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What happens when you ask people to draw a bike (2016) (gianlucagimini.it)
566 points by dlazar 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 187 comments





Drawing and painting is almost entirely a visual skill. The mechanical skills of wielding a pencil or mixing paint are almost trivial; the hard part is being able to see what's actually there.

A bicycle is an incredibly simple visual form. You can doodle one in about five seconds. They're not rare or unusual objects and they're relatively homogenous. Nonetheless, most people have never actually seen a bicycle. They've looked, but they haven't understood its form, they haven't decomposed it into lines and shapes. They know that it has two wheels, a chain, a saddle and some handlebars, but they've never actually noticed the shapes that join them together.

https://www.amazon.com/Drawing-Right-Side-Brain-Definitive/d...


> A bicycle is an incredibly simple visual form

I disagree, compared with most objects a human daily interacts with - doors, furniture, lifts, cars - a bicycle is one of the most complex visible forms. I'm talking about what can be seen from outside, since obviously a car is much more complex on the inside.

Most of the stuff we deal with is composed of square/boxes and circle/tubes. Triangular shapes are quite rare in human spaces (I don't have any in my house), and the bicycle critically has two triangles at it's core. Chains are also very rare. So I don't think it's a surprise that many struggle with the core - two triangles and a chain.


Clench your fist. Take a moment to notice the complexity of the geometry. Consider how you might reduce that shape to simple geometric forms. Consider how you might represent the three-dimensional form as a set of two-dimensional lines. Turn your hand around and look at it from a different angle. Open your fist and make an "OK" or a "peace" sign.

Go to your refrigerator and take out a lettuce leaf or a piece of broccoli. Look out of your window at a tree or a bush. Go to your bathroom and look at the toilet or the faucet. Look in the mirror and make a funny face.

A bicycle is more complicated than many rectilinear man-made objects, but it's a relatively straightforward collection of lines. Even the drawings in the linked article with their horribly mangled geometry are immediately recognisable as a bicycle. It's not a difficult thing to draw, relatively speaking.


You conflate geometry and topology * . The topology of the human hand is right in front of you to examine. A lettuce leaf is like a disk plus a wavy boundary and noise. Broccoli is a tree. A bicycle is topologically complex object with high genus. A bad drawing of a hand can still has the right connectivity, it could be smoothly deformed into a realistic hand. Not true for most of these bicycle drawings.

* using "topology" to refer to the graph structure of the skeleton of the solid, not the typical mathematical meaning.


> it could be smoothly deformed into a realistic hand.

It's probably a good thing that this isn't what defines a drawing as good. A bicycle frame has a couple straight lines and that's about it. A hand, or broccoli, has complex compound curves all over the place.

Ask any artist to draw a bicycle and it'll probably end up pretty good. Ask any artist to draw a hand and there's a good chance it'll not end up good, even when using reference material.

There's a reason a lot of artists have problems drawing hands.


Hands aren't hard to draw because hands are super complicated; hands are hard to draw because humans are evolutionarily finely tuned to recognize and be disgusted by distorted human bodies, which in nature is a signal of disease. Look at the diversity of broccoli proportion at the grocery, then imagine hands with the same diversity -- grotesquely long or lumpy or twisted, which too few or too many fingers. OTOH, cartoon hands, outside the uncanny valley, look fine, even when (as is common) missing a finger.

They just need to pull the Escher trick and draw a hand that can draw hands.

That maybe because hands have a dynamic form/shape while a bicycle has a static form and is thus easier to remember or draw.

> Look out of your window at a tree ...

> Even the drawings in the linked article with their horribly mangled geometry are immediately recognisable as a bicycle. It's not a difficult thing to draw, relatively speaking.

I guess, the point is that a bike is easier to draw that natural objects.

I bet if people had been asked to draw a tree, 100% of the pictures would be recognisable as proper tree. Conversion from reality to visual representation is not only a function of object complexity it is much more complex (pun intended).


Ah, this is where it gets interesting.

I suspect the author of the (wonderful) book linked above would suggest that 100% of the pictures would be recognizable as a _picture of a tree_ -- a form which we all learn by age 5 but which does not actually correspond to a physical tree much, if at all.


Exactly. We don't learn to draw the tree we see out of the window, but the idea of a tree. Children don't really draw - they write in pictograms. We teach them icons that represent things, but we don't teach them how to translate seeing into drawing. The bicycle drawings show how quickly that habit of drawing the idea of a thing breaks down.

We falter when we try to draw something that we haven't learned the "correct" pictogram for, because our mental concept of the thing is completely divorced from the appearance of the thing. Most adults can just about draw a chair isometric projection, because they learned how to draw a cube. That crude model of perspective usually falls apart when they try to draw a dog - they know that it's supposed to have four legs, but they can't work out where to put them. You end up with a drawing like this:

https://ellenhenderson.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/dog_new1....


> The bicycle drawings show how quickly that habit of drawing the idea of a thing breaks down.

That's because the idea is vague in most people's mind. The don't really care (and they shouldn't need to of course). Ask a bike engineering to draw it, and they will be pretty accurate. However, the people whose idea is vague doesn't know it's vague, which is interesting, and I guess that's the point of the article.

In fact, this translates to much more than drawings, but for all facets of any complexity. You often hear people claim that a particular problem is easy, "just" do X!


That dog's legs seem fine, once you consider the (over-constraining) constraints of drawing using a single outline with no 3-D / z-layer structure.

If your goal was to point out how much more complex a hand is than a bicycle, I don't think that logic follows. Drawing hands are hard too!

Drawling lettuce? Lettuce doesn't have obvious structural flaws if you get the veins wrong. A green blob with a few lines will pass the test a lot easier than these bicycles.


If you want to draw a line-drawing of a hand vs a bicycle, the hand is much easier - four parallel fingers off a palm, with a thumb off at an angle.

The bicycle is much more complex geometrically - wheels in tandem, triangular frame, relationship with seat, handlebars, tire forks, sprockets and chain, pedals, brakes & brake handles if you're picky...

A photorealistic hand is hard to draw/render because of the complexity of the materials and curves, fine texture like hairs, freckles, pores, fingernails, etc., but you wouldn't expect or get those asking your 30 people to take two minutes and draw a hand.


> Triangular shapes are quite rare in human spaces (I don't have any in my house)

Triangles are essential in low-weight rigid structures. Look at any exposed steel construction around you (a bridge, perhaps) and you will see many triangles. The utility poles and streetlights in my neighbourhood use triangles. Unless your house has a flat root, the upper most floor is likely composed of triangles (called trusses) that you can't see because they are hidden. (They would be easy to spot in barn.) Even the desk I am sitting at now has triangles to ensure the legs don't collapse if the desk is shoved sideways. If you happen to live in a seismically active place, you would likely see triangular bracing on many buildings. And finally if you (or your kids) have even done one of those engineering challenges in school where you have to make a tall, load-bearing and light-weight structure on a budget you likely used triangles. Triangles are everywhere, if you learn to see them.

