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  1. #1
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    Reinventing the Wheel:'Tweel' airless wheel technology looks interesting!

    While looking at the Wikipedia web page on "emergent technologies" I stumbled across a word that I had never seen before "tweel"

    "The Tweel (a portmanteau of tire and wheel) is an experimental tire design developed by the French tire company Michelin. The tire uses no air, and therefore cannot burst or become flat. Instead, the Tweel's hub connects to flexible polyurethane spokes which are used to support an outer rim and assume the shock-absorbing role of a traditional tire's pneumatic properties."

    "The Tweel consists of a cable-reinforced band of conventional tire rubber with molded tread, a shear band just below the tread that creates a compliant contact patch, and a series of energy-absorbing polyurethane spokes. The rectangular spokes can be designed to have a range of stiffnesses, so engineers can control how the Tweel handles loads. The inner hub contains a matrix of deformable plastic structures that flex under load and return to their original shape. By varying the thickness and size of the spokes, Michelin can generate a wide array of ride and handling qualities. The tread can be as specialised as any of today's tires and is replaceable when worn.[1]
    "


    The Wikipedia page also states this, which I thought might also apply to malicious anti-bicyling puncture strips which people in Portland have recently been finding on bike trails..: "The Tweel can also withstand a police 'stinger' spike strip, which would force law enforcement to adapt in order to catch a suspect in a vehicle equipped with Tweels."


    According to a 2006 article on BicycleTech blog http://bicycletech.blogspot.com/2006...of-future.html

    which quotes gizmag.com.au (more here) "The Tweel promises performance levels beyond those possible with conventional pneumatic technology. The first commercial applications of the Tweel will be in lower-speed, lower-weight vehicles"

    Looks as if it would work on bikes, definitely. I'm sure somebody, somewhere has tried it..

    They look promising. A flatless, shock absorbing, fast wheel.
    Last edited by christ0ph; 11-12-11 at 06:34 PM. Reason: had lost one of the important links..adding it

  2. #2
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    I like the idea of thinking outside the box and thinking different, but this sounds really heavy and high rolling resistance...maybe acceptable for utility or delivery bikes (not messenger bikes).

  3. #3
    Senior Member CaptCarrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    The Tweel does have several flaws, however, the worst being vibration. Above 50 mph (80 km/h), the Tweel vibrates considerably. That in itself is a big problem, but it also causes two other things: noise and heat. A fast moving Tweel is unpleasantly loud.[2] Also, long-distance driving at high speeds generates more heat than Michelin engineers would like, which might lead to premature failure. The Tweel can also withstand a police 'stinger' spike strip, which would force law enforcement to adapt in order to catch a suspect in a vehicle equipped with Tweels.
    Doesn't sound that it will ever be used outside the utility/comfort market to me. But inside that market it could do quite well.
    Not as green as I might be cabbage looking!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    I like the idea of thinking outside the box and thinking different, but this sounds really heavy and high rolling resistance...
    Agreed. The pneumatic wheel is remarkably efficient since almost all the energy used to compress the tire at the front of the contact patch is returned by the re-expansion at the back of the patch. This is especially true of lightweight road bike tires with minimal tread and either tubeless or thin latex tubes. I doubt that the plastic matrix in the Tweel will be anywhere near as efficient in returning the energy needed to compress it as it rolls along the road.

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    hmm. was going to say something else then read captcarrots post and makes me doubt theyll even do well there. and looking at the pics i dont think theyve got any could put on a bike and im not sure if that would be suitable for a bike. i mean besides the size where you gonna put brakes on that? http://www.gizmag.com/go/3603/picture/26521/ i could see it for bikes that are designed to go into very bad terrain and need to be able to get over pretty much anything and atvs too.

    edit: just noticed it was updated april 29th 2005
    Last edited by pg13; 11-12-11 at 04:25 PM.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Given the high height-to-width ratio of a bicycle wheel, that doesn't look too promising for conventional bicycle applications.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CaptCarrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pg13 View Post
    ... where you gonna put brakes on that? ...
    Discs?

    Quote Originally Posted by pg13 View Post
    ... edit: just noticed it was updated april 29th 2005
    Well spotted.
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  8. #8
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    Disc brakes.. And the web pages I saw sounded as if it can achieve 95% efficiency which is not as good as the best bicycle tire but its far better than the other airless tires out there now..Also they dont have to be wide, they can be as narrow as a bike tire bit also flatter on the bottom which means more traction. The spokes are slightly elastic, though, so torque (thust, braking) would be very slightly delayed as a function of the elasticity. But not much, because they would be very tightly tensioned..just enough give to give it a bit more give. I could also see the increased contact area as offering some ability to stop and start faster..I think its just a slightly different beast, its not at all clear to me that its inferior - for example, it says there that NASA is using "tweels" on the next gen lunar rover..

  9. #9
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    Ah.. I should have included this URL at he beginning but I have so many windows open I lost it.. this is a *bicycle specific* article Although, yes, it is old.. 2006. Wikipedia was the first I had read about them though..


    http://bicycletech.blogspot.com/2006...of-future.html

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    yes but captcarrot i dont see how they can put discs there. second if the wheel is all deformable how is that going to react to a brake like a disc? the middle would stop the outer it seems would go on and stretch and collapse? in that link from the hub to the tire is all deformable. and yes i didnt bother to check the date because he said it was emergent but i should have noticed sooner

  11. #11
    Senior Member clydeosaur's Avatar
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    They tried this on cars years ago. Verdict? no better, infact inferior. No clear advantages outside of flats. Price was not mentioned much, so I doubt there was much advantage there too.

  12. #12
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    The tire in its current incarnation is a overwhelming positive for bicycles, and in a sense is an extension of the human body. The only major problem is flats, but that is a big problem in traffic on a bike, because there's no redundancy.

  13. #13
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    What flats? The tires dont have any air in it which is one of the supposedly major selling points for these wheels.

  14. #14
    Senior Member CaptCarrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pg13 View Post
    yes but captcarrot i dont see how they can put discs there. second if the wheel is all deformable how is that going to react to a brake like a disc? the middle would stop the outer it seems would go on and stretch and collapse? in that link from the hub to the tire is all deformable. and yes i didnt bother to check the date because he said it was emergent but i should have noticed sooner
    I 'spose the same argument could be put forward for rm brakes - even though the stresses are less, they are still there.
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  15. #15
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    I could see it not being to big a problem in the rear though still annoying. But the front? Wouldnt that possibly raise the otb chances if you had to stop suddenly and suddenly the front wheel collapses a few inches? All well. This is all just speculation though Ill admit the idea and creativity is nice, just I dont think for bikes or anything umm somewhat speedy? is fit for.

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