Hey it’s me Destin. Welcome back to Smarter Every Day. You’ve heard people say, “It’s just like riding a bike” meaning it’s really easy and you can’t forget how to do it, right? But I did something. I did something that damaged my mind. It happened on the streets of Amsterdam and I got really scared honestly. I can’t ride a bike like you can anymore. Before I show you the video of what happened I need to tell you the back story. Like many six year olds with a MacGyver mullet I learned how to ride a bike when I was really young. I had learned a life skill and I was really proud of it. Everything changed though when my friend Barney called me 25 years later. Where I work, the welders are geniuses, and they like to play jokes on the engineers. He had a challenge for me. He had built a special bicycle and he wanted me to try to ride it. He had only changed one thing. When you turn the handlebar to the left, the wheel goes to the right. When you turn it to the right, the wheel goes to the left. I thought this would be easy so I hopped on the bike ready to demonstrate how quickly I could conquer this. – And here he is ladies and gentlemen, Mr Destin Sandlin. First attempt riding the bicycle. – Yeah, yeah. I couldn’t do it. You can see that I’m laughing but I’m actually really frustrated. In this moment I had a really deep revelation. My thinking was in a rut. This bike revealed a very deep truth to me. I had the knowledge of how to operate the bike, but I did not have the understanding. Therefore, knowledge is not understanding. Look I know what you’re probably thinking. Destin’s probably just an uncoordinated engineer and can’t do it. But that’s not the case at all. The algorithm that’s associated with riding a bike, in your brain, is just that complicated. Think about it. Downwards force on the pedals, leaning your whole body, pulling and pushing the handlebars, gyroscopic procession in the wheels, every single force is part of this algorithm. And if you change any one part it affects the entire control system. I do not make definitive statements that often, but I’m telling you right now, you cannot ride this bicycle. You might think you can, but you can’t. I know this because I’m often asked to speak at universities and conferences and I take the bike with me. It’s always the same. People think they’re gonna try some trick or they’re just gonna power through it. It doesn’t work. Your brain cannot handle this. For instance, this guy. I offered him two hundred dollars just to ride this bike ten feet across the stage. Everybody thought he could do it. [crowd exclaims] No no no. You didn’t understand. So.. this way, not that way. [crowd laughs] Alright so, whenever you’re ready. Remember you have to keep your feet on.. [crowd laughs] [laughing crowd] You’ve gotta start rolling at least. And go. Keep your feet on the pedal, go. [laughing crowd] Just keep your feet on the pedals. Alright, one more time. Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you cannot change that, even if you want to. So here’s what I did. It was a personal challenge. I stayed out here in this driveway and I practiced about 5 minutes every day. My neighbors made fun of me. I had many wrecks. But after 8 months, this happened. One day I couldn’t ride the bike, and the next day I could. It was like I could feel some kind of pathway in my brain that was now unlocked. It was really weird though. It’s like there’s this trail in my brain, but if I wasn’t paying close enough attention to it, my brain would easily lose that neural path and jump back onto the old road it was more familiar with. Any small distractions at all, like a cellphone ringing in my pocket, would instantly throw my brain back to the old control algorithm and I would wreck. But at least I could ride it. My son is the closest person to me genetically and he’s been riding a normal bike for 3 years, that’s over half his life. I wanted to know how long it would take him to learn how to ride a backwards bike so I told him if he learned how to ride a backwards bike he could go with me to Australia and meet a real astronaut. Are you gonna give up? – No. – Go ahead. This is how it starts. Look at this. This is such a big deal. Get up, you got it. Did you see his brain get it? So he, in.. How many weeks we been doing this? Two weeks? In two weeks he did something that took me 8 months to do, which demonstrates that a child has more neural plasticity, am I even saying that right? Than an adult. It’s clear from this experiment that children have a much more plastic brain than adults. That’s why the best time to learn a language is when you’re a young child. Alright, today’s bike log. I can ride smooth, I can ride fast. I’m thinking the experiment is over. OK now I’m in Amsterdam, a city that has more bicycles than people. The question is, can I ride a normal bike now. I mean I have spent all this time unlearning how to ride a bike, If I go back and try to ride a normal one will my brain mess up. So I’ve tweeted a Smarter Every Day.. meetup, if you will. And I’m gonna see if somebody brings a bicycle and I’m gonna try to ride a normal bike. It’s backwards, it’s backwards. This was one of the most frustrating moments of my life. I had ridden a normal bike since I was six, but in this moment I couldn’t do it any more. I had set out to prove that I could free my brain from a cognitive bias, but at this point I’m pretty sure that all I’ve proved is that I can only re-designate that bias. So what you’re not seeing is there’s a group of people here, looking at me. Looking at the strange American, that can’t ride a bike, cause they think I’m dumb. But I’m actually two levels deep into this, because I’ve learned and un-learned. Alright. After 20 minutes of making a fool out of myself, suddenly my brain clicked back into the old algorithm. I can’t explain it, but it happened in a very specific moment. [laughter] I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. I’m back. Oh it clicked. It clicked. I’ve got it, I’ve got it. OK there it is. There was the moment. OK I can ride a bike. I tried to explain this to the people around me, and they just didn’t get it. They thought I was faking the previous 20 minutes and I couldn’t get anybody to believe me. That looked like I faked it, didn’t it. You think I’m faking. You don’t believe me. – It looked so weird… – You think I’m lying don’t you. I’m not lying. I felt like the only person on the planet who had ever un-learned how to ride a bike, and I couldn’t articulate it to anyone because everybody just knew that you can’t forget how to ride a bike. So I learned 3 things from this experiment. I learned that welders are often smarter than engineers, I learned that knowledge does not equal understanding, and I learned that truth is truth. No matter what I think about it. So be very careful how you interpret things because you’re looking at the world with a bias whether you think you are or not. I’m Destin, you’re getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one. OK if you wanna support Smarter Every Day you can download a free audio book at audible.com/smarter I recommend Commander Hadfield’s book which is An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I read it, it was awesome. If you think about it, I had to learn how to ride a different kind of bicycle and my son did it as well, but Commander Hadfield had to learn how to ride a different space ship. Not only that, but a different type of space station. He was on Mir and the International Space Station. Anyway, if you’re interested in supporting Smarter Every Day, audible.com/smarter, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I’m Destin, you’re getting Smarter Every Day. Have a good one. [crowd cheers] Everything is wrong… My instinctive reaction is wrong. (Destin) Why don’t you ride it? You just build it? – I can’t ride it, I just build it. [laughs]