And as for the main point of this post - one reason to learn to draw is that it forces you to really see what you are drawing. Drawing from your imagination is no substitute.


> Triangular shapes are quite rare in human spaces Not a football fan, eh? Triangles are the essential building block for breaking down defenses. </bad_joke>

As for what you actually meant, triangles (and other variations of 3) play a very import role in visual design. Admittedly, these might not be obvious to most. I know you really meant physical items. However, it might be a style of design of a more modern era. I have a glass coffee table that has a triangular raised extension, from the 50s I believe. I also have a round two tier table, built by my grandfather in the 50s as well. The top tier sits on an X shaped pier with 90 degree notches cut out of the verticals leaving a very distinct triangular shape, plus the gaps of the X shape as well. Just from memory, the cars from the 50s had lots of triangular shapes/markings, specifically thinking of the fins. I wonder why the triangle seems to have fallen out of favor?


Even for cars, it's hard to get the relative positions of wheels and windows and the hood right on the first try.

>The mechanical skills of wielding a pencil or mixing paint are almost trivial

I strongly disagree. Try drawing a large shape without using a template. If you move the pencil with your fingers, you quickly run out of range of motion, and have to reposition your hand and join the new line segment without visible discontinuity, which requires extreme accuracy[0]. If you move it mostly with your arm then you have to learn the difficult and unnatural skill of fine motor control using large muscles. In practice the only good option is using a combination of both, which requires great coordination. The visual part is easy after you learn a few simple tricks like looking at negative space. The mechanical skills are the difficult part.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernier_acuity


Completely untrained people can trace a drawing with a good degree of accuracy, yet fail completely to draw even simple forms with any degree of verisimilitude.

Teachers like Betty Edwards and Bert Dodson have proven that pretty much anyone can learn to draw to a high standard in a remarkably short space of time once they understand the visual principles of effective drawing. Mastering draftsmanship requires a lifetime of practice, but competence can be achieved in a matter of days with the right instruction.


> Completely untrained people can trace a drawing with a good degree of accuracy, yet fail completely to draw even simple forms with any degree of verisimilitude.

I always felt this was an argument against what you are saying. Tracing doesn't require much fine motor control because you can rest your hand on the paper and go over the existing image with very small strokes.

For example, try drawing the simplest of all forms: a straight line. I always found that good drawers can draw an incredibly straight line, freehand. My "straight" lines look like I was standing on a boat in rough seas. Yet certainly visualizing the properties of a straight line seems very simple to me. Even, for example, drawing a straight line smoothly between two other lines on a piece of filler paper is something that a good drawer could do much better than I.


> try drawing the simplest of all forms: a straight line

My high school algebra/geometry teacher, Fr. Arnold Perham, taught me this crucial skill almost 30 years ago and I use it frequently still and teach my own students how to do it. The trick: put your chalk/pencil/marker at the start of the segment; then look at the other end of the segment and keep your eyes there; and then draw the line. It's like magic.


Huh, this sounds strongly related to target fixation. Look at your target and your body 'knows' how to go there (or throw there, or...)

The classic example is if you're riding a motorbike and you start worrying that you're going to run wide, or hit a tree, or whatever, so you start staring at the side of the road, or the tree... and that's where you go.


Also in tennis: look there the ball should go, not at it as you hit it.

> Tracing doesn't require much fine motor control because you can rest your hand on the paper and go over the existing image with very small strokes.

Drawing requires exactly the same motor skills as tracing, except that the thing you're tracing isn't there yet.


Only if you can track your absolute position with exceptional accuracy.

I know a lot of artists that talk about the importance of learning how to better draw longer lines in one go. Are you saying they're all wrong, and that skill isn't important?


> Mastering draftsmanship requires a lifetime of practice

Draftsmanship is quickly learned by young people. I sat next to a 20 year old at Boeing who was very competent at making engineering drawings (and Boeing had high standards - they didn't want any ambiguity for obvious reasons). Though perhaps you mean something else by draftsmanship.


draftsmanship (noun)

1) the art or craft of a draftsman

2) the skill of drawing

Draftsmanship refers to both technical and artistic drawing skill.


Come on, mechanical drawing and 'artistic' drawing are totally different skills. The best technicians, with the highest level of mechanical drawing training and experience, wouldn't be able to draw a portrait.

RISD asks applicants to draw their bike as part of the application. It's tough because both originality and observational skills are needed (google "risd bike").

But OMG it is important to realise that being able to make measured, technical drawings is not the same as being a renaissance draftsman, capable of the most incredible evocations of the human body etc.


I'm not saying that they're the same thing, I'm saying that the word "drafting" applies to both. Art history books frequently make reference to the draftsmanship of an artist like Da Vinci or Dürer. The words "draft", "draw" and "drag" have the same etymological root and all three are partial synonyms.

>Teachers like Betty Edwards and Bert Dodson have proven that pretty much anyone can learn to draw to a high standard in a remarkably short space of time once they understand the visual principles of effective drawing.

As someone with pretty much zero ability to draw, that caught my attention. What would be "a short space of time"? Are we talking days, months, years?


You can improve your drawing about a thousandfold in the span of a couple minutes by learning to observe things instead of just what you think they look like.

Go grab something as reference material, anything moderately complex will do. Now when you look at this thing, ignore what it is or even what three dimensional shape it has. Look for edges. The edge between the background and the object, The edges internal to the object. Look for the position of these features relative to the others. Keep doing this while you draw exactly what you see. Resist the temptation to draw without looking at what it actually looks like.

Of course once you've managed to look at things properly you'll still need tons of practice with drawing, but just doing this is going to stop you from drawing pictograms instead of pictures.


I'm a terrible artist, not even a doodler, but I remember one time sitting in a long boring meeting where I stared at the profile of someone's face and carefully drew it with amazing accuracy (relative to my utter non-ability, not relative to a good sketch artist)

It depends. Drawing and programming share some aspects. You can do a short program in "oil painting language" easily, but it takes years to master the media.

You need to keep the focus on it for a long time and build it in small steps. A telephone or somebody breaking in the room and your work could be permanently damaged and you will need a lot of effort to keep the focus again. Sometimes the image just "dies" in the way of being painted.

Painting is often done in imperative style and can be a painful, demanding and really tiresome work. Some people underestimate the effort needed to do it right. You need to "declare" all your tones in advance, fill the shadows and keep in mind a rigid frame to place it. If you do it in several sessions you will need to obtain the same exact tone again (or have a plan B in advance), so you'll need to make a lof ot comments and document your work.

