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Could You Ride This Backward Bicycle?

Even though it's a simple tweak to the handlebar, it messes with your mind. H/T Smarter Every Day

Posted on May 6, 2015, at 3:59 p.m. ET

This bike has only one thing that's different from regular bikes: The handlebar and wheel move opposite each other.

Smarter Every Day / Via

That means when you turn the handles left, the front wheel goes right instead of the usual left. A welder and friend of Smarter Every Day host Destin Sandlin built the special vehicle and called him up with a simple challenge: Could he ride this bike?

At first, Destin couldn't do it and grew flustered.

Smarter Every Day / Via

It doesn't mean he's uncoordinated: Our brains, he explained, have a very complex algorithm of forces that allow us to ride a bike.

Not only do we have to push the pedals, we lean our bodies in a way to maintain balance, push and pull on the bars — and work in tandem with the wheels' physics.

And if you change one thing, he said, the whole neural formula is thrown off.

As a frequent speaker, he's even brought the bike with him to see if any audience members could succeed.

Smarter Every Day / Via

The outcome was always the same: No one could do it.

Until one day, after eight months of practice, relentless teasing, and countless wrecks, he finally did it.

Smarter Every Day / Via

HIs son, on the other hand, learned it after a mere two weeks, exemplifying that children's brains are a bit more plastic — or able to change — than adults' well-worn pathways.

  1. Do you think you could master this bike?

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Do you think you could master this bike?
    vote votes
    Piece of cake!
    vote votes
    With some practice, yeah
    vote votes
    Probably not :(

Watch the fascinating experiment below.

View this video on YouTube