Integral Suspension – Somebody Built a Better Wheel!

Integral Suspension – Somebody Built a Better Wheel!

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Kickstarters can often kick start my attention to amazing projects out there – and this one’s going to be a real game changer.

A company called Loopwheels set out to create a solution for folding bikes because they lack the suspension necessary to mitigate the discomfort of riding over the bumps and cobbles of the everyday commute.

A loopwheel is a wheel with integral suspension. Carbon composite springs replace conventional spokes and constantly adjust to shocks and changes in the terrain that the wheel rolls over. In effect, the hub “floats” within the rigid rim. Check out their website and see the loopwheels in action.

According to Wikipedia, the wheel showed up somewhere in the second half of the fourth millennium BCE. The earliest wheels were made of rounded pieces of longitudinal wooden boards.

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The spoked-wheel began showing up in records from 2000 BCE and it allowed the construction of lighter and swifter vehicles. The iron-rim appears in the 1st millennium BCE and remained in use with little modification until the 1870s, when wire wheels and pneumatic tires were invented. It is especially exciting when an innovation happens to boldly move a product forward that has remained relatively unchanged for so long.

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Though initial products were for commuter bikes and trikes, Loopwheels was immediately inundated with requests to apply this technology to wheelchairs. After much R&D, loopwheels inventor, Sam Pearce came up with a solution and he’s launching his second Kickstarter campaign. Pearce interviewed a variety of users who told him they wanted to be able to go over long grass, off road, up curbs and on uneven streets and they wanted more comfort and less vibration through their chairs and into their bodies.

Pearce soon realized there was a need for loopwheels on chairs, not just a “want”. After a year of design, development, testing and prototyping, a new loopwheel designed specifically for wheelchairs is getting ready for production.

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Loopwheels has been nominated for the prestigious Designs of the Year 2015 award announced by the Design Museum in London last month. To learn more about how to support this revolution – visit their Kickstarter page.

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