And there are bugs. You will find a lot of bugs in the process and will need to fix it in a short time. Some mediums dry fast and crack easily. Different pigments spread in different ways. Some tones are notoriously complex to obtain also (realistic 3D gold for example) and you can't learn the right way in a week. The eyes of your public have evolved to detect abnormal tones for good reasons (would denote diseases or people faking emotions so is survival relevant). A skin too pale or with a greenish tone or a slight curve in the rictus and your picture can enter in autopilot mode or just sink.

Sometimes the painting turns in a such mess that you just trown the code away and start again.

Automatic drawing is drawing in functional style and is a totally different creature.


Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain is an astonishing book that revolutionized my own artistic practice. The simple but difficult emphasis on drawing what actually see and not what you think you see takes real presence and mindfulness to master. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in art. Even if you don't go through the exercises, the principles in there can really inform different ways of thinking.

I went to lessons in the spirit of this book (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain), but I didn’t have the patience. What kind of artist are you if I may ask? Do you think it is of substantial value for an aspiring UI designer starting literally from scratch to focus on learning to draw well?

I'm a painter, mostly oils. I got burned out in the film industry and switched to CS as a career (distributed systems mostly) and then took up painting very seriously on the side as the outlet for my expression.

A million years ago in 7th grade a well-intentioned art teacher tried to lead us through DFTRSOTB and my classmates were having none of it. I remembered a few of the points from that, and then I took a drawing class in college as an elective where DFTRSOTB wasn't used directly but lots of the exercises were clearly derived from it. When I took up painting, I started drawing as a discipline to augment my painting and finally got myself a copy of the book.

I think the book would be of tremendous value to a UI designer, but in a sideways manner. You don't necessarily need to be able to draw and render realistically to do UI design, but the practices and exercises in the book build your ability to dig through layers of your own perception, assumption, and cognitive bias when you're _really_ looking at something. That's a big concept, but this bike project provides a pretty good "for instance" illustration. All the participants drew their mental conception of a bike instead of really looking at and studying a bike and all the components and how they fit together.


I also whole-heartedly recommend it.

When I took my first drawing class, the teacher didn't use it, but I kind of went through the book in parallel (excuse me, concurrently :-) with the class. That helped SO MUCH when he was (wildly) inarticulate, and occasionally near-incompetent at explaining things. (I say near-incompetent based on the results of the other student's drawings... they did what he said, and failed utterly).

So if you're incredibly lucky, you can find a class that uses it. By all means, ask around and find out about teachers in your area. I recommend Art-League (i.e., artist-run groups) instead of community colleges (like my first class), but those can be good too.

And, yeah, do all the exercises in DotRSotB in order, and practice a lot, and you'll get somewhere.


As Sherlock Holmes would say to Dr. Watson: "You see, but you don't observe".

So I quite agree with you - but it feels surprising that so many people just don't do any validation of their model in their head. _How_ the author was asking to draw the bicycle probably mattered. E.g. "immediately draw me a men’s bicycle, by heart" vs: "think about how a bicycle actually works and draw that".

BTW - In all honesty, it took me, too, a second to spot what was missing on the first picture.


At least for me, the mechanical skill with the pencil does hold me back for non-organic shapes. I have trouble sketching things I can see clearly, but its not significantly harder for things I am only familiar with. For example, if I tried to sketch my bike, I would have no trouble getting the structure correct, but I would have trouble getting smooth wheels.

You don't have to draw freehand. A t-square, a pair of compasses and a set of French curves are pretty much essential if you want to accurately draw precise geometric forms.

This seems like moving the goalposts.

You also don’t have to draw “free eye”. There are plenty of tools you can use like tracing paper, photographic references, coloring books with the lines already drawn, ...

None of my illustrator friends use french curves or compasses to do their sketching, and usually even skip using a straightedge, but through practice can make very nice straight lines, right angles, circles, other curved lines, etc.

Hand-eye coordination at the level that professionals have takes an incredible amount of training/practice. It’s hard to imagine how you would even disentangle their practice at mental visualization vs. practice at proprioception, etc.


Most people can accurately trace a line drawing, but can't accurately copy it by eye. Try it for yourself and you should see that your manual dexterity isn't a meaningful bottleneck in your ability to draw.

Drafting tools might well be a crutch, but they were considered essential in the days when engineering drawings and technical illustrations were routinely done by hand. If you need to use a spline to draw smooth curves or construction lines to draw perspective, so what?


By the same token, if you need a computer to draw [this or that] so what? Or for that matter, if you need to hire a trained draftsperson to do it, so what?

> Most people can accurately trace a line drawing, but can't accurately copy it by eye.

Yes, tracing a line drawing has much more direct feedback. The correct line is right there, and there is no need to synchronize imagination with hand movements. (Untrained people are still very slow and error-prone at tracing though, compared to professionals.)

In a similar way, people have an easier time playing a piano tune if you directly show them which notes to play on a physical piano a few at a time right before they press the keys themselves vs. if you let them hear a whole tune and then try to play it from memory a few minutes afterward.

That doesn’t make piano playing an “almost entirely audial skill, with almost trivial mechanical skills” involved.


> That doesn’t make piano playing an “almost entirely audial skill, with almost trivial mechanical skills” involved.

I'd say it does. I have terrible hand-eye coordination but can play piano at a decent level (whereas I'm distinctly bad at e.g. tennis). Playing a piece I already know on the violin on the piano (or vice versa) is a much simpler exercise than learning a new piece from scratch.


”The mechanical skills of wielding a pencil or mixing paint are almost trivial”

Trivial? Painting a single shape everybody knows got Giotto a job (http://theorbitbrown.com/site/the-perfect-circle/)

There are huge differences between humans in drawing ability and training.

But yes, in the case of these drawings, it seems the main difference is that many people apparently have never looked at a bicycle frame. I expect that to be somewhat different in countries where bicycles and people repairing their own bicycles are more common.


The Giotto story is almost certainly a myth. It's also largely irrelevant; anyone can draw a perfect circle in two seconds with a pair of compasses or a piece of string.

There are huge differences in drawing ability, but going from "I can't draw" to "I can draw quite well" takes days, not years. Becoming a confident and capable draftsman is a skill that anyone can learn to a surprisingly high degree of proficiency in a remarkably small amount of time. Most of us won't become Albrecht Dürer, but we all have the innate capacity to draw well if we simply understand the process.


