Just finished watching the very first Harry Potter movie and one thing struck me right away: maybe this is just "fairy tale" logic, but how can people balance themselves on such a slim stick when riding brooms? What is the logic behind that? Am I missing something simple in the whole "broom" idea?

  • 3
    Magic. Also, a broom isn't too thin for a normal person to keep balance. One of Harry brooms has stir ups, feet holders. Look at motor cycle and gyro scope balancing.
    – cde
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


While the broom is thin on its center radius, they often have stirrups, foot rests that require a wide angle of the legs. This wide angle allows for very simple control of a body's position, similar to a competition high speed bike. By, well, spreading his legs, Harry creates a larger area to balance on. This is how motorcycle and dirt bike racers handle tight turns, widening their bodies area to improve handling. No different than a regular bike really.

Physics aside, these brooms are magical, which would allow for a larger area through magical means, lowering the balancing forces required. Even accounting for magic, Harry seems to be exceptionally skilled at quidditch, as in he is abnormally good at handling a broom. This means he has athletic skills on the broom that the normal witch population does not have. This reflects real life athletic skill at sports, which only a small percentage of the population acceles at.

Toy broomsticks are given to witches at a young age as well, like tricycles. These only go a few feet in the air, and allow young wizards and witches to learn how to use a broomstick, for casual flying.

Of course, the real brooms used for shooting, had bicycle seats/saddles on them:

enter image description here

In the early days of filming before they worked out how to do it, flying on a broomstick was a painful proposition for Daniel Radcliffe. He sat, for hours at a time, on a bicycle seat on a broom about eight or nine feet up in the air. "If you sit completely upright or bend over on a bike saddle, without putting your feet on anything for any period of time, it gets really, really painful – for a man, particularly, although it was obviously not pleasant for a woman either."

enter image description here

  • 3
    That first picture looks deeply, deeply uncomfortable... Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 16:18
  • Old answer, I know but no, bikers do not widen their bodies to get more control. It is either leaning out of the bike to lower and get the center of gravity to the side for better cornering or putting weight on the arms to better handle heavy straight braking. Which means that the answer only would be, "it's magic" ?
    – Pierre P.
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 15:33
  • As mentioned in Quidditch Through the Ages, brooms in the Wizarding world where enchanted with Cushioning Charms to make them more comfortable.
    – saagarjha
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 11:09
  • "This means he has athletic skills on the broom that the normal witch population does not have." Somewhat pedantically, Harry's exceptional skill may be caused by something different, e.g. the sight or reflexes to catch a snitch, or pure bravado. He also gets hurt more than we see others get hurt so you could make a counterargument that Harry overextends himself beyond his broom skills more than other players.
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 14:40
  • Note that while you are correct about balance in general (and the stirrups on the broom providing strong balance support), motorbikes are have shapes (steering handle, concave seat, a body for the legs to clamp onto) to help riders keep their position. If you were to make the steering handle much sorter and made motorbikes as cylindrical and narrow as a broom, motorcyclists would start falling off as well or would at least need to be a lot more careful not to fall off
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 14:43

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