They’ve managed to reinvent the wheel. In a so-called ‘hubless’ wheel, the hub is actually a large thin ring that fits just inside the rim of a large bearing with the tire on its outside. The inner ring itself attaches to the vehicle’s frame.
On a motorbike, the front wheel also has to handle the steering. With such an unconventional design, one of the challenges is getting power to the rear wheel. This can be done through a specially adapted chain or belt.
Another solution, developed by the Italian Sbarro, is to house the entire propulsion system inside the wheel itself.
The concept of the hubless wheel was in fact invented by Franco Sbarro (who has built a variety of working hubless wheel vehicles, including at least two motorcycles and a car, the 1989 Sbarro Osmos), and patented by Globeholding of Geneva.
“Sbarro” has since 1971 been a small Swiss high-performance replica and sports car company founded by Franco Sbarro. He also established the “A.C.A. Atelier d’Etude de constructions automobiles” and “Espace Sbarro Schule”, both in Switzerland, a research and education center, the “Espera Sbarro Montbéliard“, in France and “Créa”, a small production workshop in Casablanca, Morocco.
The magnet car
This car overcomes the force of gravity through the strategic use of an electric engine and magnets. Winner of the unseen technology award at the interior motives design awards back in 2007, the magnetic vehicle concept finds an unusual solution to the problem of, expending fuel to get somewhere. Rather than finding a different fuel source, or building a smaller car, this concept ingeniously reduces the weight of the car by using an electric engine with magnets the same polarity as the roads. The resulting upward force lightens the vehicle’s weight by 50%.
Another innovative touch is the desing of the seats: two outer layers, pile yarn, and a soft construction foam make it possible to adjust the final hardness and spring characteristics of the seat. This lightweight, adaptable seating not only cuts down on waste during construction and the overall weight of the vehicle while being driven, it also sounds pretty darn comfy. Of course, the biggest caveat to this vehicle’s road dominance is the very crux of it’s construction: in order for the magnetic engine to properly polarize, the roads on which it’s driven also have to be magnetized. Magnetic roads not being yet readily available, the design for right now remains purely theoretical.
How to Skatecycle
The Skatecycle, also known as the “Freerider Skatecycle”, is the world’s first mass-produced hubless, self-propelled skate. Invented and patented by Alon Karpman, the Skatecycle was manufactured by Brooklyn Workshop, Inc. based at that time in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Unlike most traditional skateboards, the user does not need to continuously push off the ground to gain and maintain speed. The Skatecycle marks the first time a hub-less machine has been mass-produced, and it is now part of the permanent collection at the Henry Ford Museum and the Bicycle Museum of America.
The Skatecycle contains a double-jointed twisting axle connected to two standing platforms surrounded by approx. 23 cm polyurethane wheels. A hubless wheel is present on both sides of the axle. In order to engage the unit, the rider needs to twist their feet inwards and outwards. The Skatecycle measures approx. 81 x 16.5 x 21.5 cm (LWH) in dimension and weights approx. 3.3 kg.