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  1. #1
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    A scientific question

    Does the insulating properties of my rubber tires and carbon fork outweigh the electricity conducting properties of the steel frame on my bicycle during a sudden thunderstorm with lots and lots of brilliant and highly impressive nearby lightning?
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Skipper's Avatar
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    A lightning bolt travels hundreds/thousands of feet through the air to reach the earth. I wouldn't count on a skinny little rubber tire to slow it down much.

  3. #3
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    When this lightning strikes, will your tires be wet?

  4. #4
    Hypoxic Member head_wind's Avatar
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    Lately some car and truck tires have been hardened with silicates but
    in the past they had lots of carbon, as in black, messy, conductive carbon.
    Toll booth operators hate the silicate tires because without the carbon
    grounding the tires they get more shocks. I suppose you'll ask next
    about bike tires!!

    I don't know anything about the electrical properties of carbon fiber either.

  5. #5
    Fossil Lurch's Avatar
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    No.
    Pray toward Heaven but row toward shore.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skipper View Post
    A lightning bolt travels hundreds/thousands of feet through the air to reach the earth. I wouldn't count on a skinny little rubber tire to slow it down much.
    VERY TRUE .The lightening just doesn't "care", It'll jump. Many individuals who are struck and live are actually "struck" by PART of the bolt's electricity spreading after the direct hit. Your chances of getting a direct hit are very slim anyway.Tires,carbon .. none of that matters.As far as the indirect hit, nothing you can do about that either. Down here in NC, knowing farmers, not at all unusual to encounter someone who's been struckto one degree or another. It can travel through a phone receiver. Golfers and farmers are at greatest risk. Out in the open,it matters less how high an object is. Seek cover if you want to be protected. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area,you've virtually NO chance of getting hit. Tire and fork selection are not key.

  7. #7
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    If you are out riding and a thunderstorm rolls in on you, then you should get off of your bike and hold it up in the air to ward off the lightning.

  8. #8
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    But shouting defiance at the sky will help keep it away.

    (So somebody please remove this post because I can't stop myself from adding this joke:
    What's the difference between a rooster and a lawyer?
    A: The rooster clucks defiance.)
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  9. #9
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman View Post
    Does the insulating properties of my rubber tires and carbon fork outweigh the electricity conducting properties of the steel frame on my bicycle during a sudden thunderstorm with lots and lots of brilliant and highly impressive nearby lightning?
    If you get hit by lightning, it is a sign you are already a low-impedance path to earth, and hence some pointy aspect of your head was more pointy, and most especially taller, than anything else in the locale!

    So if you get hit the lightning will conduct through your body to the frame, arc across the bearing interfaces and cross the tires. Now tire are rubber, but heavily filled with lampblack. This makes them conductive, but to around a millionth the degree of conductivity as the steel frame, or your wet body. The lightning energy will probably force an arc across the tires, melting them.

    But this is all extremely unlikely, because you would need to be far from anything taller than you: a tree, a building, a utility pole.

    FWIW, as an electical engineer who has studied grounding and lightining protection systems, I agree your tires shouldn't insulate you significantly.

    Road Fan

  10. #10
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    If you get hit by lightning, it is a sign you are already a low-impedance path to earth, and hence some pointy aspect of your head was more pointy, and most especially taller, than anything else in the locale!

    So if you get hit the lightning will conduct through your body to the frame, arc across the bearing interfaces and cross the tires. Now tire are rubber, but heavily filled with lampblack. This makes them conductive, but to around a millionth the degree of conductivity as the steel frame, or your wet body. The lightning energy will probably force an arc across the tires, melting them.

    But this is all extremely unlikely, because you would need to be far from anything taller than you: a tree, a building, a utility pole.

    FWIW, as an electical engineer who has studied grounding and lightining protection systems, I agree your tires shouldn't insulate you significantly.

    Road Fan
    Talking about lightning bolts, how about those Mountaineers!! Sorry-just couldn't resist!

