# Physics of moving uphill on a scooter without pushing

The road in front of my house has a slight slope to it (very slight). I have a basic 2-wheel unpowered scooter with a T-handle above the front wheel. You just push with one leg and then cruise. It's just a typical unpowered scooter. If I get just a tiny bit of speed, then I can go uphill without pushing by "wiggling" side-to-side. I turn and lean into the turn and sort of pull back, and then quickly do the same on the other side, alternating sides quite rapidly.

I am wondering what physical principles explain this?

My best guess is that there is a bit of gravity involved as I lean to one side to turn a bit of gravitational potential into downward speed, but that I use my muscles to rapidly pull up and do the same on the other side. So somehow burning some biological calories with a bit of gravitational assist, somehow it turns into forward motion of the scooter.

When I do the side-to-side motion though, I also sort of lean/pull back on the handle bars (possibly dropping my body down towards the ground a bit too). It is very easy to pop a wheelie this way too as I am kinda pulling hard. This makes it feel like the front wheel, when slightly angled sideways mid-turn, I am exerting a backward force using the friction between the wheel and road. I think I also sort of use my body to lean the opposite direction pulling the scooter out of one turn and into the next turn. So maybe that pulling back on the handle bars has something to do with it?

Does anyone here have any insight? Is it a gravity on the scooter? Gravity of my body motion? My pulling back on the handle bars to take advantage of friction on the road? Something about the angular motion of turning the wheel? A combination of some or all of these? Other?

I've included a picture from above to help. The picture doesn't illustrate my body motions though, where I sort of lean into and pull back during each turn with rapidly alternating sort of using my body to also pull the scooter into the next turn.

• So it's the same action as roller-skating? By leaning and pushing you gain forward motion. Similar too to tacking a sailing boat? In both cases the resistance to motion with the medium (tarmac, water) are taken advantage of. The fact that is uphill means there is a breakpoint where you cannot overcome a steeper gradient. Gravity provides the necessary friction between wheel and tarmac, and the use of your weight, and also sets the limit of the gradient that can be achieved. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:59
• It's a great question. I don't have a scooter but the idea that it can be propelled like a one-footed roller-skate is intriguing. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 20:07
• @WeatherVane I don't think it is too much like roller skating since both wheels are fixed. It is more like the casterboard as mentioned below. But I still don't totally understand the physics. Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 2:01