This piece of awesome, the Involution from what was once Capricorn Cyclo-Works, was art and science and craftsmanship taken to the next level.
While you’ll never see one in the parking lot at your local bike night, it remains a demonstration of what people with a vision can do.
Capricorn co-founder Ro Lehew:
“The wheel is, in fact, inspired by classic watch movements. We’ve taken an existing engineering concept and applied it in a purely decorative manner. The gears bear no load, so the performance of the wheel is not impacted. Using high-grade aluminum and composites, we balance weight and mass carefully, so the weight remains within normal parameters. In fact, the entire system is safety-verified. If an object, such as a small stone, introduces itself into the mechanism, the gears will continue to rotate with the wheel.”
Quoting Randy Edwards of the former Capricorn Cyclo-Works:
“Gearing holds up well under normal road speeds, due to the care taken in balance and alignment. We haven’t noticed any gyroscopic peculiarities yet, but the Involution is designed to be a custom wheel, so the designs can vary greatly. The true “secret” to the wheel is that the gearing you see is decorative, and not critical to the function of the wheel in its basic form. We have even engineered a slip mechanism, so that if something should become lodged in the action, the wheel itself would continue to turn normally. The gears and such are not critical to function.”
The functional, passive planetary gear system would surely be a joy to behold as it spun at speed, and the team who made them say many combinations of custom appearances could be created by manipulating system ratios, angular velocities, direction of rotation, details in machining and a wide variety of plating options. The whole deal works according to careful management of wheel balance and gyroscopic effects. The frictional and inertial loads are carefully planned to come together and work by taking care of component weight, symmetry, and distributing the various masses equally – even if the two sides of the wheel have different configurations.