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Getting a grip

Getting a grip

作者:权揞杵  时间:2019-03-07 05:05:03  人气:

By Duncan Graham-Rowe THE wheel has been reinvented—at least for motorbikes. Steve Dixon, a motorbike fan in Buckinghamshire, has designed a new type of rear wheel for his racing bike that increases traction by up to 40 per cent. The rear wheel dispenses with conventional tyres altogether. Instead, the wheel rim is covered by a series of articulated plates coated with rubber (see Diagram). The plates tilt as the motorbike leans over when cornering, so the whole surface of the plate stays in contact with the ground, dramatically improving the wheel’s grip. The result, says Dixon, who showed off a prototype at the New Designers exhibition in London last week, is a bike that corners faster. The increased traction also allows more of the engine’s power to be transmitted to the road. In the case of Dixon’s bike, this was increased by almost fifty per cent, placing it in the league of professional racers. And having carried out a computer analysis of his wheel, which simulated the forces acting on each element of it, he believes that he could boost the power transmission of professional racing bikes from about 150 brake horsepower (110 kilowatts) to 190 brake horsepower. It may look clunky, but if mass-produced using carbon composites, the wheel would be half a kilogram lighter than a normal motorbike wheel. The prototype shown last week is made from aluminium and magnesium, making it slightly heavier. Dixon has tested the wheel at up to 130 kilometres per hour (80 miles per hour) and cornered at up to 100 kilometres per hour. The wheel handles well and is quieter than you might imagine, he says. “In a straight line, you wouldn’t know it was a different tyre. On corners, the main thing you notice is having to put so little effort into turning the bike.” The only reason he didn’t take it to higher speeds, he says, is that he was afraid of destroying his only prototype. He is now working on designs for a front wheel. In theory, the wheel could be used on public roads, says a spokesman for Britain’s Department of Transport, as long as the bike performed safely and complied with road vehicle Construction and Use regulations. But Tony Dawson of the motorcycle wheel maker Dawson Harmsworth says it may not be easy to get it approved: “Anything that comes outside the normally recognised design of wheels would certainly be looked at individually.” The problem, he says,