The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day 133
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100 thoughts on “The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day 133

  • August 12, 2019 at 3:36 pm
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    Best YouTube channel I came across

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  • August 12, 2019 at 4:21 pm
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    Just Flintstone it.

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  • August 12, 2019 at 5:32 pm
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    It's not hard to ride because it steers the opposite direction, it's hard because it's extremely hard to balance the loose/wabbling/ non geometric/non centered streering.

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  • August 12, 2019 at 6:48 pm
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    Proverbs 4:20-27 New International Version (NIV)

    20 My son, pay attention to what I say;

    turn your ear to my words.

    21 Do not let them out of your sight,

    keep them within your heart;

    22 for they are life to those who find them

    and health to one’s whole body.

    23 Above all else, guard your heart,

    for everything you do flows from it.

    24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;

    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

    25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;

    fix your gaze directly before you.

    26 Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet

    and be steadfast in all your ways.

    27 Do not turn to the right or the left;

    keep your foot from evil.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 11:01 pm
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    This brought a smile on my face

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  • August 13, 2019 at 2:39 am
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    But they’re asking non riders.

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  • August 13, 2019 at 3:31 am
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    I imagine motorbike riders would find this easy, with countersteering and all

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  • August 13, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    You deserve a true like from me

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  • August 13, 2019 at 6:23 am
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    tf happened at 1:46 😂😂

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  • August 13, 2019 at 8:30 am
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    I can’t even ride a normal bike LOL

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  • August 13, 2019 at 11:12 am
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    Isnt he the guy from trailer park boys

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  • August 13, 2019 at 12:15 pm
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    This was an awesome video documentary truly inspiring in mind opening. It really pulls back the veil on our cognitive thinking

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  • August 13, 2019 at 3:08 pm
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    How about a bike that reverses the pedaling direction?

