- Additive manufacturing has shown great promise and delivered some exciting new cycling components.
- But what about the potential of designing and constructing an entire bike with additive design principles?
- One of the world’s most visionary 3D-printing experts has designed an all-wheel drive prototype that might get rid of bicycle wheels.
Stephan Henrich is a German architect who has embraced motion.
Based in Stuttgart, Stephan lecturers at some of the city’s most prestigious institutions. And although trained in architecture, Stephan has built a global reputation as one of the most insightful practitioners of additive design.
What was once considered impossible is now doable. Thanks to 3D printers and accessible software. It might be fun to print your own coat hanger or shelving brackets, but the true potential of additive manufacturing is creating integrated production nodes – reducing the burden of outsourcing.
One really big tyre
Stephan’s latest project has ventured into the realm of mobility with a radical all-wheel drive bicycle. The Infinity concept looks like something from a science fiction series storyboard, but Stephan believes it is entirely workable.
Instead of wheels, the Infinity bicycle concept rolls along on a continuous monotyre clip-chain. A drive wheel is located in the middle of the bike and rotates a conventional set of cranks.
But can it really work?
The design is very much a case of function following form. Stephan’s architectural background is evident with the Infinity cycle’s fluid lines and structure.
With a laterally fixed frame, the issue of steering is a question.
Bicycles steer more by leaning than sharp front-wheel steering. But how Stephan’s design will enable even a touch of front-wheel lean angle and decoupled steering, remain unclear.
The Infinity cycle looks fantastic, though. Stephan envisions the Infinity as an urban cruiser or beach riding bicycle. And sand is where it will benefit most from being all-wheel drive – and won’t have to steer much, or very sharply.