Bike chains can be dirty and noisy, so an increasing number of manufacturers are choosing to replace them with belt drives. Polish inventor Marek Jurek, however, has gone a step further with his IzzyBike prototype. Its drivetrain is built right into the front wheel hub, which gives it some claimed advantages over other bikes – besides there being less mess.
First off, the IzzyBike isn't like a child's tricycle, in which the cranks are simply fixed to the wheel.
Riders can stop pedaling and allow it to freewheel, plus the patented system incorporates three gears. According to the IzzyBike website, this setup allows the rider's pedaling power to be more effectively delivered to the wheel than if it first had to be transmitted through a chain or belt.
The lack of a chain also makes it possible to fold the bike in half in less than a second, without any extra hinges needing to be built into the frame. It additionally results in a very short wheelbase (0.9 m/3 ft), making the bike quite maneuverable. The use of 29-inch wheels, however, still gives it some speed. It's even possible to add a jockey wheel that links the front and back wheels, giving the bike 2-wheel-drive for increased traction.
Its unique configuration is additionally said to allow for a more comfortable ride, increased stability, and better visibility ... plus it'll definitely get you noticed, if you consider that to be a good thing.
Jurek is currently trying to drum up interest in the concept, both in terms of industrial partners and potential customers. He tells us that he's aiming for a retail price somewhere in the region of US$900 to $2,000, depending on materials and accessories. You can contact him for updates via the first link below.
The IzzyBike can be seen in action in the following video.