#2316: SteerSpokes

One of the many things about bicycle design which frustrates me is the steering-by-turning-the-front-wheel approach -so 18th Century. It really messes with both the aerodynamics and stability to have a great slab of wheel grinding backwards and forwards under the handlebars.

Instead, imagine if one’s bicycle could be made with spokes with aerofoil sections and variable pitch.


A single spoke is shown on a cycle’s front wheel (which doesn’t turn relative to the frame).

Each spoke, however, can be turned about its leading-edge axis (shown in red) using a set of gears in the hub. This means that a spoke can thus be rotated to an angle of attack independent of the others.

Spokes moving forward on the top half of the wheel could be programmed to eg rotate to the five o’clock position (when viewed from above). This would happen when sensors in the static handlebar detected a pressure increase on the right from the rider’s hands.

In this way, when travelling through the air, the pattern of axial spoke rotation can be used to set up a net sideways force -so that the machine will tilt slightly to one side and change the direction of motion of the entire machine.

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