In situations where regular motorcycle suspension might need some extra help, the SoftWheel, with in-wheel suspension, might be handy. Bring it on…!
A motorcycle's ride and handling dynamics are immensely complex. With so many elements coming together – wheel size, tyre size and tyre sidewall height, the chassis and its ability to flex, front and rear suspension with all its adjustability – getting a bike to handle the way its rider wants, has to be rocket science. And if you have any doubts about that, witness Valentino Rossi's years spent with the Ducati MotoGP team.
And now, there's the SoftWheel wheel, which could possibly bring some benefits to motorcycle ride and handling dynamics in the future. Developed in Israel, the SoftWheel wheel incorporates in-wheel suspension (see images and video), which may provide multi-directional shock absorption, improved dynamic response, better control and better propulsion energy efficiency.
While the current SoftWheel wheel has been designed for bicycles and wheelchairs, the same basic concept might well be developed for motorcycles in the future, especially for trials bikes and off-road/dual-purpose motorcycles. According to its developers, for bicycle use at least, the SoftWheel wheel can actually absorb more than half of the impact energy when the bike is ridden over obstacles like kerbs and stairs etc. Also, the in-wheel suspension activates only when required (when the vehicle hits bumps and other obstacles). At other times, on flat terrain, the SoftWheel wheel functions like any other regular wheel, with no energy loss and no 'bouncy' feel or sensation.
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