Mono Wheel Bikes at Beijing Olympics (and Elsewhere)

Light Wheels monocycle Beijing Olympics photo

Daily Mail photo found at Mixx

Maybe you caught sight of the 60 rather spectacular mono rimmed Light Wheels spinning around at the Olympics Closing Ceremony in Beijing on the weekend. And these weren’t the only homage that the Olympics paid to the bike. It was the first Games where BMX (bicycle motocross) was a sport in its own right, and if you looked carefully at the hand-over performance for London you might’ve have spied three cycle commuters accompanying the London double decker bus, including one on small wheel folder (was it a Brompton?).

Those Light Wheels were decidedly funky and were most certainly easy to see at night—at least from a side-on perspective. The official, somewhat overwrought, description of the bikes goes: ‘With a diameter of 2.008 meters, the "light wheel" gives off romantic and pure fluorescent light, resembling the structure of the Bird's Nest. When it revolves in the stadium like a beautiful light circle, it shows the collision of time and space and the human spirit of constantly surpassing oneself and never giving up.’

Light Wheels monocycle Beijing Olympics photo 1

Image credit:Xinhua, found at Beijing Olympic Games

And on that 'never-giving-up' thing noted above, it is worth bearing in mind that the monocycle idea has been around for ages, as a trawl through the archives of the Museum of Retrotechnology clearly indicates, like this version from about the 1860's, to which those Beijing wheels bear more than a striking resemblance.

1873 monocycle replica photo

In 2007 Gizmodo (and others) were reporting on a replica (pic above) of one of these 130 year old monocycles that was being sold on eBay -- for $13,000!

Earlier this year Lloyd noted that designer Ben Wilson had developed his own modern version. We aren’t sure who made the Olympic models, complete with their lights, but we very much doubt you find them at your local bike dealer in time for Christmas!

More Beijing Light Wheel images:

Light Wheels monocycle Beijing Olympics photo 2.jpg

Photos by Stu Forster and Jeff Gross of Getty Images found at Zimbio,
Light Wheels monocycle Beijing Olympics photo 3.jpg

Jeff Gross/Getty Images from NYT
::Beijing Olympics 2008

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