I like things that are out of the ordinary, and this bicycle certainly fits that description. Make Magazine says, “Lunartic is a capstone project from Loughborough Design School [Leicestershire, UK] student Luke Douglas.”
Nothing new about hubless wheels, of course. Any quick Google search will reveal a number of motorcycle applications along with use in the occasional car or V-8-powered monowheel.
What makes Lunartic, a belt-driven bicycle, interesting is the position of the cranks. The bottom bracket, the horizontal axis that connects the crankarms, is inside the circumference of the rear wheel.
This is, of course, impossible with a normal bicycle wheel, though 1890s pacing multicycles were made with the rear-most bottom bracket doubling as the rear axle.
Moving the Lunartic’s bottom bracket inside the wheel makes for a more compact wheelbase, especially compared to this monster built by students from Yale, which uses a chainring behind a chainring to get a big enough gear to drive the rear wheel.
It’s hard to justify a hubless design for a standard diamond-frame bicycle. The added cost, complexity and weight wouldn’t seem to have an offsetting benefit. However, if a future variant of the Lunartic came with a folding frame allowing the front wheel to be stored inside the rear, something like the electric-powered YikeBike does in reverse, well, that would be something to see.
Plug “Lunartic” into YouTube to see it in action.
Mechanically inefficient, unnecessarily heavy, no place to put baggage, prone to topple over backward when accelerating briskly or climbing a steep hill.
Design students repeatedly come up with ideas for different bicycle configurations that have similar issues. Such bicycles generally look cool but most are impractical.
Now, that Bike Friday tikit in you blog’s header image is a different kind of beast entirely — rides pretty much like any other bike, folds in 5 seconds, small enough to carry in a shopping cart, take with you on a bus (with its “shower cap” cover, store under your desk at work… It was designed by long-time bicycle builders and engineers.
No disagreement from me, John. I guess what I really like about it is that it exists within the physical world. I see way too many computer renditions of impractical ideas not to give the guy points for actually building the machine.
And I kind of like impractical things, anyway. Exhibit A: my completely unsupportable love for the R.I.O.T. Wheel: http://www.theriotwheel.com.
Readers: Two years after it was published, this article remains one of the most-read stories on 16incheswestofpeoria. What accounts for your interest? Did you want to know more about this particular machine? Or were you looking for information on belt-drive mechanisms in general?
Drop me a line; let me know what you’re thinking.
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