Stuttgart-based designer Stephan Henrich describes his firm's specialty as "Robotic-design and architecture in physical realisation and speculation." Given that description, perhaps it's unsurprising that his concept for an all-wheel-drive bike is pretty outside-of-the-box:
"The INFINITY beach and city cruiser is driven by a revolutionary monotyre-clip chain construction that forms automatically a temporary rim in the wheel area and a dented beltdrive in the bike's center area. This monotyre is propulsed by a central dented wheel getting its force by a crank over a short chain and a 8-speed gearbox. This combination makes 'allwheel-drive' possible. The tyreguide rails in the wheel areas are fully suspended (parallelogram to maintain the rim guidance)."
Here's Henrich discussing the design's viability:
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Not sure how one is supposed to steer with that, but even if there was enough lateral flexibility, how can it allow for the greater distance covered by the front contact patch/"wheel" compared to the rear one?
As others have pointed out, this is gorgeous, but it's just not workable... even on clean, level streets. The drivetrain has a crazy amount of friction area. A motor could push it, but without exotic materials, that frame will heatup and fail (if the rider hasn't already jumped off from the burns). Even crazier -- the designer said he hadn't heard any 'killer arguments' against this. Why didn't he run this by someone with decent mechanical knowhow? The structural and operational issues hurt my brain. Sad that he spent so much time on the artistry without any practically. Maybe it will at least inspire some future innovations.
Everyone attempting to "reinvent" or "deconstruct" the bicycle has failed, because they ignore an essential design criterion: efficiency. Modern pro bikes transfer something like 96% or 97% of the power at the pedal into the pavement. This thing would be lucky to reach 60% efficiency, given that you're putting a lot of energy into flexing the tire every inch that it turns. And that's not the only place where efficiency will tank.
ID students should be prohibited from trying to reinvent the bicycle, just as beginning guitar students should be forbidden from trying to play "Stairway to Heaven." It's harder than it looks and results in nothing but embarrassment.
Interesting, but as many have already pointed out "Not Practical".
Previously commented on:
1. lack or limitation of steering, and
2. flexibility of track in unsupported sections at front and rear.
Braking appears to be on the drive hub, but only one brake would be required!
The biggy for me would be the amount of friction, in addition to the fact that the drive track would need to operate with moderate fouling.
Mechanical Engineer Porn? Nobody would have parts or no how to fix or tune it. Hubless for hubless sake designs irk me. They solve a non existent problem and do nothing with the resulting space.
Spend all that time on design and then spend five minutes on the seat, seat post, stem and bars? And those cable runs are a huge distraction. Also: having no brakes and not steering are two killer arguments.
The lack of spokes makes it a lot harder to kick over when the rider plows into a busy crosswalk because they didn't feel like taking their stupid clicky shoes off the pedals.
It is an interesting design and I hate to sound negative, but I see at least three big flaws. The first is the monochains structural integrity. It is designed to go from a convex to a concave shape so it has no structural integrity of its' own. Compare that to a regular bicycle wheel that keeps it shape by the rim and spokes. Given that a 100+ kg person wants to be able to ride over bumps you need something that doesn't just give under you. Bump into something with the front of the wheel and it will give.
The second and more alarming to me is the "cogs" of the monowheel. Since they are very close to the ground and they open and close depening on where on the "wheel" they are situated, they will be prone to picking up dust and gravel that will impede this movement. On a bike you want moving parts that come into contact to be as far off the ground as you can. While the central cogs are, they have moved the rest of the "chain" as close to the ground as possible. On very clean city streets it might work.
Steering will be quite limited compared to a regular bike where more or less only the speed limits how tight turns you can make. Here you have the rigidity of the belt itself.
It is a novel design, but from a practical point of view I don't think it will make a huge dent in the bicycle market. As a city cruiser, gliding on smooth, clean pavement with few sharp turns it could work. And it would certainly turn heads when you glide past.