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  • August 13, 2019 at 3:52 pm
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    This one is the best one I saw. Well done!!! You inspired me. Thnx

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  • August 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    What do you mean your brain cant handle this i did this first try that was to eazy like get some IQ sit

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  • August 13, 2019 at 4:09 pm
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    I learned that in like 10 + mins LOL

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  • August 13, 2019 at 9:41 pm
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    This video is better that many movies

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  • August 14, 2019 at 12:00 am
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    Why the first time you failed is because when you turn and it’s reversed it would transfer all the weight to the outside of the side you turning to.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 12:18 am
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    You could make something deadly like this if you had reverse steering, AND reverse pedalling, so you pedal backwards to go forwards.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 1:59 am
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    Now make it pedal backwards while the steering is backwards

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  • August 14, 2019 at 11:36 am
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    Imagine learning to ride this bike then bikes the regular bike…oh, it's in the video

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  • August 14, 2019 at 11:55 pm
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    What type of bike was that that you use to have?

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  • August 15, 2019 at 2:04 am
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    Loved your video, everything about it

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  • August 15, 2019 at 2:28 am
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    how about making it stiffer..

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  • August 15, 2019 at 3:29 am
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    If you started with a child who had never ridden a bike and taught them on this bike, the child would learn it as easily as a regular bike, but wow that would be cruel

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  • August 15, 2019 at 3:53 am
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    Amazing video.

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  • August 15, 2019 at 7:17 am
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    Friends dont let friends play inverted.

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  • August 15, 2019 at 3:19 pm
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    What about a bike with opposite direction and also opposite direction on the pedals?
    I am going to build one:))))

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  • August 15, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    i have actually tried one on a dare from a friend.

    at a carneval where i live did a guy have one of these bikes to try, but there was a catch. you payed 20 swedish kronor or about $2 to get 5 tries, you had to be able to ride the bike for 10 meters and if you managed to do it did you win 500 swedish kronor or about $50. my friends dared me to try it and in the dare did they give me money, so if i failed would i look like a fool in front of all my friends but earn almost 1000 swedish kronor or about $100 and if i nailed it would i have earnt $150 and look like a hero in front of everyone.

    first try was a disaster, just like everybody else, second try was almost as bad. then i took just one hand and put it on the other handle bar and gave it a try, it kinda worked and on the 4th try did i actually manage to do it but i fell after 11 meters so it wasn't much to it.

    i made $150 and the guy having this bike did change his rules to both hands on the handlebars. but i wouldn't be able to ride it without my little cheat and i have no idea if i would be able to do it now, almost 10 years after i tried the last time.

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  • August 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm
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    1:46 Wasted

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  • August 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm
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    just love u r channel n way u explain

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  • August 15, 2019 at 8:43 pm
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    Serious question (that you might not actually ever see 😊)…but when you did this experiment and retrained your brain on the backwards bike…did this impact any other “steering” activities in your day to day? (Driving a car, backing a trailer, riding a motorcycle, etc)

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  • August 15, 2019 at 10:03 pm
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    Its dangerous and pointless video

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  • August 15, 2019 at 11:49 pm
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    Isnt it the unstable handle affects the balance of the person riding?

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  • August 16, 2019 at 2:23 am
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    I just love your video so so much!!!😂😂😂

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  • August 16, 2019 at 2:58 am
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    1:46 hahahaha

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  • August 16, 2019 at 5:13 am
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    And no one wnats to talk about the girl with a green sweater?

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  • August 16, 2019 at 6:57 am
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    welders are smarter than engineers because they made the bike or…? Not sure how that got conveyed through the video

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  • August 16, 2019 at 10:20 am
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    I could ride that bike if I went realy fast I would probs hurt myself but it would minimise the need to turn and therefore I would do it

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  • August 16, 2019 at 11:06 am
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    It's like when in a videogame they say that i can invert the vertical axis…i mean why?

