Yesterday, I saw a post on the Core77 blog that featured this concept rendering of a bike with hubless wheels. The post linked to Kancept, where several respondents took issue with the design. I was just thinking the other day that I had not seen an open wheel design in a while. They seemed to surface every so often in the early nineties, but I never heard a really good explanation of the mechanics involved. Yeah, I know that spokes cause a lot of drag, but I have a hard time buying into this solution. I am usually pretty open to new ideas, but I am always skeptical when I see one of these designs. Besides renderings are pretty easy to dismiss, right?
The grainy picture shown here is the Black Hole wheel from an American company called Wear and Tear. This image came from the September 1994 issue of Bike Mag (thanks to Liam for sending it to me). Supposedly, the wheel rotated on three self-lubricating ball bearings in the monoblade fork. According to the company, the fork/wheel assembly weighed about a pound less than a conventional system. Did it work? I don’t know, but Wear and Tear does not seem to be in business anymore. Does anybody remember this company or know if this product every made it to the market? Also, if you know of a similar product that went beyond the concept stage, I’d love to hear about it. Like I said, I am skeptical about hubless wheel concepts, but I would still like to try one.