>going from "I can't draw" to "I can draw quite well" takes days, not years

Only if you consider a messy "chicken scratch" style good. I can draw things that look acceptable when you blur your eyes enough (which is indeed easy to learn), but I wouldn't claim to "draw quite well" unless I could do it with clean lines, which takes years of practice. When evaluating difficulty of a skill it's more usual to measure by difficulty of mastering it, not difficulty of getting beyond the very basics, and by that measure the mechanical side is much more difficult than the visual side.


here's a pro tip that I learnt in the animation scene

1. grab a wooden pencil 2. hold it so that the broad side of the lead touches the paper, not the point - you'll get a broad, pale grey line 3. rough in your drawing this way 4. when you feel like you have a solid drawing, switch to the tip of the pencil (or to a pen) and trace the lines you made in step 3

This will make it a lot easier to have a nice, clean drawing done with bold, clean lines. You will also probably end up with a silver patch on the heel of your hand from dragging it across all those light lines, along with a gray haze - a delicate touch with a kneaded eraser can fix that, or just draw with a col-erase pencil, finish with graphite, and abuse the levels in Photoshop to drop out the color.

Being able to knock out a drawing with precise lines and no underdrawing does take years, but being able to simply create a drawing with precise lines can happen a lot earlier once you've picked up a few One Weird Tricks.


> There are huge differences in drawing ability, but going from "I can't draw" to "I can draw quite well" takes days, not years

Maybe for some people, but not everyone.

I have developmental dyspraxia, a.k.a. developmental coordination disorder. I'm never going to be good at anything that requires fine motor control. Maybe at best I could get the first few strokes of a drawing to look good, but after that it's going to fall apart. I know this from my experience with seriously trying to improve my handwriting back when I was 24 because I was tired of writing chicken scratch all the time: I can now make the first few words of a paper—maybe if I'm lucky even the whole first line—look fantastic, but after that I just lose any sense of alignment and proportion and everything starts slanting in random directions and changing size all over the place. [0]

It is a medical condition, and there is no cure.

[0] This image on Wikipedia sums up my handwriting pretty well. It's specifically about motor dysgraphia [1], which is part of my dyspraxia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dysgraphia.jpg

[1] From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysgraphia

> Motor dysgraphia is due to deficient fine motor skills, poor dexterity, poor muscle tone, or unspecified motor clumsiness. Letter formation may be acceptable in very short samples of writing, but this requires extreme effort and an unreasonable amount of time to accomplish, and it cannot be sustained for a significant length of time, as it can cause arthritis-like tensing of the hand. Overall, their written work is poor to illegible even if copied by sight from another document, and drawing is difficult. Oral spelling for these individuals is normal, and their finger tapping speed is below normal. This shows that there are problems within the fine motor skills of these individuals. People with developmental coordination disorder may be dysgraphic. Writing is often slanted due to holding a pen or pencil incorrectly


There are a number of excellent artists who have cerebral palsy or tetraplegia. If you have limited fine motor control, you can paint or draw in large-format using gross movements. If you shake or twitch, you can work in mosaic, collage or pixel art. If you can't grasp objects, you can use a typewriter to make pointillist drawings.

To be fair, I've recently gotten into typesetting anime fansubs, and I've found it to be highly rewarding.

It doesn't require any fine motor skills, as it's all done in a really janky scripting language called ASS. I can do all kinds of four-dimensional text transforms just by writing code, and I've been able to produce some wonderful-looking effects.


Uh. I'm a professional artist and my handwriting looks about like the bottom half of the sample most of the time, unless I am explicitly focusing on making each letter look pretty.

If you understand how a bicycle works it's easy to draw. Most people don't care to understand things on a deeper level.

Uh if you take the time to imagine pedaling a bicycle and turning the handlebars it's easy to draw. Even people that understand bikes probably default to a visual representation rather than a "mechanical" representation because they're confident in their visual memory

> Nonetheless, most people have never actually seen a bicycle.

This is culture specific. In The Netherlands, kids see bicycles as they grow up. They see children going to elementary school on them, they see them after school, they're an important part of our culture and in large cities they're practically everywhere. Heck, I got brought to kindergarten on... a bicycle. You can be sure as hell any kid of age 4 or higher has seen a bicycle (4 is the age they enter elementary school). In the Catholic area of NL, its very much a tradition that after communion the child gets their own bicycle. IIRC that's around 7 or 8 years. Whether kids (from NL, of whatever age) can draw a bicycle is a different matter, I cannot judge on that one.


If you Google "learning how to see [like an artist]" type of queries, you'll find lots of useful information, like this:

http://www.learning-to-see.co.uk/negative-shapes-design


> The mechanical skills of wielding a pencil or mixing paint are almost trivial; the hard part is being able to see what's actually there.

Cool, now draw a picture of a hand wielding a pencil. :-)


If you scroll down, the designer has produced images that match some of the ideas from the sketches. They are beautiful and mesmerizing.

At first I thought he had actually built out the physical bicycles from the sketches, but it turns out they are just computer renderings. Nonetheless it shows the power of "mistake" driven design, to generate novel ideas.


As odd at is - this[1] design has a couple elements that have been reproduced in the real world.

While the exact 2wd system shown in the rendering would have some real issues, 2wd mountain bike systems do exist. They can rely on impressively strange chain routing[2], a system of gears and internal shafts[3], or just an electric hub[4] (which is admittedly, not really the same thing).

As far as the one-sided frame goes, Canondale makes a one-sided fork called the Lefty[5], that's in mass production and reasonably popular. One-sided rear triangles only seem to exist on motorcycles, and there's an interesting discussion here[6] on why that's the case, with an example of a one-off "righty" bicycle.

[1] http://www.gianlucagimini.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Gian...

[2] https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-gear/all-wheel-drive-m...

[3] http://christinibicycles.com/

[4] https://newatlas.com/easy-motion-evo-awd-big-bud-ebike/54434...

[5] https://www.cannondale.com/en/International/Innovation/lefty...

[6] http://forums.mtbr.com/general-discussion/why-dont-we-have-l...


I have a Strida ( http://www.strida.com/ ) which is one-sided on each wheel. It rides just like a regular bike, and means you don't have to take the wheel off to change a tube.

2wd on a bicycle is just plain silly. Weight and friction are such huge disadvantages to overcome. Even on a mountain bike extra traction from the front seems like a very limited benefit. I think Yamaha and Ohlins made a hydraulic motorcycle 2wd prototype. There the loses and weight aren't such a big deal. My understanding was that the extra material you have to add to strengthen the suspension sort of negates any weight benefits for telescopic forks. On motorcycles a single sided swing arm has the same issues, but at least there is a practical benefit when you need to change a tyre quickly.

I think you're right, though 2wd eBikes might be different.

Our local trail association currently uses a Rokon: https://www.rokon.com/ - for trail maintenance, and it's just about perfect for that application. I could imagine them replacing it with a 2WD eBike at some point.


It really depends on center of mass and friction coefficient. Most cycling situations are wheelie before wheel slip. Even on dirt and up a hill the rider can just shift their weight backwards to get traction. A powered bike is probably different, with lower center of mass.

