Technical/physics questions about balance on wheels.

Just visiting (FWIW. I juggle a little but no unicycling yet). I have
a general question related to balance on a single wheel I hope someone
here might be able to help answer.

I am assuming (correct if wrong) the seat of a unicycle typically is
rigidly connected to the fork. What if the pedals were replaced by two
short bars sticking straight out from the axle so that the cycle would
coast.

I am concerned with side to side balance, not forward/reverse balance.

If your hands were hanging on to something (a tow, let’s just say the
tow is at a comfortable height with respect to your body) which is
pulling you along, when your tow turns to the left or right, would you
have to conciously make the adjustment to turn in the same direction
as the tow?

I guess you would, especially since your body weight would go off to
the left if the tow moves to the right, and that leftward balance
would at best not help you turn in the same direction as your tow.
(Pretend that the tow does not pull your upper body in the leading
direction.)

Another question, a continuation. What if your hands are controlling
the direction of the tow. With practice, would you be able to
coordinate the direction of the tow with your proper leaning on top of
the wheel? (I am assuming that leaning on a moving unicycle helps
control wheel direction, I do not know about that). Would such
coordination become more difficult or maybe impossible at high speeds?

Maybe another way of looking at the questions above is like imagining
a human bicycle where you are the frame, whether you would be able to
coordinate the rear wheel with the front wheel.

Thanks in advance for any guesses.


I invent things, and I am not just making that up.
http://home.att.net/~lshaping/

We had a discussion a few weeks ago about what causes a unicycle to be able to turn:

http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=20698

It seemed to me after some thought that it results from the kinetics of a spinning wheel. In summary, when you lean to the side it can be found from newton’s second law that the result is a twist into a turn, rather than a tilt to the side.

To extend this to the case of the tow that pulls you, as you mentioned; If you were at rest perfectly balanced atop the uni, and the tow moved to the side, then you would have to do nothing in order to twist. If you are moving foward, though, the wheel has some momentum that must be overcome. If the applied force by the tow is a twist, then the uni would respond not by turning, but by leaning to the side. To make a turn, the unicyclist would have to initiate it himself with a lean. Hope this helps!
-gauss