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  • August 16, 2019 at 2:42 pm
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    just ride it like "Bike" not like Bicycle . its easy to do it just you need some practice

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  • August 16, 2019 at 5:59 pm
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    I started off watching this video thinking to myself "this is stupid" but by the end of the video, I was amazed 😁

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  • August 16, 2019 at 7:13 pm
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    Dustin, do you ride a motorcycle?
    It’s like a motorcycles counter-steer. When approaching a corner my handlebars turn the opposite direction I want to go.

    Now Dustin, if the answer is no then I really want to see someone try this bike who is a keen motorcyclist!

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  • August 16, 2019 at 9:25 pm
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    Easy i can progress in a day… i do this everyday

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  • August 17, 2019 at 2:10 am
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    I once try to ride a bicycle like this one but I did not succeed.

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  • August 17, 2019 at 4:48 am
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    It looks two sensitive

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  • August 17, 2019 at 11:45 am
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    it s like going reverse gear in the car

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  • August 17, 2019 at 9:22 pm
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    This video reminds me of Mark Rober

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  • August 17, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    Can you drive a car?

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  • August 17, 2019 at 11:35 pm
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    We all want to know if u can revert back to the backwards bike quickly. And go back and forth between the two?

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  • August 18, 2019 at 1:57 am
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    To us broke kids my bike had a messed up handle it's actually not that hard

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  • August 18, 2019 at 2:33 am
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    looks like a deliberately intended sloppy steering system to me, it's got too much slop in it for it to ever work right

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  • August 18, 2019 at 3:54 am
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    Now ride a bike with a backwards pedal mechanism 😂

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  • August 18, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    This was extremely interesting . no way I would have even attempted that bike . way cool thanks for sharing 👍👍🚴

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  • August 18, 2019 at 5:24 am
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    Give it to someone who has somewhat decent hand eye coordination I gurantee it's not gonna take 8 months.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 7:18 am
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    Lmao i had to do this with a bike with broken handle bars

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  • August 18, 2019 at 9:04 am
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    this is exactly same like when i first time control the airplane pedal.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 10:10 am
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    One of the best YouTube videos!
    Knowledge is not Understanding!!

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  • August 18, 2019 at 10:18 am
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    Even Peter Sagan?

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  • August 18, 2019 at 11:54 am
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    I would be extremely interested to se more along this line of experiment. In earthmoving, backhoes and excavators have the same digging arm construction and movement's but can come with 2 completely different hand control settings. ie, you are doing the sam as the bike. Different controls to do the same thing and I've seen many operator's that master both.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm
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    THIS is not your brain it is muscle memory.
    A fine comment on turns, with a normal bike: To make a left turn, you turn to the right a tiny bit to change your center of gravity above the wheels, so you will turn into the off center of gravity. to Make your intended turn.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 6:43 pm
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    That's stupid to say 😵
    "We don't understand". The issue is with bicycle. The levers in the handle are not stable. It's always vobbling hence we cannot ride anything which cannot be predicted for its behaviour.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 9:20 pm
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    Now I'm scared to ride my bike, a normal bike

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  • August 19, 2019 at 12:09 am
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    Stop bull s#*^, this video just telling you once again " Practice make Perfect "

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  • August 19, 2019 at 1:15 am
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    Man! why is this making me cry?
    Is it the music?
    Gotta watch it again without music.
    I apologise in advance for downloading your video

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  • August 19, 2019 at 10:37 am
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    I remember Pepsi Man game.

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  • August 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm
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    How does this apply to countersteer?!?! At a certain speed you start using countersteer.

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  • August 19, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    that is correct. knowledge is not understanding, and so it is the other way around. i've always detested this quote, and it's probably inaccurate but it said something about.. if you truly understand something you'd be able to articulate it into speech and transfer that information fluidly between people. that's not the quote, at all, but that's what it meant essentially… and it's wrong

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  • August 19, 2019 at 5:42 pm
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    What if you alternate which bike you ride each time you go out, would you learn how to ride both?

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  • August 20, 2019 at 12:04 am
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    If you can drive, PLEASE don't try to learn how to ride a backwards bike. I sold my car and for the 6 months that I was looking for a new one, I communted with my bike everyday. After seeing this video, I decided to try it myself. It took me 2 and a half months to learn but I eventually got it and could ride smoothly with ease within 4 months. Right before I had found my next car, it was second nature and I could ride as fast as I could all the time. When I got my car back, I could barely drive and any time that I wasn't concentrating, I would lose control of the car. I had to ride a normal bicycle to learn how to drive again. Just a word of warning.

