Energy and Thermal Physics
Power cycling up a hill
Practical Activity for 14-16
Measuring the power used in cycling uphill.
Apparatus and Materials
Health & Safety and Technical Notes
This must be done in a safe place, such as the school grounds.
Read our standard health & safety guidance
- Students time themselves cycling up a rise.
- Determine the vertical distance climbed from an appropriate map or using a handheld GPS device. Alternatively, estimate the height with a sighting pole, a plumb line, and a large cardboard protractor.
- Knowing their own weight and estimating that of their bicycle, students calculate the output of
- Useful power is calculated from:
Useful power= energy transferred/time taken = (total weight in newtons x height rise)/time taken
- The mass of a bicycle is very unlikely to be less than 5 kg nor more than 20 kg . 10 kg would be an acceptable estimate, particularly as the mass of the student is probably of the order of 70 kg.
- This experiment could be set as a class activity if a suitable site is available.
This experiment was safety-tested in January 2006