I’m intrigued by a brand-new design of bicycle wheel, one that looks likely to revolutionize the comfort and safety of this time-tested transport. BikeRadar reports:
Loopwheels do away with conventional spokes in favour of three carbon fibre springs or limbs. The idea is that this wheel offers integral suspension and in-turn additional comfort to the rider by flexing in a way that a conventional wheel never could.
The design allows the wheel to absorb impacts in a unique way. Take for example hitting a kerb head on – the outer rim of the wheel resists flex like any ordinary rim yet the carbon fibre sections will deform in a way that would bring the hub closer to the rim. It’s not only a slight bit of give either – the wheel can offer a full 45mm of travel.
This new-found shock absorption is also said to allow riders to fit narrower and more efficient rubber. This is due to the suspension value of large volume tyres becomes less important when twinned with a Loopwheel.
. . .
The design allows for compatibility with nearly all hubs through interchangable connective components between the rim and hub. A loopwheel can also be built to a wide variety of offsets just like a regular spoked wheel, as a result both derailleurs and disc brakes are also compatible. The only real restrictions are that loopwheels don’t support rim brakes and they also require adequate clearance between the top of the tyre and the fork crown to make way for their own deformation. This is not usually a problem with a lot of fat-tyred bikes, however, as users can normally scale down the tyres accordingly.
There’s more at the link. In a later report, BikeRadar informs us that a Kickstarter has raised the necessary funds to put the Loopwheel into production. Here’s the video produced as part of the Kickstarter appeal.
BikeRadar also tested Loopwheels offroad, and found them very comfortable. Full marks to the inventors for their ingenuity. I’m going to have to try these, when they become available.