Friday, 15 June 2012


1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel
The Cholmondoley Pageant of Power (pronounced the Chumley Pajent of POWARR) is where all things weird, wonderful and indeed powerful meetup in The North to smoke brown ale using mahogany pipes specially attached to beards using vintage-grade motor oil. Remember the Brutus that raced a pre-war Bentley on TopGear last series? Yeah, cars like that. Why doesn't it get more coverage again?

At any rate, making an appearance at the Pageant this weekend is the... vehicle you see here. It's the 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel, featuring a motorcycle frame and a 150cc De Dion engine inside a giant wheel. It looks a little awkward to drive, what with there being a huge wheel hub in your way the entire time, and as it has to be "transported" from the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany, chances are it either doesn't run any more or is too delicate to just fire up when you feel like it. Gyroscopic balancers stop you mimicking a tired-out hamster in a fast-moving wheel and subsequently turn this from elaborate killing machine into wonderfully odd-looking solution to personal mobility.

As you can see in this picture of it at the museum being piloted by a philosophical-looking youth wearing far too much make-up, the wheel is in fact made of wood, with a very narrow band of rubber for touching the road sitting on a raised ring of wood. That means no suspension travel at all, in a vehicle that's basically a giant wheel with steel tubes and a hard saddle for you to sit on. Comfort must not have been a word in 1910 Paris's vocabulary. It works by the engine directly propelling the outer loop (i.e. the wooden bit), and it stays upright using the same principle as a bicycle. Anchored by the engine and driver, the faster you go, the more stable it is. Alas, slowing and turning are not so pleasant, as it obviously gets harder to use as you slow down and doesn't have a steering wheel, so to speak.

As such, it makes far more sense in several ways to have two small wheels, so the monowheel is merely an attention-grabber, and an awesome one at that. I still have hope that they'll catch on, though. Otherwise, why would General Grievous have one in the future? Because he's a hipster who hates hover bikes? Now you're just being silly...

There's really not much more to say about it, but I just want you to know that it exists. Because it's awesome. Also, if you look, all the mechanisms for making a monowheel move are in the lower third of the wheel. Maybe if someone scaled the whole thing down, we could have ring-like "hubless wheels" like you get on cars in sci-fi movies? That would be pretty cool. In fact, I'm going to design it myself and make squillions of monies selling it to car companies, like SAAB, for instance, who are saved yet again.

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