Loopwheels launches funding drive on Kickstarter

Unique suspension design for 20" wheel bikes was at Beposked show; now 35% of the way to its funding target

by Dave Atkinson   April 18, 2013  

If you were at the Bespoked Bristol show you probably came across Loopwheels there. When we hear the phrase 'suspension wheel design' we get a cold shiver as we remember all those heavy double rims with an elastomer sandwich that were doing the rounds 10 years ago. But this is an elegant solution, that works. And it's looking for funding.

Loopwheels are the brainchild of Sam Pearce of Jelly Products, a Nottinghamshire-based design company. He's spent four years refining the design and now he's ready to go into small-scale production, with a Kickstarter campaign prviding the seed funding for the first batch.

Sam explains: “I first had the idea of a wheel with suspension inside it when I was sitting at an airport waiting for a flight. I saw a mother pushing her child in a buggy. The front wheel hit a slight kerb and the child jolted forward because of the impact. It happened several times in the hour I was there and that’s what sparked my idea for better suspension, within the wheel itself.

I love cycling, so I thought it would be awesome to ride a bike with in-wheel suspension. But it took many, many prototypes, designs and re-designs to get a wheel that really worked well. Then we had to put it through a lot of testing, to check strength, durability and performance to get to the product you see today.”

The Loopwheel is a rim suspended on three carbon leaf springs that loop out from the hub to the rim, and back again. Loopwheels have worked with a company that's better known for producing archery equipment to develop the springs, which are attached to existing hubs via a triangular strut. Obviously the rim can move, so rim brakes are out; Loopwheels use an internal drum brake.

So what's the benefit, and why 20" wheels? Well, the benefit is a much smoother ride, and the tangential way the compliance in the rim works (moving directly away from the point of impact, wherever it is) means that the wheels cope with bumps and kerbs really well, especially in a smaller wheel. 20" wheels are predominantly a folding bike format, and suspension systems tend to add weight and complexity to folding bikes meaning they're not widely used. Loopwheels are much easier to spec, and they're retro-fittable to your old bike too, assuming you have enough clearance (50mm is needed) to allow for the movement of the rim.

Sound like something you need in your life? Well, time to head off to Kickstarter and make your pledge. At time of writing the total raised is just over £14,000 of the £40,000 total, so a third of the way there. You can get a single wheel for £230, and if you want a full set then there's still one of the eight early-bird sets left at £420, after which there's 25 sets available at £490. For £950 you can have a full bike, the wheels built into a Dahon folding frame.

http://kck.st/17DrrUf

 

7 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Very cool.

Would be interesting to know what the hysteresis loss on these would be due to the rider's weight compressing each spring on rotation riding along a smooth road. Not because its a criticism of the product, obviously no one riding a folder and interested in smoothness is going to be worried about performance, but just out of curiosity.

posted by jackh [104 posts]
18th April 2013 - 15:56

like this
Like (2)

Off to check it out, as I run 3 20" on my trike, I am always looking for something different, might be outta my price range though.

edit: After looking, No good for me, not that I would want to put them near my bike, they look cool on the frame in the campaign, but on their own, they are ugly.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8128 posts]
18th April 2013 - 16:32

like this
Like (2)

saw these at bespoked bristol. Looked good and getting a lot of attention.

Cycled up Alpe d'Huez at least once each month since July 2008

http://www.morethan21bends.com
http://www.prompt.cc

gbzpto's picture

posted by gbzpto [72 posts]
18th April 2013 - 16:55

like this
Like (2)

Now they are very similar to an old pram wheel I saw in Beamish, 4 metal leaf springs connecting the axle to the rim. That was 700c ish. Wonder if they've got a pair I could try.

Mr_L

posted by Mr_L [3 posts]
18th April 2013 - 20:57

like this
Like (2)

oooh.... can see a DownHill race for folding bikes coming!

posted by Farky [174 posts]
18th April 2013 - 21:55

like this
Like (1)

Thinking 100 for a suspension seat post !

Lance Bumstrong's picture

posted by Lance Bumstrong [20 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:43

like this
Like (2)

I got to ride on these yesterday, bloomin lovely and lots of fun!

I asked the developer about hysteresis and he wasn't concerned about it - he had factored it in but (and then he lost me with proper technical speak) it wasn't an issue Wink

http://themartincox.co.uk/2013/05/loopwheels-ride-world-exclusive/

for a review of the wheels

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [253 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 10:24

like this
Like (1)