness to break the mould and challenge tradition in order to improve his craft. His nonconformist approach has brought a number of innovations which have redefined standards in cycle design. In this film he examines one of the fundamental givens of cycle geometry: fork angles.

Do wheels affect bicycle ride comfort?

The big leap forward in bicycle wheel design arrived in the mid-nineteenth century with the introduction of highly tensioned wire spokes. This technology, borrowed from the aviation industry, enabled wheels to be both weight-bearing and light. Since then, whilst wheel design has certainly been advanced, it is fair to say that to the casual cyclist at least, a degree of mystique has crept in and surrounds the practice of wheel building.

Can you climb hills on a laid back bicycle?

As the man responsible for such notable machines as the Windcheetah ‘Speedy’ trike, the Ratcatcher and the Ratracer, Mike Burrows is something of a trailblazer in the world of recumbent cycle design. Being a founder member of the British Human Power Club , he is strong advocate of laid-back cycling – for racing and recreation – and is eager to dispel any myths surrounding the mode.

Does shaving your legs make you cycle faster?

Victory and defeat in cycle sport can be decided by seconds, so even the most minor of adjustments to your setup can give critical marginal gains. Being both a racer and an engineer, bike designer Mike Burrows is famed for his rigorous approach to the physics of cycling. Air resistance is one of the biggest barriers to speed, so to give his creations the edge over the competition he pays particular attention to aerodynamics. Mike will modify anything to boost a bike’s speed, including the hair on its rider’s legs.


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