We’ve come to expect certain things. Cars have four wheels, for instance. And we expect two-wheeled vehicles look like bikes or motorcycles or scooters. Then came the Segway a few years ago and shifted the two-wheeled concept around. Now, a number of stories regarding vehicles of one, two, and three wheels have come out. They’re all interesting, some are awkward, some are to die for.
People have been experimenting with one-wheeled bikes for a while. The clown’s unicycle has been around a while and seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity (see mountain unicycling and stupid unicycle tricks). Which supports Gizmag‘s point: “mono-wheelers are traditionally associated with stunts and clowns and circuses — not practical transport.” But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to make useful mono-wheelers.
Common sense, some might say, dictates the a useful vehicle requires two or more wheels, but either those nay sayers are wrong, or the dozen or so mono-wheelers listed here suggests there’s a lot of people with no common sense. Sure, none of them have become commercial successes, but that, too, hasn’t stopped Tito Ott from offering his Wheelsurf for sale worldwide. Prices are a little steep for a novelty, but this is a ground floor opportunity (and the value of the US Dollar is ridiculously low).
Not for sale, however are two other mono-wheelers. Back in late 2003, Bombardier showed off its mono-wheeler concept, but little has been heard about it since. Then there’s the RiotWheel, which looks completely unridable, despite the videos showing how it’s done. Developer Jake Lyall is trying for the single-wheel land speed record, but says: “don’t get us wrong — we don’t think it’s a smart thing to do either. But it’s what we’re doing anyway.”
There are somewhat fewer two-wheeled vehicles that break the mold (if you exclude recumbent bicycles). First is Simon Sollberger’s “The Scabber,” which Engadget says must be so named “because of all the scrapes and scabs you’re gonna get from falling off of it.” They’re just concerned because you have to ride it with your feet inside the wheels, where it looks like they’d get stuck.
An Australian company is hoping for more commercial success with its Bush Pig. Using a similar design, but powered at speeds up to 20 miles an hour, it looks somewhat more deadly.
I saw my first three-wheeler in Britain. Its two wheels up front and one behind the driver where the shape and size of motorcycle tires (they’d have spelled it “tyres”), and the rig was slung low to the ground like a racer. I immediately wanted one, but I want a lot of things I never get. And that’s what concerns me about the new Aprilla three-wheel concept speedster. Once again, I want it, but will I ever get the chance?
The Brits are sort of gaga about three-wheelers (an affliction that seems also to affect the Aussies). And, though it doesn’t look like there are any current commercial trikes there, they’ve had lots of ‘em. 3Wheelers.com and Jim’s Three-Wheeler Page list a bunch of restored production models and keep the flame burning for new ones. The argument rages, however, whether a three-wheeler should look like a car missing a wheel, or a motorcycle that grew an extra wheel.