> 2wd on a bicycle is just plain silly. Weight and friction are such huge disadvantages to overcome.

Chains are pretty efficient (otherwise we wouldn't use them in the first place) and the weight difference would be tiny for a normal-weight person. If you've ever skidded in rain or ice 2wd seems like it could make sense.


Did you skid from beastly leg power or from braking or cornering though...

I didn’t know about 2WD bikes existed! I’d love to try out to experience how it feels to drive 2WD.

The Lefty design also looks very interesting, do you have practical experience with it?

What an amazing comment full of new eye-opening information for me, thanks


I've ridden a lefty a couple times, and apart from the visuals, it didn't really feel unusual. I more or less didn't notice that I was on a lefty.

Here's an article that looks at it a bit more in depth: https://factoryjackson.com/2016/02/18/cannondale-lefty-the-s...

I haven't tried a 2WD, but everything I've read suggests that the added weight and friction delivers pretty limited utility, at least in non-electric versions.


I've rode a design similar to Lefty on the Mobike bike-sharing program in Germany (Dusseldorf, but they are around in many cities).

The difference wasn't really noticeable (bike-share bikes are already hefty enough that this is a minor difference).


I rode the lefty for years. Its a great bike. Though, you can actually feel the fact that its slightly less structurally sound than a traditional fork.

But I loved it.


They're not even renderings of 3D models; they're all done in Photoshop! I'm impressed with what can be done with an image editor to create new shapes out of thin air.

That was the best part. When I just looked at the 50 drawings I sure noticed that most of them had something wrong, but at the same time my brain seems to have corrected what I'm seeing; "yep it's a bike alright"

But then seeing these detailed, realistic takes on the drawings suddenly made it so absurd. I lost it at a couple of them and I'm wondering how the author was doing while making them.


There seems to be two things tested in this exercise. Technical drawing capabilities and knowledge of bicycle mechanics.

I assume most people that drew bicycles have ridden one, but there are a few basic common mistakes. The location of the pedals (closer to rear wheel, very near to floor), the way the chain operate, and the triangle frame are some examples. I did not notice anyone drawing details around the gear mechanisms nor the breaks. Many people demonstrated acceptable drawing technique while getting mechanical details of the bicycle incorrect.

I think this exercise highlights a great amount of ignorance around bicycles. I purpose society would benefit from better bicycle education. Better bicycle education might encourage bicycle adoption (needs testing to verify), and bicycle ridership improves climate change, obesity, traffic, and heart disease. In addition to increased adoption, bicycle education would improve bicycle safety.

Bicycle education as a semester long optional course in high school is a great reach goal. It could mirror driver education where teenagers learn traffic rules and laws, and also basic bicycle maintenance. Perhaps with enough active bicycle riding time it could count as a Physical Education credit.

A good first step would be more high quality videos and pamphlets on the topic of bicycle education.


I don't think bicycle adoption could be higher than it is in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, I'm quite sure people would have trouble drawing a bicycle over here as well.

Really, the primary reason for the high adoption here is proper, safe infrastructure. (Being flat helps, but there are plenty of flat cities around the world that are not seeing as much adoption.)

I also don't think you'd need a whole semester of bicycle education. Most children here get a few lessons at primary school and do an informal exam, and that's it. The primary reason for that being enough is, again, safe infrastructure.


Was in Amsterdam this past weekend. Nobody wears helmets, even the kids. taxi driver explained that every grows up biking from a very young age. infrastructure is quite good. And driving sucks with the speed traps, tourists, canals, trams, etc.

I don't know why they let mopeds/gas scooters cruise in bike lanes right next to the sidewalk. I imagine the vast majority of accidents are some combo of bike/moped/tourist, and with the speed some mopeds are going it could be very ugly


The government just recently allowed cities to decide whether to allow scooters on the bike lanes or on the main road. Presumably, Amsterdam will soon choose for the latter.

They are in the process of doing exactly that.

> There seems to be two things tested in this exercise. Technical drawing capabilities and knowledge of bicycle mechanics.

A lot of people here are saying that drawing is part of the challenge. I very much doubt it.

My drawing skills, including technical drawing skills, are terrible. You should have seen me yesterday when I was looking at an apartment where the owner didn't have a floor plan and I tried to sketch one without a ruler.

However, I tried and can draw a bike that works just fine. Maybe it's because I'm Dutch or because I used to be into BMX biking (when I was 9-14 years old) so I looked at more bikes than the average person on planet earth, but I was surprised when friends also couldn't draw one properly. I guess I am just one of a few who ever paid enough attention to the construction to get it right?

In any case, my drawing is absolutely awful. Out of a class of 30 in high school, I was the only one who the teacher just gave a passing grade out of pity. Most others couldn't draw amazingly either, but it was passable. Mine wasn't. But I got a passing grade because the teacher clearly saw that I tried and paid attention to his instructions.

I do not think that drawing skills have anything to do with connecting the lines to the right places. Even if it's misshapen and out of proportions, the lines that make up the bike should still connect to the right points.


Missing the basic triangle frame or connecting the chain to the front wheels are clearly not caused by poor drawing skills.

Re: this exercise highlights a great amount of ignorance around bicycles. I purpose society would benefit from better bicycle education.

You don't have to understand or remember technical details to ride a bike: you just hop on and go (once you learn to ride). It's not like you have to rebuild one every time you hop on: they pretty much stay as they are. Let's not invent problems that are not real problems.

Sure, it's good to know how to lubricate, maintain, and inspect a bicycle, but even such an education won't necessarily make one remember the physical location of all the parts from raw memory.

I suppose in an extreme case the bar between the peddles and the back tire could just fall off, and a typical rider wouldn't notice it's missing until something bad happens. But this is probably a one in a million event such that it's not worth hours of education to prevent. It's like meteor insurance. People tend to skip inspections out of laziness anyhow, even if trained.


> I suppose in an extreme case the bar between the peddles and the back tire could just fall off, and a typical rider wouldn't notice it's missing until something bad happens.

Even that is quite rare; that bar is an integral (usually welded) part of the frame. More common failure modes for frames are cracks (the tube comes loose in one point, usually close to a weld, and starts flopping around) or bottom bracket failure (pedal getting stuck or breaking loose).

The more important skill for dealing with those is not memorizing the geometric structure of the frame, but knowing how to recognize early signs of wear (creaking in the frame, visible spreading hairline cracks, clicking when turning the pedals, etc.) Sidenote: This is a big drawback of carbon fiber composite bicycle parts - they're stronger per weight than metal, but they don't give a lot of warning before failing and said failures are usually more catastrophic (shattering rather than bending - see [1] for a video, and [2] for a more general discussion of the market for lemons that this creates).

