Fat Tire Bike Turned Hubless

Bicycle wheels have looked pretty much the same for over a century, and for very good reason: It works. [The Q] decided to ignore reason for a bit and focus on looks, so he built a fat tire bike without any hubs or spokes.

To make this work, he fabricated two sets of ring shaped “hubs” about the size of the rims, with a series of ball bearings around the circumference for the rims to roll around. The original forks were cut short and welded to a set of brackets that bolt to new hubs. This further complicates the back end as there’s nowhere to attach the sprocket cassette. The original rear hub, cassette and disc brake was moved to the inside of the frame. This drives the rear wheel using a second chain attached to a large ring sprocket mounted directly on the rim. The front brake was simply eliminated.

While this new design won’t be taking on existing bicycles, we doubt practicality was a priority in the build. It’s definitely a head turner, and we can’t help but see an opportunity to go even further and build a TRON bicycle.

Just recently, [The Q] turned another fat tire bike into an all-wheel-drive extreme off-roader. For another pedal-powered head turner, check out the strandbeest bicycle.

42 thoughts on “Fat Tire Bike Turned Hubless

    1. Just from looks I did, fun and usual, not completely impractical, till I saw he welded the roller bearings in on both sides – so when they wear that is loads and loads of work to fix.

      Simple fix though – weld nuts onto the frame and put a slot/cross/bolt head onto the threaded rod holding the bearings – slot being easiest and definitely not causing any clearance issues as the rod can be easily cranked entirely inside the rim – will probably have to grind some of the welded nuts down for greater clearance, but only once if at all.

    1. all fixed gear bikes brake through the chain
      (many with no front brake)
      it almost never causes a problem

      the derailer as tensioner on that drive/brake chain is much more concerning/problematic
      (though it doesn’t seem to be doing much – and the chain wrap on those huge gears should prevent skipping even with some slack introduced by the tensioner

      l mostly wonder why it was used at all…
      not to hard to make the drive hub/jack shaft moveable to tension the chain

  1. Well, technically it has really large, hollow hubs. You could make a truly hubless design by attaching to the rim with just a partial “hub” (not a full circle), but this would require some creativity to hold the rim firmly in place while still letting it roll. If the rim had flanges that stuck own horizontally, you could grip them with bearings from both sides, for instance.

      1. Or have to brake quickly. The rear brake is crap in an emergency. a fixie rider in London killed a pedestrian in London a few years ago as was sent to prison partially because he had no front brake. In hard braking on a bike the rear does hardly anything.

        1. Maybe he could make a front break by having a rubber pad pressed against the front wheel when he wants to stop, kind of like how the engine drives a Velosolex. Just don’t ride in the rain.

  2. Some pokyurethane rings around the bearings would have really helped with the noise. But it’s all welded together and can’t retrofit anything. Can’t replace worn bearings either. :)

    But looks reaaly, realt cool!

  3. Better use “run flat” tires, it looks like it’s not possible to fix a flat out on the road. I carry four spare tubes for a century ride, on a particularly nasty day, I needed all of them.

    1. been riding a fat bike for more than a decade
      and can tell you that ‘tubeless’ is the only way to go

      (do it on my ‘road’ bikes too but you probably run skinnier tires than I do)

  4. How about find a way to put the pedal mechanism inside the empty space of the front wheel? It is kind of awkward but maybe add second rear wheel and spread them apart for stability? You can call it an ….oh. Never mind.

    Anyway, looks really cool. He needs a little dog that weaves back and forth through the wheels as he rides.

  5. I wonder if you could do an electric conversion, only place the battery packs inside each wheel – lowering the center of gravity and getting a large amount of storage capability in that space. And then use a single drive motor through gears skipping the hub system they normally use for electrics. You could use some sort of spring spacers to cushion the battery packs at that point also. Would there be a large advantage to that, or are the electric hubs a much better way to drive the system?

    1. Effective braking and steering will be impossible with all that weight in the wheels. Bicycles are specifically designed to have super light weight wheels for this reason.

  6. Love the comments,
    Someone shows an awesome build, that “works”. All the comments go crazy about every possible engineering oversight and area of improvement.

    This is well aligned with how my brain works. Its great to see that i am not the only one ;)

    1. my favorite slogan:

      “if you’re not sure, confidently post the wrong answer on an internet forum”

      you’ll have the right answer quicker than any google search.

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen these come up every now and then. I think the big problem is the bearings wear out really fast because they are moving far faster than a traditional hub. I suspect it also causes a lot more friction.

  7. Interesting project – the new wheel-ring bearing structures appear to roll directly on a few points on the inside of the thin-section hubs. I’d be curious to know how far one can actually get on even a moderately rough road before those deform or fail.

    1. thanks to the passive suspension provided by the pressure and high volume
      fat-bikes tires

      the rim takes surprisingly little load

      so l suspect it can and will last till the bearings fail

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