    And as a fellow EE I'd agree that if lightning is that close it's going to go to ground.......and go through the tires if necessary.

  11. #11
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    I do worry about this subject because I do take chances with riding in borderline weather. If I were not, I would not be biking most of the time in this area.
    I do not know what is correct. I was told that the ground provides conduit for the lightening to connect to. That means that anything what looks like ground is to be avoided such as water lines on Golf courses and Golf Clubs and a bike wet on wet ground.
    I am not sure about any of this so please educate me.
    The fact is that I often bike in T. Storms.

  12. #12
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    OMG, let yet another EE weigh in...lighting will strike the highest object in its path. We know from lightning protection theory that there is a cone of protection that extends from higher objects (assumes lower resistance) to lower ones. However, this does not mean that the lightning cannot jump from one object to anther that offers a lower path of resistance.

    Golf courses offer the most opportunity to be struct by lightning due to the open areas and trees offer points of collection and humans under tress offering a possible alternative path to ground.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  13. #13
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    The positive approach would be to concentrate on lightening the bike, not lightning the bike.

  14. #14
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Cars offer some protection because they route the electricity around you. It creates what is known as a "Faraday Cage". If you could climb inside of your bike frame, it would offer the same protection.

    The tires offer no protection. Think of it. In the rain, the tires are wet. The electricity goes straight down them.

  15. #15
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Actually, the first thing the lightning will do is overheat the air in your tires causing them to go flat. About 3 miliseconds later when the rims touch the pavement you will fry.

  16. #16
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    You wanna see Bolts, come see the Chargers, baby.
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  17. #17
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    No, go find the nearest tree.

    ...okay, I'm not blonde, but which is safer in a lightning storm: Fetal position under a tree or fetal position on open ground?

    Because we get fewer than 10 thunderstorms per year in this part of California (wrong thread, sorry) and I've completely forgotten how we dealt with them in parts of the country prone to thunderstorms (which we are not, here in glorious California).
    When my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, *****, she's awake!"

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  18. #18
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
    No, go find the nearest tree.

    ...okay, I'm not blonde, but which is safer in a lightning storm: Fetal position under a tree or fetal position on open ground?

    Because we get fewer than 10 thunderstorms per year in this part of California (wrong thread, sorry) and I've completely forgotten how we dealt with them in parts of the country prone to thunderstorms (which we are not, here in glorious California).
    When I was a kid back in Ohio, a buddy and I camped out under a big BIG old dead tree. Something made us move our tent that night, which was a good thing. Sometime during the night there was a violent thunderstorm and lightning to beat the band. We discovered why you're not supposed to touch the inside of a canvas tent during a rainstorm, btw...

    Anyway, next morning we went back by that big old tree. A branch as large as most trees had snapped off, the result of lightning. Landed right over where our tent was. We'd a been dead had we stayed there. So...I opt for fetal position on open ground. YMMV
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  19. #19
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne View Post
    I do not know what is correct. I was told that the ground provides conduit for the lightening to connect to. That means that anything what looks like ground is to be avoided such as water lines on Golf courses and Golf Clubs and a bike wet on wet ground.
    I am not sure about any of this so please educate me.
    The fact is that I often bike in T. Storms.
    Short list:
    http://weathereye.kgan.com/cadet/lig...ety_rules.html
    http://www.health.state.ny.us/enviro...her/lightning/

    Long List:
    http://usscouts.org/usscouts/safety/safe-lightning.asp
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  20. #20
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne View Post
    The fact is that I often bike in T. Storms.
    I live in the lightening capital of the US. Please do not ride your bike when you can hear thunder even if the sky is clear. We get people killed almost weekly down here from lightening. Roofers, landscapers and a couple of months ago a diver who surfaced off shore. Lightening can hit from quite far away even when the sky is blue above you so riding in an active thunder storm is risky. We have lightening detection systems at most of the schools and golf courses, when I hear the sirens go off I head for home.

    http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.p...y=Local%20News
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  21. #21
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonecrd View Post
    I live in the lightening capital of the US. Please do not ride your bike when you can hear thunder even if the sky is clear. We get people killed almost weekly down here from lightening. Roofers, landscapers and a couple of months ago a diver who surfaced off shore. Lightening can hit from quite far away even when the sky is blue above you so riding in an active thunder storm is risky. We have lightening detection systems at most of the schools and gold courses, when I hear the sirens go off I head for home.