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxfJ-upYUXQ - note that this is a cheap part, so snapped under relatively low amounts of wear and force, but it was harder for the rider to realize this through inspection and riding before catastrophic failure

[2] https://www.outsideonline.com/2311816/carbon-fiber-bike-acci...


It would be interesting to see a statistical breakdown of the causes typical bicycle failures, including the results (injury, death, etc.)

Ask people to draw the powertrain or running gear of a car and you'd get much the same result.

Is that a good comparison? How often does the average person actually see either of those things? The reason it's surprising that people struggle to draw bikes from memory is that most of us see them all the time.

The brain doesn't work like a photo camera. It remembers strictly the minimum required to do it's job, in a highly abstract and compressed form.

How a bike fits together it's kind of irrelevant for most people, even if you ride one or if you must dodge one.


Which is effectively the point of the article.

How about drawing faces of famous people then? Presumably those results would be even worse. With these bicycle drawings, even the most inaccurate ones are pretty easy to recognize as bicycles. But I don’t think you’d get very many recognizable pictures of famous faces, except for a few subjects with famously recognizable features (like hairdo or facial hair).

I think that has more to do with being able to draw. As I argued in another comment here, I think sketching a bike has nothing to do with drawing skills. But sketching a face is not enough: the level of detail that goes into a face is much more sophisticated than a bike. On a bike you connect the lines right and you're good, but in a face... there is no logical, mechanical structure to it that you can easily replicate. The proportions all have to be right, the way skin falls... I think that's different.

I don’t know if I agree with the distinction. Both require you to simplify the actual appearance down to something that will be recognizable. For a bicycle, that’s just a few circles and lines, but skilled artists can draw recognizable faces with the same simple elements.

If you're ten percent off with each bike line, it looks almost perfect. If you're ten percent off with each line while trying to draw a specific person, it won't even resemble them.

A caricature is one thing, and might be doable by an average person, but knowing how to do a caricature is a skill all by itself. A portrait is extremely art skill intensive.


I agree with that, but that’s just the difference between drawing a specific person versus drawing any bicycle. I suspect if you wanted to draw a bicycle that was recognizable as a specific type or brand of bicycle, small differences would be important.

That would probably be worse. At least the weird contraptions they drew are (even if only vaguely) recognisable as a bicycle.

This also raises the question of what you'd get if you asked drivers to draw what they see when they're sitting in the driver's seat.


I read this as satire commenting on the misguided educational policies that governments tend to adopt.

The other commenters, however, have responded to it in earnest.

I am curious as to the original intent?


I had a mandatory subject on traffic in primary school in Holland, and it was largely about cycling.

Reminds of of Character Amnesia[1] phenomenon, where people can forget how to write Chinese/Japanese characters, even though they know how to read them.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_amnesia


I know how to read Mississippi

I know how to read miscellaneous. (Thanks autocomplete.)

It would be interesting to split the respondents into two groups, one who rides bikes regularly and one who doesn't, and compare the results.

The "2WD" ones are particularly perplexing.

On the other hand, I bet if you asked people to draw a car, 99% of them would draw something realistic --- it's the arrangement of the frame tubes on a bike that most people just haven't looked at in detail or remembered.


Pro cyclists asked to draw a bike in 15 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hXwbgio5cU

Wonder how their mechanics would have done.

I think the only reason I could draw a bike with any accuracy is because my dad taught me how to fix it. Otherwise it would be a complete black box.


Results visible at 0:55, 1:16, 1:52, 2:15 (correct), 2:41 (badly visible), 3:04 (proportions wrong in a way that doesn't work anymore, but somewhat correct), 3:29, 3:59, 4:21 (correct), and 5:03 (mostly correct, might have been correct if he had taken the time to properly connect the line to the point instead of slightly next to it).

This is exactly what was done in the paper[0] the drawings came from. And, actually, it was the chain of the bike, not the frame, that had most errors. The results are also broken down by gender, and are interesting. For male non-cyclists the error rate was about half that of female non-cyclists. For cyclists, the males had almost zero errors but female error rates were pretty much unchanged (the chain position errors dropped, but were still higher than male non-cyclists).

This (probably?) says a lot about the way men and women think...

0. https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/~rlawson/cycleweb.html


I'll bet many of said cars will end up not really having the right proportions for the internals or correct door placement. It will be recognizable as a car, sure.

Getting into the weeds a bit we see this more obviously with drawings of tanks, ships and planes that aren't drawn with a reference to a real one - guns too big to fit inside the turret, the turrets themselves being way too big, no consideration for where the engine must be etc.


I don't know if he redid this independently or failed to give credit, but here is an article [1] describing some similar experiments done by Rebecca Lawson. And a formal academic paper from 2006 [2].

[1] https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/~rlawson/cycleweb.html

[2] https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/BF03195929


I'm looking at the third one down and wondering: why aren't all-wheel-drive bikes a thing? (Well, steering...)

I guess there is such a thing: http://christinibicycles.com/ – sounds pretty complicated: 'A handlebar-mounted switch controls the AWD “shift on the fly” clutch. When the clutch is engaged, the rear spiral gear interlocks with the rear hub and power is transferred via internal shafts to the forward spiral gear set, which drives the CHRISTINI freehub. Due to a slight gearing differential, the front wheel is not actively powered on smooth level ground. However, the moment the rear wheel slips, power is instantaneously transferred to the front wheel. Similarly, the moment that the front wheel decelerates, as in hitting a rock or starting to wash out in a corner, power and traction are transferred to the front wheel.'

Makes me wonder if you could make an electric-assist bike where the assist was on the front wheel, thus saving all the complicated mechanical power transfer. I also suspect driving the front wheel feels crazy on a bike and I just don't realize it.


My electrib bike is AWD. Electric in the front and mechanical in the back. Very good for recovery on a patch of ice, impossible with just back wheel drive.

What does it feel like when you aren't peddling and it's just front-wheel drive?

It doesn’t drive if no peddling, legal stuff here in sweden.

Crucially a front wheel losing traction isn't recoverable. So it has rained, you ride over a bunch of leaves and that is the moment the electric motor decides to apply power, you're going down immediately.

And why in the first place, there is no benefit.


Well, that depends. It's easy to lock your front wheel for a split-second on gravel without falling---you just need to keep your balance while the wheel is locked. If there's a certain amount of kinetic friction front wheel drive could even make it possible to recover after balance is lost.

AWD (electric front drive + pedaling) is actually quite common among hobbyists in areas that often have snow (say, Scandinavia). It's as useful as it is for cars.


Locking your front wheel is usually 1) very difficult 2) non-recoverable unless you're good on a bike. If you lock you're front wheel going any speed over walking pace you'll probably go down. If you lock it up in the wet you're almost guaranteed to go down fast.

If you're riding uphill rear wheel drive on a bike is great because that's where you're weight is. The front wheel doens't have much. Put power into the front wheel and it might spin.

