Bifurcation and Marginal Gains

What do aircraft wings, the Tacoma Narrows bridge and Coronavirus modeling all have in common? As you may have guessed from the title, it's bifurcation — just about the least intuitive (or predictable) behavior known to humankind. In this episode, we talk about bifurcation and its relation to all of these — as well as how understanding bifurcation can affect real-world racing...and how the same effect that can tear the wings off a plane can also make for the terrifying speed wobble you may have experienced on a fast descent on your bike.

Got a question you’d like to ask? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!

Subscribe using your favorite podcast platform (but be sure to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts).


  • Kawusia

    Just a fast hello and also to thank you for discussing your ideas on this web page. I wound up inside your weblog right after researching physical fitness connected issues on Yahoo guess I lost track of what I had been performing! Anyway I’ll be back once once more inside the future to examine out your blogposts down the road. Thanks!

  • Andrew

    Thanks for the always interesting content. We moved from Australia to Chicago 4 years ago and have caught cyclocross fever as Chicago Cross Cup is an enormous series each Fall/Winter.

    Given it is (usually) Cross Season at present, i was curious to know what are the marginal gains for CX as it is sort of like MTB but races are shorter and with lots of accelerations.

    I assume drive train makes a difference due to mud and am now waxing chains with crock pot submersion.

    But what about wheels – weight vs aero vs width.

    And tires? Pros still us tubulars due to ability to run super low pressure but is it really an advantage these days with such great CX/Gravel technology? and is the lowest practical pressure really the best for grip vs rolling resistance? The limitiations on all for this is frame clearance plus UCI measured width limit for tires is 33mm although Masters and non-pros can run 38mm (in USA). Finally, what effect does tread depth have on all of this?

    Thanks for reading this far and i’m sure “offroad on drop bar bikes” is an episode in itself


  • Bill

    One thing that you didn’t cover in this episode was what to do if your bike does have the tendency to speed wobble. I recently bought a new bike and it reliably wobbles for me. When I ride the downhill part of the Brooklyn Bridge, which has a unique wooden slat surface (you can see it here:, the bike will basically always go into a wobble. It hasn’t yet happened anywhere else but of course I’m a bit nervous that it might happen in a scarier spot.

    I’ve seen people mention that you can change out the wheels or make other similarly major changes, but I’m curious if there are any simpler tricks that I might be able to test out.

  • Anders

    Really love the podcast. Hearing you’re doing an episode about chains, I have an observation and a question as a follow up. I mostly cycle on gravel roads here i Norway, and have been running 1×11 drivetrains for 3-4 years. This year, however, I bought a new bike (3T) with a Sram Force/Eagle AXS 1×12 drivetrain. I’m mostly happy with it and the larger range (I’ve ridden 6000+kms with it this year), but one area where it is annoying, is when I ride in wet conditions on gravel and dirt. I usually start with a clean chain and use the NFS chainlube, but after a while the drivetrain gets noisy, as if the increased friction makes noise. This might happen on a 1×11 drivtrain as well, but seems to start way earlier on the 1×12. My question is: Is this due to that the 1×12 system has smaller system tolerances? Has is something to do with the 1×12 chain? Is there a lube/wax which is best to use if the tolerances are much tighter? Or is there something else going on?

  • Ian Tubbs

    Surprised no one has asked about this yet (maybe they have elsewhere or with a phone call), but given your relating it to wobble in moto GP bikes, would you care to relate it to Chloe Dygert’s recent crash in the World Championship TT. At least what I saw that caused it was a momentary loss of, and subsequent regain of traction by her front wheel.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.