    For more info

    http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.p...y=Local%20News
    I have to disagree. There were over 40,000 folks killed by cars just last year in the US of A. Using your line of reasoning, one should never drive (nor ride a bike). Average lightning deaths per year for the entire US of A is 44 deaths.

    Lightning deaths receive TREMENDOUS publicity. Automobile deaths (and bicycle deaths) receive a little side article, if anything.

    Florida is 1st, Colorado is 2nd.

    Lightning Deaths by State, ranking. 1997-2006

    State Deaths Rank of
    1997-2006 Deaths
    Alabama 16 6
    Alaska 0 47
    Arizona 9 17
    Arkansas 11 12
    California 7 22
    Colorado 30 2
    Connecticut 2 38
    Delaware 0 48
    D.C. 0 49
    Florida 71 1
    Georgia 21 4
    Hawaii 0 50
    Idaho 2 37
    Illinois 11 13
    Indiana 6 26
    Iowa 3 31
    Kansas 2 38
    Kentucky 7 23
    Louisiana 16 7
    Maine 2 39
    Maryland 6 27
    Massachusetts 2 40
    Michigan 10 16
    Minnesota 2 41
    Mississippi 11 14
    Missouri 7 24
    Montana 5 29
    Nebraska 4 30
    Nevada 1 44
    New Hampshire 0 51
    State Deaths Rank of
    1997-2006 Deaths
    New Jersey 9 18
    New Mexico 3 32
    New York 7 25
    North Carolina 19 5
    North Dakota 1 45
    Ohio 13 8
    Oklahoma 8 20
    Oregon 1 46
    Pennsylvania 12 10
    Puerto Rico 3 32
    Rhode Island 3 34
    South Carolina 13 9
    South Dakota 3 35
    Tennessee 12 11
    Texas 25 3
    Utah 11 15
    Vermont 2 42
    Virginia 9 19
    Washington 0 52
    West Virginia 2 43
    Wisconsin 8 21
    Wyoming 6 28

    TOTAL 1997-2006
    United States 437


    Annual MV Deaths, USA, last 10 years (through 2005):

    42,065
    42,013
    41,501
    41,717
    41,945
    42,196
    43,005
    42,884
    42,836
    43,443
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 09-11-07 at 06:31 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
    You wanna see Bolts, come see the Chargers, baby.
    Why settle for an imitation. We have the real thing here.....the local high school - Northmont T-Bolts
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  23. #23
    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
    You wanna see Bolts, come see the Chargers, baby.
    Let's talk after sunday night, GO PATS
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    Actually, the first thing the lightning will do is overheat the air in your tires causing them to go flat. About 3 miliseconds later when the rims touch the pavement you will fry.
    I was afraid that might be the deal.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  25. #25
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
    No, go find the nearest tree.

    ...okay, I'm not blonde, but which is safer in a lightning storm: Fetal position under a tree or fetal position on open ground?

    Because we get fewer than 10 thunderstorms per year in this part of California (wrong thread, sorry) and I've completely forgotten how we dealt with them in parts of the country prone to thunderstorms (which we are not, here in glorious California).
    Old article but nothing has changed.

    http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/head...d18jun99_1.htm

    Isolated trees, telephone booths, and open structures like gazebos or porches make poor lightning shelters. If there is a tall object nearby, move as far away as possible - at least 2 meters (7 ft). Standing next to tall isolated objects like poles or towers makes you vulnerable to secondary discharges coming off those objects.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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