Put power through the front wheel while going downhill...well there was not need to because you don't need to have a power boost because you're going downhill.

I'm unconvinced except maybe deep snow with big fatty tires.


> Makes me wonder if you could make an electric-assist bike where the assist was on the front wheel, thus saving all the complicated mechanical power transfer.

This exists, it's called the GeoOrbital Wheel. It converts your bike to electric just by swapping out the front wheel. Pedaling is optional, so it's actually more than just an assist, it can operate in a fully electric mode. http://www.geoo.com

I own one and I'm very pleased with it.

There are also a bunch of front wheel e-bike conversion kits on Amazon, last I looked.


I can only imagine how much of a nightmare working on one of those bikes would be. Plus the efficiency losses and extra weight, I don't think AWD bikes will ever be common.

I think this is a great example that shows how our brains remember/recognize things. (Which may be help in machine learning)

This is how people have remembered a bike.

2 wheels, spaced apart Metal connecting Pedal in the middle Seat on top Handlebars connected to the front wheel.

The details of how it's connected, where, spacing, etc. Isn't really noted by our brains unless they see/use them often.

I wonder if this exercise could help use fine tune ML patterns.


I agree, but I also wonder how much motivation is a factor.

What would happen if the author said after the first drawing: "this bicycle is terrible and this bike would never work. Take this seriously, think about the mechanics of it, and I will pay you 1000 dollars if you get it correct"

As in, these pictures are just raw memory dumps, with minimal cognitive filtering. When stakes are higher, cognition should kick in and fix lower level errors.


I think it's funny how many comments give great importance to the object being a bicycle or the person being a bike rider to explain the output.

Agreed. It can really be anything. People don't look at things, they scan and store/recognize optimized patterns.

> I think this is a great example that shows how our brains remember/recognize things.

It may also have much to do with 'who' was asked. As an Engineer, I immediately noticed the missing frame member on the first rendering image at the very top of the web page. But, most people one would meet 'on the street' are not Engineers, and they very likely do not even look at a bike with a 'how does this work' eye. And if one does not even try to 'analyze' the bike mechanism, even a little, one surely will never remember the constituent parts.


Wouldn't surprise me but this is already being done by Google Captchas, signposts, and cars.

I wonder why such a high percentage of females attached the chain the the front wheel in their drawings

edit: a better way to phrase it would probably be: Of the drawings where the chain was attached to the front wheel, I wonder why such a large majority were done by females


I was surprised at the number of drawings that connected the front & rear wheels directly. I'm sure those would be fun to ride...

Also the number of bikes that were just structurally unsound, such as just the seat-stay attached to the rear wheel. Quite likely first bump you hit, things would not end well (if it even took that long). I'm not a mechanical engineer, but I did take a single class on statics in college, and that's enough for me to see that things would not end well (at least with current materials I'm aware of).


Agreed, some of the frames were surprising and quite funny. I've never ridden a bike professionally, or even as a serious hobby, but I would've guessed that way more people would at least get the general frame shape of a rhombus with 2 connected corners and the fork coming down from the front edge.

real bikes exist with just a seat stay, and with just a chain stay, and they work fine.

of course the stays are beefed up in these cases.


I was wondering the same thing. It would be nice if he also asked for people's experience with riding bikes, and compared all three factors (gender, experience, chain attachment). I'm wondering if there is a relationship between experience with riding bikes and this non-standard design

Edit: And age. Did all of the front attachers cluster in a particular age range as well?


In Firefox I had to go to readability mode for it to see, but the idea and execution is great!

Reminds me of the company that creates dolls how you design them: https://www.childsown.com/


I thought it was interesting how many of the wrong designs were similar to the lead image, with one central triangle and all other elements sprouting from it. It's tantalizingly close to the "standard" design, yet still incorrect.

I wonder how many of those people would insist that their sketch is correct, even when confronted with the evidence of an actual bicycle for comparison...


This is like what happens when you ask the client what they want the website to look like.

If I sum up : a guy "pesters" (good way to make sure people do a bad job !) a lot of people to draw a bike, selects the 50 most flawed drawings, and HN commenters conclude "people are bad at drawing bikes"?

The experimental process is flawed on so many levels I'm amazed anyone is jumping to a conclusion besides "That's some funny looking bikes here!". Something the author reckons by refraining to conclude anything himself.


I like this. Even if they wouldn't work, some of the designs are really beautiful when translated into 3D models.

It also sort of reminds me a bit of a minor collection I've been making of children's book illustrations of kites, which started out of a morbid fascination with how, despite how very simple an object a basic diamond kite is, very few of them get all the details right.


I had to go look up pictures of actual bikes to confirm what (I think) is wrong with the lead picture.

I also wonder how I would have done in the blind.


After looking at all of those pictures, I did a Google image search for "bicycle", and now I think I'm experiencing the visual equivalent of semantic satiation. None of these images look correct...

For any still not seeing it: The chain stay from the bottom bracket is missing. The rear wheel should be held by a triangular arrangement of the frame, but the side of the triangle that runs parallel to the ground isn’t there

I didn't want to mention what I thought was wrong because I didn't want to accidentally influence anybody else, especially if I wound up wrong.

But yeah, after giving it a good, long look, along with his mention that it would break when someone sat on it, I guessed that there should have been a bar between the back wheel and where the pedals are.


I'm not sure it would break when you sat on it; the chain would be in tension, holding those two sections together and filling the task of that bar. The problem would be when you started to pedal, and that bar is not there to stop the chain from pulling the rear wheel towards the pedals.

That isn't the only thing wrong. If you brace the back wheel, the fore tube still has a single point of attachment, and the front wheel would tend to flex forward, encouraging the weld between the rising forward diagonal of the triangle and the fore tube to break.

It might not break right when someone sat on it, but after stresses accumulate from riding over bumps, the front portion is going to break off and pitch the rider forward into the pavement.


Finding that particular omission just feels like visual trickery, rather than anything to do with knowing how a bike works.

Like any number of puzzle books that include a "find the missing X!" and friends.


Yes, it took me a moment to identify the omission because the chain itself occupies nearly the same space

After googling bicycles, seems to me like the common shape is "diamond with a line dividing the two triangles (bicycle seat thingy) and a line coming off the top vertex (front wheel holder thingy), I'm gonna try to remember that and draw a bicycle later after the memory has faded.

The single joint between the down tube and the head tube is probably not mechanically very strong, either.

Plus the front forks are straight.

eg they have "Rake", but no offset, so the amount of "Trail" or "Castor" will be incorrect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_and_motorcycle_geometr...


It's called a fork, not forks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_fork


>> Some diversities are gender driven. Nearly 90% of drawings in which the chain is attached to the front wheel (or both to the front and the rear) were made by females.

