Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Wheel

Design Engineer Ackeem Ngwenya contemplating  the internal structure of his Roadless varia...

Graduate student Ackeem Ngwenya has combined the 6000 year-old wheel with modern materials to develop a new type of all-terrain wheel assembly that switches from narrow to wide tread at the turn of a screw. His Roadless wheel system, while envisioned for rural applications in his native Malawi, has the potential to be as big a change to road (and off-road) transport as was the introduction of anti-lock braking.  Read More

The Shark Wheel literally reinvents the skateboard wheel

A company called Shark Wheel is aiming to reinvent, well, the wheel. Instead of the conventional circular shape we're all familiar with, this new skateboard wheel is based around a cube shape. While this might seem illogical, the company claims its new wheels ride smoother, faster, and offer better grip than traditional skateboard wheels.  Read More

Instead of spokes, the Loopwheel uses three looped carbon composite springs that run from ...

When you have plenty of bicycle to work with, such as is the case with a mountain bike, it’s not such a big deal to design it with front and rear suspension. When the bicycle in question is a diminutive folding city bike, however, it gets a bit trickier. That’s why UK industrial designer Sam Pearce has created Loopwheels. Instead of relying on a suspension fork and rear shock, it lets the bike’s 20-inch wheels absorb the bumps.  Read More

The wheel size is reduced from 24 inches in diameter, to 32 x 12.5 inches when folded

Getting from A to B in a wheelchair is enough of a challenge in itself, without considering the hassle of stowing the chair away each time its user wishes to travel by car, plane, or train. The Morph Wheel aims to make life a little easier in this regard, by providing a wheelchair wheel which folds into almost half its original size.  Read More

The HubDock allows cyclists to remove a bicycle's rear wheel without touching the chain or...

Probably just about all cyclists will agree – removing your bike’s rear wheel is a hassle. You have to open and loosen off the quick-release, pull the derailleur cage and chain back out of the way, smack the axle loose of the dropouts, and then guide the cassette cogs around the now-dangling chain. Your hands get dirty in the process, plus you get to look forward to repeating everything in reverse when putting the wheel back on. California-based inventor Leonard Ashman figured that the process ought to be easier, so he created the HubDock – it lets you remove your back wheel, without even touching the drivetrain.  Read More

ARIS Sport's Blade Runner skateboards have conical wheels, for better carving

The ability to carve into turns is something that is valued by surfers, snowboarders and skateboarders alike. While water and snow are relatively easy to carve into, however, concrete and asphalt are most definitely not, putting skateboards at a bit of a disadvantage. Attempts have been made at better-carving skateboards, including the pivoting-truck-equipped BMW StreetCarver, the many-wheeled Freebord, the caster-wheeled T-Board, and the twisting Ripstick and Skatecycle. Now, San Francisco-based ARIS Sport has addressed the issue with a novel solution – a line of skateboards with conical wheels.  Read More

The PowerWheel and SlowWheel (hub pictured here) are resistance training wheels for road r...

... and why on Earth, you may ask, would you want to go slower? Well, because it requires more effort to make a slow bike go fast, and the more effort you put into your training rides, the faster you’ll go when you swap in a regular front wheel on race day. That’s the idea behind the new PowerWheel and SlowWheel, made by TriSport Devices.  Read More

The puncture-proof Spring Tire has been designed for use on the Moon

Following a request from NASA, Goodyear last year developed an airless tire designed to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of celestial bodies such as the moon or Mars. The tire, constructed out of 800 load bearing springs, is designed to carry much heavier vehicles (up to 10 times) over much greater distances (up to 100 times) than the wire mesh tire that Goodyear helped develop for the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). The Spring Tire has now been recognized with a so-called “Oscar of Innovation” at the 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards in Orlando, Florida.  Read More

A carbon composite wheel with the Zirotec coating

Carbon composite bicycle wheels are a fantastic choice for competitive road cyclists who want to reduce their bike’s revolving weight, while maintaining wheel strength and rigidity. They do have one drawback however: standard hard rubber brake pads don’t work that well against carbon rims, especially in wet conditions or when excessive heat is being generated, such as on steep descents. Cork pads are sometimes used, but these can disintegrate when wet. Disc brakes are another alternative, although their added weight somewhat negates the weight savings gained by switching to carbon wheels in the first place. Now, heat management company Zircotec is experimenting with a thin spray-on ceramic coating for carbon rims that allows for effective use of rubber brake pads under all conditions.  Read More

The spokeless bicycle was the brainchild of nine Yale seniors from an engineering class

Usually, when you put nine university seniors together from a mechanical engineering class in a room for a whole semester with no strict agenda, the last thing you expect to get is a useful product. But this team broke the mold and created a “human-powered spokeless bicycle”. Admittedly, only the back wheel is spokeless, but the Yale students had two very good reasons for that – time and money.  Read More

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