I was surfing YouTube the other day (like you do), checking out the real life Tron Lightcycle video which I posted about a while back, when I came across this video. It’s apparently taken from an Australian TV programme in the late 1980s where a bloke has invented something pretty radical – a hubless motorcycle wheel!
According to the video, it seems what he did was to enlarge the bearings so much the whole rim is a circle of bearings – thus removing the hub to where the rim usually is. I can imagine it requires quite a bit of engineering precision to create lightweight, thin, reliable bearings that can be used in this way, which I guess may be one of the reason’s we’ve not seen this sort of bearing make it into the mainstream. Another reason is often that mainstream manufacturers recognise that joe public tends to shy away from radical innovation on their bikes, even though they may be a step forward in terms of technology. Thinking specifically about something like the Yamaha GTS of the ’90s here, although history’s littered with similar examples.
It also made me think that Australasia in those days was a bit of a hotbed of motorcycle innovation. There was the Britten racing motorcycle which promised wonderful things (only to be cut short by John Britten’s early death).
Anyhow, enough rambling. Check out the video – it’s pretty cool!