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A pedal car is designed to go as quickly as possible without exhausting its human driver. As the race runs its course, we look at the key features of a winning car. The lightweight spoked wheels are attached to the axles in different ways. The rear wheels are fixed to rotating axles so the chain drive can be transmitted to the road. The front wheels are attached to a fixed axle and are free to rotate on bearings because they aren't being driven. The brakes grip the inside of the wheel hub, operated by a flexible cable worked by the driver. The steering uses linked rods which allow the front wheels to stay parallel when they are turned. Gears allow the driver to make the car go faster while pedalling at the same speed. A lightweight, aerodynamic body is important too.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
23 March 2010

Classroom Ideas

This clip would be useful in a topic on vehicles or a topic on sustainability. Children could be given the task of designing a fast, lightweight vehicle and use this clip to help them understand the principles involved in designing such a vehicle. Alternatively, children could hold a debate on the topic of vehicles and the environment: pedal cars could be used as example vehicles in the debate.

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