The wheel turned in­side out

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN

ARI­ZONA-BASED com­pany Global Air Cylin­der Wheels has turned the tra­dional wheel sus­pen­sion sys­tem in­side out and pre­sented the world with the Air Sus­pen­sion Wheel (ASW).

In­stead of spokes con­nect­ing the rim to the hub, the ASW has ec­cen­tri­cally mounted air cylin­ders.

These cylin­ders still use com­pressed air to aborb shocks and smooth the ride, but un­like a pneu­matic tyre that can only be pumped or de­flated, the shocks are tune­able to give the rider whatever level of tyre de­flec­tion is re­quired, from race hard to ride-on lawn mover soft.

Its en­gi­neers say the level of lat­eral and torque flex can also be ad­justed to al­low the wheel to act as a torque cou­pler for more trac­tion in of­froad sit­u­a­tions with lots of torque, like bull­doz­ers.

The treads of the AWS bolt di­rectly onto the outer rim, and any de­sign from any ma­te­rial is pos­si­ble. Global Air Cylin­der Wheels of­fer a range of pre-molded road re­tread op­tions by com­pa­nies such as Miche­lin that bolt on in sec­tions, as well heavy-duty in­dus­trial op­tions cast from polyurethane, ure­thane or steel.

The com­pany says the in­side-out-wheel can be scaled for giant trucks work­ing on open pit mines to down wheel­chairs.

The com­pany has not yet pub­lished firm prices for the Air Sus­pen­sion Wheel, but say the ini­tial out­lay will be more than for tra­di­tional pneu­matic tyres.

How­ever, the com­pany stated ASW can last up to 13 times longer than nor­mal min­ing tyres and tread re­place­ments on a hard work­ing dump truck will only be needed once in five years, which will cost a lot less over the life­time of a truck.

The bolt-off treads can be changed with very lit­tle gear, no jack needed ei­ther, which will al­low the me­chan­ics to ser­vice the wheels dur­ing shift changes and lunch breaks to keep the ve­hi­cle work­ing.

Dur­ing a 10-year life­time, the ASW also will not suf­fer punc­tures, blowouts or — as hap­pens of­ten when the giant tyres heat up to much, tyre ex­plo­sions.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The Air Sus­pen­sion Wheel turns the wheel in­side out, with air-dampers in the place of spokes to ab­sorb shocks. The wheel can scale up to work for giant dump trucks as well, where any type tread, from polyurethane to steel, can be mounted to the rim.

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