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  • August 20, 2019 at 4:08 am
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    I tries the same idea almost 20 years back
    Not with handle but cross hand
    I mean right hand on left part of handle and left hand on right part of handle.
    Today i come to knwo
    Had i given few more chances to that practice i would have done that.
    I had an accident😣

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  • August 20, 2019 at 4:51 am
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    knowledge is not = Understanding *

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  • August 20, 2019 at 2:15 pm
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    Nosso cérebro sempre busca o caminho do mínimo esforço e com o tempo perde um pouco a capacidade de aprender coisas não programadas mas com o treino novamente volta aprender coisas novas

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  • August 20, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    I think a left hander could learn to drive it quickly

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  • August 20, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    I just do a fricking wheelie and glide your way throug

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  • August 21, 2019 at 4:03 am
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    This is amazing

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  • August 21, 2019 at 4:20 am
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    Guys, he's completely wrong, you can't ride it because of where you are used to putting your BODY weight, not some stupid brain misinterpretation.

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  • August 21, 2019 at 4:35 am
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    What about the loss of precision due to gears vs the bearings!

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  • August 21, 2019 at 8:36 am
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    I have done it before

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  • August 21, 2019 at 9:18 am
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    I did it in one day…

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  • August 21, 2019 at 10:33 am
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    Looooooovvvveeee this video

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  • August 21, 2019 at 2:52 pm
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    So what's the point?

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  • August 21, 2019 at 11:33 pm
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    Bring my way I'll ride it to Manhattan for you

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  • August 22, 2019 at 12:07 am
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    Wow amazing

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  • August 22, 2019 at 1:30 am
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    I think the interesting thing about this is this is basically like inverted/uninverted controls in video games but in real life.

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  • August 22, 2019 at 2:57 am
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    I rode one of these in science class it is really hard

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  • August 22, 2019 at 11:00 am
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    Most beautiful thing I see and learn..

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  • August 22, 2019 at 1:15 pm
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    Do a vid on rocket league pros that have yo change from normal to backwards controls withing seconds

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  • August 22, 2019 at 1:15 pm
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    Do a vid on rocket league pros that have yo change from normal to backwards controls withing seconds

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  • August 22, 2019 at 3:23 pm
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    Have you tried riding without hands?

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  • August 22, 2019 at 3:56 pm
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    omg… this gives me flashback to the time i accidentally inverted the mouse movement in minecraft when i was young

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  • August 22, 2019 at 4:57 pm
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    You should do a follow up study where you try and retain both biases in your mind. Back to back bike riding.

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  • August 23, 2019 at 12:39 am
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    when I first watched this I had a motorcycle, and wanted to try and learn your backwards bicycle.. but I think this is one of those things you pick one side… unless we can make a backwards motorcycle 😀

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  • August 23, 2019 at 5:24 am
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    Have you evee try to wheelie it? 😄

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  • August 23, 2019 at 12:08 pm
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    When I was a boy, my friends and I did this very same thing. It took some practice but before long we had reprogrammed our brain to ride the bike. before long we were all impressing our friends.

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  • August 23, 2019 at 3:14 pm
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    Hello, Mr. Destin! I wanted to tell you that I got a backwards bicycle! The tires and stuff need a little fixing up, but I can't wait to start learning how to ride it and actually know what you mean about "clicking". I wonder how long it will take me? Oh, and a quick question… after you rode that bike in Amsterdam, could you still ride the backwards bike?

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  • August 23, 2019 at 3:56 pm
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    I loved this

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  • August 23, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    I ride trials competitions with bikes. I would love to test this haha

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  • August 24, 2019 at 6:15 am
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    Your brain gets used to things. Like if your taught to avoid blue balls but try to get red ones.. it would be easy for your brain to think of the color blue as cold and inhuman, but red as warm and cozy. But if you need blue balls and need to avoid red, you might start to think of red as representing warning, or fire, while blue might be thought of as water or healing.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2019 at 1:29 pm
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    cursed bicycle

    Reply

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