Recommended age group: 14–18
Time required: one 45–60 minute session
Equipment: Gearing up for Olympic cycling activity sheet, calculators.


At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the British Cycling team had their most successful summer ever – winning an astonishing 12 medals at the competition.

How did they do it? David Brailsford, the team's performance director, claims it is all about examining absolutely everything you can think of that goes into riding a bicycle, and then improving it. That includes the bicycle design and use of the gears.

In this challenge, students learn all about bicycle gears, how to calculate gear ratio, and what that means for a bicycle's performance.

Explain to the students that in this project they are going to assess the performance of bicycles used for different events by analysing gears.

The activity sheet, 'Gearing up for Olympic Cycling,' provides some basic background information on gears and how to calculate ratio, and sets out the challenge tasks in order.

Make it active

Task three on the worksheet can be used as an active extension activity based on an analysis of the students' own bicycles.