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Transport bicycle packs a storage compartment in the front wheel


October 31, 2013

The Transport bike, with a storage 'trunk' located in the hubless front wheel

The Transport bike, with a storage 'trunk' located in the hubless front wheel

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More and more city dwellers are taking to the streets on bicycles these days, but many of them run into the problem of how to carry things while riding. Most people will wear a backpack or attach saddle bags to their ride, but wouldn't it be easier if a bicycle had a built-in trunk instead? That's what three industrial design students wanted to find out when they made the Transport, a bicycle that replaces the spokes in the front wheel with a handy storage compartment.

David Hotard, Matthew Campbell and Edwin Collier developed the Transport for a studio course in bike design at Georgia Tech, which was sponsored by bicycle component maker SRAM. The group's goal was to produce a new take on the common bicycle that would appeal explicitly to urban commuters, with the inclusion of a trunk like you'd find in most other vehicles.

The hubless front wheel of the Transport consists of a large, round frame with a standard bicycle rim and six bearing fitted over it. As the bike moves, the wheel's frame stays in place while the tire rotates around it on the bearings, essentially using the frame as an over-sized axle and leaving the center of the wheel empty. Meanwhile, the back wheel has a standard gear system that provides motion when the cyclist pedals.

Where most hubless wheels tend to leave the center space open, though, the Transport's front wheel is fitted with an open compartment made from lightweight PET-G plastic that's large enough to hold most backpacks. The hubless design also keeps the center area stationary, so the tire can turn without spinning the trunk's contents around like a washing machine.

The hubless design keeps the center area stationary, so the tire can turn without spinning...

Unfortunately, while it may look nice, the current prototype isn't actually rideable. Since they didn't have much of a budget for their project, the designers were forced to build the bike mainly from plywood and glue, with only a handful of steel supports in particularly breakable areas. The most recent model is mainly for proof-of-concept purposes, though the group has stated plans to make one out of stronger materials in the future.

It's hard to imagine that a few books or a laptop sitting inside a wheel wouldn't affect the bike's handling, but the designers say they tested a regular bike with additional weight on the front and found it didn't hinder its performance too much. The group admits that even a fully functional hubless bike might not be as stable or cost-effective as a regular one with spokes, but they believe it could still appeal to commuters who value the extra storage space. They've also mentioned possibly remaking the compartment out of a wire mesh, to cut down on crosswind resistance and allow rainwater to drain from it.

Sources: David Hotard, Core77

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher

Like all hubless wheels, this will have problems with sealing the bearings and faster wear from higher bearing rotation speed. If hubless wheels were at all practical, they would be on the market by now.

1st November, 2013 @ 12:30 am PDT

Silly and sad.

A bicycle is such an amazing thing because form follows function. When function takes the back seat to design for the sake of making something look different it is silly and when the item in question is something so perfect as a bike then the whole deal is just sad.

I'm all for new ideas and the later years have brought amazing tweaks to bicycles, but ignoring the laws of physics when trying to improve bicycles is a no go.

1st November, 2013 @ 03:10 am PDT

Why not just have the basket at the side, or one at each side for better weight distribution (and that gives me a good idea for a DIY addition.)

Also this wheel would make a too costly product and ruins the amazing "magic" of a hubless wheel.

Yusuf Khan
1st November, 2013 @ 08:59 am PDT

Or simply wear the "Back" pack on your back as it was designed to be and take a vacation with the money you save.

Smitty Jl
1st November, 2013 @ 09:07 am PDT

Not the finished article but might inspire something good in the future, nice try.

Paul Adams
1st November, 2013 @ 09:52 am PDT

Whilst it is sometimes necessary to carry luggage alongside the front wheel, eg on long-distance touring bike, the bulk of the luggage is always carried on the rear of the bike, as this has much less of an effect on handling and stability.

Putting all of the weight of luggage over the front tyre is silly, and is compounded by the fact that the front wheel is effectively a solid disc, meaning that it will be adversely affected by wind, not to mention airflow from large urban vehicles such as buses and lorries.

So basically, not fit for purpose.

1st November, 2013 @ 10:09 am PDT

This is a gigantically bad idea as laughable as the spoof of Eddie Bauer some years ago proposing "Front Packs" to match up with backpacks for camping. BTW, there were reports of bumkins actually trying to buy some of them new front packs.

1st November, 2013 @ 11:25 am PDT

Cool, but I would hate to fix a flat, it must be a pain to do so.

Nelson Hyde Chick
1st November, 2013 @ 11:34 am PDT

Nice looking bike! However, I must agree with the other comment. Whoever designed the bike has never ridden disk-type wheels, ever! As an experienced Time-Trialest who has raced outdoors with racing disk wheels, I can tell you that the slightest bit of wind can cause the rider to lose complete control when using a front disk. This is the "steerer" front and adding saddle bags to the front causes even a greater percentage of the rider going down. The "Hubless" wheel can be made where air can flow through like some of the more aerodynamic carbon fiber wheels being used right now. Unless you are racing against the clock, who wants to concentrate so much on steering that you lose focus on where you are going or if you are going to get there! Back to the drawing board for tweaking the front wheel and moving the weight/bags to another location.

1st November, 2013 @ 12:38 pm PDT

Either the Noomad and S-Cargo would be my preference. An interesting exercise though.

Bruce H. Anderson
1st November, 2013 @ 01:34 pm PDT

Too bad the rear wheel is actually a Zipp 3001, rebranded with Sram??? WTF??

The wheel itself is over two decades old in design and hasn't been manufactured in as much time. Kudos for using a relic in the design, but not really!

Ryan Mertens
1st November, 2013 @ 02:12 pm PDT

I would think that a rider would quickly learn just how badly a load can be out of balance when rotating. This thing is radical vibration just waiting to shake the bike to pieces.

Jim Sadler
1st November, 2013 @ 09:41 pm PDT

You know, we already have a place on the front wheel for cargo - it's called a front pannier. However, unlike the above piece of bike design masturbation, bikes with front panniers can be ridden, and indeed have been for at least 30 years.

I mean, have these designers never seen a touring bike?

Ian Brett Cooper
2nd November, 2013 @ 06:28 am PDT

Why not just mount a rear rack and panniers to a regular bike? This looks like it would cost $5000 to do the same job (but not so well) as a regular touring bike.

Ian Brett Cooper
2nd November, 2013 @ 11:20 am PDT

It's interesting, but how do you change tires on it (the "hubless" wheel)? And I don't think it would be problematic in steering, but if you park it anywhere without an armed guard, some n-eighbo-r will steal it in five minutes.

Mark Calvin
2nd November, 2013 @ 06:38 pm PDT

Skinny jeans and a Chrome bag does not a cyclist make. Carbon fiber and hubless wheels does not a breakthrough design make, and finally, design school ID card does not a brilliant designer make. All of these does a poseur make.

4th November, 2013 @ 01:55 pm PST

Looks very nice! A one big bag on the longitudinal axes, really low baricenter..

..BUT a wheel like this, works only if is a PERFECT round!

Just one bump and it become irregular and bearings works bad...

So, if in this bump the wheel has 10 kilograms more...

Nico Danger
29th June, 2014 @ 08:22 am PDT
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