Bike riders will know that riding on bumpy roads with potholes or going up a curb will cause some discomfort -- ditto for wheelchair owners and folding bike afficionados. But that may change with Loopwheels, an innovative, shock-absorbing wheel that has a looping suspension springs integrated within the wheel itself. The result: a smoother ride with less vibration, with less road noise. Check out the video:
Loopwheels also use a proprietary construction material to increase durability and reliability. Working with a local bow-makers, British designer and inventor Sam Pearce went through 70 versions before finally getting it just right. According to the website:
Loopwheel springs are made from a carbon composite material, carefully developed and tested to give optimum compression and lateral stability as well as strength and durability. Specially-designed connectors attach the springs to the hub and rim. 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.
Loopwheels look sleek and modern too, and were recently shortlisted for this year's Design of the Year award from the London Design Museum. Pearce explains how he got the idea for Loopwheels:
In 2007 my idea of a wheel with tangential suspension was born when I was sitting at Eindhoven airport waiting for a flight. I saw a mother pushing her child in a buggy. The front wheels hit a slight kerb and the child jolted forward because of the impact. I asked myself why a wheel couldn’t have suspension inside it, so it would soften an impact from any direction. I sketched the idea in my notebook, got on my flight, and didn’t think much more about it for a couple of years.
But the idea kept resurfacing, and Pearce eventually developed it into the Loopwheel. Pearce has dubbed this new way of approaching the wheel "tangential suspension," and currently, the company makes a small, 20-inch version that is perfect for folding bikes. However, they just recently succeeded in gaining Kickstarter crowdfunding for wheels that will be made for wheelchairs, and according to Wired, the company intends to make Loopwheels for mountain bikes next. Pricing for a three-speed Loopwheel starts at USD $462, and the Loopwheels folding bike at $1,493. For more information, check out Loopwheels.