A UK company called Jelly Products just unveiled the Loopwheel – a safe, beautiful bike wheel with a built-in suspension system that could revolutionize the compact bicycle industry. The Loopwheel is compatible with just about any small-frame bicycle and has already busted through its Kickstarter goal – so it may be headed to a bike shop near you very soon.
Do you remember this amazing Soft Ride bike from Ron Arad? It used bent steel bands instead of tires in an attempt to insert suspension into the wheel instead of the frame. Unfortunately, that design was slightly (ok very) impractical for the real world. The Loopwheel sets a similar goal, although it may actually be rolled into commercial production soon.
Full-sized bikes offer a comfortable ride but are hard to shove into a trunk or bring onto a subway. For those looking to use bicycles for the “last mile” of a commute, this can be a problem. Compact bikes, including those that fold up into tiny packages, make is easy to bring your own wheels wherever you go, but often lack the features that make the ride a comfortable one, like full suspension systems. The Loopwheel aims to solve these vexing problems.
The Loopwheel is a patent-pending 20″ bicycle wheel with integral suspension. A spring system between the hub and the rim of the wheel cushions the rider from bumps and potholes in the road. Since the suspension system is located inside the wheel (instead of the frame), folding bikes could boast the same comfort level as a traditional spoked wheel bike, making them much more attractive to inexperienced bike commuters.
“The springs are made of carbon composite material, carefully developed and tested to give optimum compression and lateral stability as well as strength and durability,” explains creator Sam Pearce. ”I’ve designed connectors to attach the springs to the hub and rim, and these are aluminium extrusions. There are three springs in each wheel, which work together as a self-correcting system. The spring configuration allows for the torque to be transferred smoothly between the hub and the rim. ”
As mentioned previously, the project has already busted through its $62,000 goal, but there are still 13 days to make a pledge and get your hands on one of the first Loopwheels to roll off the line!