The Physics
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Speed of a Motorcycle: Loading a Bike

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This is a mechanics problem that a physics student should be able to solve.

Go to to watch the video clip "Loading A Bike"

In the clip "Loading a Bike", a man rides his motorcycle off a 45° ramp into a white van.

The following can be determined when analyzing the clip:

  1. Maximum Height
  2. Take Off Speed
  3. Horizontal Distance

1. Maximum Height

Find the hang time by counting the frames from when the motorcycle leaves the ramp until it enters the van using Windows Media Player Classic. The frame rate can be found by locating it at the bottom of Windows Media Player Classic.

hang time = 57 frames
frame rate = 25 frames per second

To calculate the hang time in seconds, divide the hang time by the frame rate.

time = (hang time)/(frame rate)
time = (57 frames)/(25 frames per second)
time = 2.28 seconds

Now assuming that the incline is 45° and the take off and landing are the same height, the maximum height can be found. Since we are calculating the maximum height, the time is halved.

s = yo + vot + ½&nsp;at2
ymax = 0 m + (0 m/s) t + ½&nsp;at2
ymax = ½&nsp;at2
ymax = ½&nsp;(9.81 m/s2)(1.14 s)2
ymax = 6.37 m

2. Take Off Speed

vy2 = vo2 + 2as
vy2 = (0 m/s)2 + 2aymax
vy2 = 2aymax
vy = (2aymax)½&nsp;
vy = (2(9.81 m/s2)(6.37 m))½&nsp;
vy = 11.18 m/s

tan 45° = (opposite)/(adjacent)
tan 45° = vy/vx
vx = vy/tan 45°
vx = (11.18 m/s)/(1) = 11.18 m/s

c2 = a2 + b2
v2 = vx2 + vy2
v = (vx2 + vy2)½
v = ((11.18 m/s)2 + (11.18 m/s)2)½
v = 15.81 m/s at 45°

3. Horizontal Distance

s = vxt
s = (11.18 m/s)(2.28 s)
s = 25.49 m

Manuel Caban -- 2005

Physics on Film
  1. Feature Films
    1. Tension in Spider-Man's webs
    2. Speed of a car: Bad Boys II
    3. Speed of a car: The Blues Brothers
    4. Speed of a car: The French Connection
    5. Speed of a car: Le Mans (Steve McQueen, 1971)
  2. One Reelers
    1. Speed of a car: C'était un Rendezvous
    2. Speed of a car: The Run
  3. Short Video Clips
    1. Speed of a baseball: Bird Baseball
    2. Speed of a cliff diver: Iraqi Olympic Diving
    3. Speed of a motorcycle: Loading a Bike
    4. Speed of a snowmobile: Snow Jump