It would be more interesting to know what percentage of drawings had the chain attached incorrectly, first- then how many of them were by female participants. If it was just a couple of drawings, there's not much "gender driven diversity" to speak of. Equally for the overcomplicated frames drawn by males, of course.

(Edit: I'm sorry to pick on such an irrelevant detail of this beautiful posting, but at this point anything that seems to allude to stereotypes about females not being comfortable with the function of complex mechanisms, grates; especially if it's using numbers to make a point).


I'm curious about more numbers, too, but even if it's 1 vs. 7 I think it's worth noting.

That's odd I noticed this on some vector art just two minutes before seeing this story.

https://www.cyclotricity.com/uk/custom/mix-match-your-own-co...


Not to mention the magic drive train.

Heh, when I was a kid I used to draw a lot, and I remember being bothered that I didn't know how to draw a bike, so back then I explicitly memorized the shapes (parallelogram in the back, and another line for the front wheels). Wonder if that's common for doodlers.

A parallelogram is missing the seat tube, which is a fairly important part of the bike.

I'd be interested to see this broken down by country. Do Dutch or Danish people draw more correct bicycles than Americans?

Another interesting thing would be to see if there's any reason why people draw bikes facing left or right. I feel like for me it's natural to draw vehicles facing right, so they'd drive in the direction that you read in. It seems that most of the drawings here are in the opposite direction. The cycle lane signs in New Zealand also face to the left [1].

[1] https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/traffic-control-devices-m...


To extend this a bit...

If you like watching any of the popular Gym Fail video channels on Youtube -- many people also have poor, or counter- intuitive notions of things like purpose built machines and the physical body mechanics/physics that marry up to them.

Recall is hard, but so is.. deciphering.


When I applied to art school, I had to draw a bicycle as part of the admission evaluation. My peers would post their admission submissions online whether or not they were eventually admitted. If you search “RISD bicycle drawings”, you’ll see tons of bicycle drawings. They range from insanely photorealistic to simply abstract.

Obviously, we all used reference material to make sure our depiction was accurate. But it is nonetheless interesting to see what people come up with when trying to impress an art school admissions team.


Some remind me of Pedersen's [1] which look ungainly and structurally unsound too.

[1] http://www.pedersenbicycles.com/


What happens when you ask people to make a mobile friendly website?

Most web design has been corrupted by mobile-friendly concepts. It's nice to finally see a site that isn't made crap by giant buttons, whitespace, and thin vertical scroll.

The site just didn’t work on Safari Mobile without a huge bloated menu.

Downvotes apparently!

> Little I knew this is actually a test that psychologists use to demonstrate how our brain sometimes tricks us into thinking we know something even though we don’t.

This seems like a leap, or at least an oversimplification of what the author is referring to in psychology. I’m convinced that my attempt to draw a bicycle would be quite terrible, but I’m also convinced that I would be able to look at my drawing and judge it as terrible.


Most people don't do this check though.

So what’s wrong with the bike?

missing a metal bar behind the chain

It's missing the part of the frame connecting the rear wheel's axel to the that of the pedals, often referred to as the "chain stay". Without this the seat stay (rear forks) would snap under the rider's weight.

These are somewhat amusing, but I'd have to say that if you asked a bike tech or anyone that spent any amount of time being their own bike mechanic, even with a very limited amount of artistic talent, there's virtually nothing to drawing a bike that would function adequately in the real world.

This made me smile. I'm actually somewhat skilled as an artist (just compared to the average person) but I can assure you I have never drawn a respectable image of a bicycle. I really liked taking these sketches and making them more realistic. Maybe there is some genius hidden in these seemingly inaccurate sketches?

I won't get the answer to that question, it seems, because their site doesn't work properly on mobile...

I have done a lot of biking and saw this article a while back. It makes me look closely at every depiction of a bike I see. We have some pillows with bikes on them. I look close and notice the chainring is MONSTER huge, like a 60T. Whoever rides the bike on those pillows is not to be messed with.

reminds me of this meme that gets featured on reddit r/programmerhumor fairly often

https://www.reddit.com/r/ProgrammerHumor/comments/5fyv4r/kir...


I find it strange that no one drew the bike projected on a plane other than the plane containing the wheels. No one drew the bike head-on or at an angle.

I speculate that the author created an expectation of a "quick, simple, sketch". Even an artist might prefer that plane, if they are expected to draw quickly.

S02E06 of Brain Games asks a university class to do this - then they build each of the drawn bikes and attempt to ride them.

I love this project! We got some prints of these for a family member who's a rabid cyclist and also one for our house.

All the while we're still looking down on GANs. AI has surpassed average human level in this domain.

I bet it would be hard going trough all of these and drawing a bike afterwards.

Funny, this is RISD's infamous application requirement.

These people went ahead and made the mistake bikes[0].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hXwbgio5cU


Similar: draw an ant, top-down view.

Where DO the legs go?


Is this really a common misunderstanding? I thought everybody knew that ants have three body sections, and the legs attached to the middle. We learned this in elementary school. Putting legs on the head or the back section would create so many unnecessary complications.

> Putting legs on the head or the back section would create so many unnecessary complications.

I mean, so would attaching a bicycle chain to the front wheel.

After all, why shouldn't an ant have one pair attached to its tail segment? 6 is a lot of legs to cram into the tiny middle segment.

I first partook in this exercise in a small group of STEM graduate students preparing for a youth teaching program. Maybe 2/3 of us got it wrong (myself included).


Thank you for this information.

I know because I did a presentation on ants in high school (or was it primary school, hmm), but I'm not sure how common knowledge that is. Unless you're a biologist it's also completely irrelevant to know -- and even then, I can imagine depending on your exact job, it might still be irrelevant.

I agree that the fact "legs attached to midsection" is irrelevant to most, but the implications that follow rely on principles of mechanics and biology for which I would still hope most people would have at least a basic intuitive understanding. This is an extreme example to illustrate the point: I don't know exactly how preindustrial people around the world built their homes, but whenever they used large leaves, I would expect them to orient them in the direction that best sheds water. We can make good guesses at specific facts based on principles. I would expect most people to get the ant legs correct. One might say that this bicycle sketch test proves otherwise, but there are far more unique components in the bike sketch.

when our programmer implemented exactly what PM required...LOL

I’ve never seen a less mobile-friendly layout. Fixed decorative elements on the page forcefully covering content.

He's a product designer, probably not so worried about people looking on their phones.

Agreed - Unreadable on iPhone 6

Safari's Reader Mode.

Funny. On my Samsung I just saw a non-mobile website and zoomed in.

So I guess...

Samsung > Iphone


This will get so many downvotes...

I resorted to outline.com for this one. Something I usually reserve for autoplay video sites and paywalls.



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