Mythbusting BMW’s Tablecloth Trick

Mythbusting BMW’s Tablecloth Trick

The Mythbusters take on BMW’s “Dinner for RR” video — a video that became a YouTube viral sensation with over two million clicks — in yesterday’s episode for the Discovery Channel. The video shows a tablecloth being removed from a large banquet table without displacing any of the 24 place settings by connecting it to a BMW S1000RR and accelerating away.

Before we get to the results, let’s brief you on the Mythbusters for those who don’t know. Mythbusters is a popular TV show on the Discover Channel that features Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, two experienced special effects experts. Along with others, they test rumors, urban legends and commonly held beliefs through scientific experiments which usually involve constructing complex devices — there’s also a lot of blowing stuff up.

In this episode, Adam and Jamie begin by discussing and experimenting with the usual magician’s trick of pulling a table cloth by hand from beneath a single place setting. Using the knowledge they obtained, they attempt to recreate the video using Jamie’s personal motorcycle, an Erik Buell Racing 1125R DSB, and a replica banquet table setup. Now you may object to using this motorcycle with only 150 horsepower compared to the S1000RR with nearly 200 hp but the tests do ramp up by adding more rope between bike and table. This allows the bike to increase its speed before attempting to pull out the tablecloth so the power of bike used really doesn’t matter.

In the end, even with 600 feet of rope, the bike getting up to 100 mph and the use of lightweight table settings, some of the settings crashed to the ground leaving Adam to declare, “They faked it — totally faked it.” And in typical Mythbusters fashion, Adam and Jamie are left to review the myth saying, “It’s busted.” “Yeah, totally busted.”


The Mythbusters won’t leave it there, however, they go on to reproduce the video by creating a fake setup with a piece of clear plastic between place settings and table cloth. By screwing the plastic down at one end, and with the help of some dry lubricant, they do recreate the video with Jamie’s bike “magically” pulling the table cloth out without knocking over a single table settings.

The Mythbusters page on the Discover Channel website has a few videos showing parts of the episode. If you would like to see the entire episode in reruns, do a search for the “Table Cloth Chaos” episode.

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