Buzz Blog

Reinventing the wheel?

Friday, June 28, 2013
    To agree with one of the developers' dodgy claims, Shark Wheels really are a revolution in wheel technology. By "revolution," I mean their products tend to revolve around a central axis. Outside of this simple prerequisite for the word "wheel," I can't see much advantage these wobbly-looking things would provide over the 5,500 year old tried and true "circle" models.

Photo: sharkwheel.com


    The skateboarding world is rife with market-minded inventors promoting gimmicky products to children. Every now and then, however, some of these products find their way into mainstream acceptance. Thanks in part to a highly successful kickstarter campaign, one LA-based startup has already begun production on their Shark Wheels, advertised as the SQUARE skateboard wheel that shreds! As a lifelong skateboarder with a physics degree, I found the initial claim suspect. I seem to remember most wheels I've encountered as having a much rounder shape, but one look at the kickstarter page will suggest that these Shark Wheels are squares, circles, cubes and sine waves ALL AT THE SAME TIME.


    Aside from a shaky perception of what a perfect cube is, the video is convincing. The strangely shaped wheel actually rolls! Boardwalk testimonials are positive! The inventor has the same goatee as Tony Stark! Though, of the many claims of superiority attributed to the sine-wave design, few are backed up with convincing evidence. I'll address them one-by-one.

It's a perfect cube
    No, it's not. Very obviously not. Not by a longshot. And contrary to what they say, they don't look like squares from the side. Nine-of-ten pictures show them from a three-quarter angle that gives the illusion of flat sides. Viewing them along the axle, you can easily tell it would contact the road smoothly in a circle. That's the entire reason it rolls.

Screenshot


Shark Wheels are faster
    I don't see any side-to-side races between the shark wheel and a traditional wheel. The speed of the wheels on the board relies almost solely on the quality of the bearing within that wheel, sold separately. The reduced contact area argument applies, but any traditional wheel with straight grooves (picture stacked donuts) would have the same advantage. There's no need for the sine wave here. 

Alternating center of gravity allows for superior high-speed stability, eliminating speed wobble-
    This is stated on the company's website, sharkwheel.com, and is just plain wrong. Speed wobbles, with which most skateboarders are frighteningly familiar, occur at high speeds when your center of gravity begins to oscillate away from the lengthwise axis of the board. If you don't stay low and push your weight forward, the wobbles can worsen until you find your face not-so-gently caressing the pavement. This has nothing to do with the centers of gravity of the wheels themselves, which are fixed in the center and don't alternate

    Furthermore, any extra stability these wheels may provide is probably due to their increased width to accommodate all the extra winding urethane. The same extra wavy width that must slightly hinder aerodynamic properties. 

Phenomenal grip-
    Grip is a mostly a function of how soft the wheel is, usually rated on the durometer scale for skateboarding. Lower durometer wheels are softer and grippier compared to the harder, higher durometer wheels used in street skating. By comparison, Formula 1 cars have wide, soft, smooth wheels because they are proven to grip dry roads best. 

Perfect rain/gravel wheels-
    Perhaps a bit of truth can be extracted here due to the grooves pushing water and sand into the negative space. Though, for rougher surfaces, I'd like to know which direction the grooves are facing at all times so they don't randomly fit into the wrong crack (or coping) and stop me cold. If you're off-roading, there are plenty of inflatable treaded tire wheels available that would do a fine job rolling over wet gravel.

All criticism aside, the custom color combinations and variable durometers are intriguing. I'll give 'em that.

But wait, there's more! From the kickstarter:

We plan on going into every market with a wheel. It is just a matter of time and money. From military vehicles to bicycles to wheelchairs, we want the Shark Wheel to be identified as the only non-circular wheel in existence.

Please watch the video below to see their bike prototype moving very slowly in a straight line. Riding, let alone leaning into a turn on that thing at speed looks dangerous. I can't wait to see what pseudoscience makes it work!


Posted by Halfstache

35 Comments:

Rami Rouhana said...

Alternative wheel concept

http://tpdomain.blogspot.de/2016/02/differential-wheel.html

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 9:12 AM


Unknown said...

Despite everything said above, I bought a set off Amazon. They arent quivker than my Aussi Penny Longboard wheels but and I used them on the penny longboard trucks. However, i can confirm, and argue if u want, but i can confirm that they make riding way smoother and sliding is alot easier. They are expensibe though so I recommend that u only buy them if u live in an area with crappy pavements or trees with nuts ie oak, horse chestnut. Because it isnt worth the money if ur just wanting to use ur board for getting around. Good for cruising long distances though

Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 1:46 PM


Anonymous said...

Sheesh, haven't you ever heard of the null hypothesis? The onus is on the one making the claim, against all available evidence, to prove their position. By your logic, God must be real because it is impossible to prove that he isn't. All one needs to do to make a claim that can't be disproved, and by your logic, that claim should be granted legitimacy solely on the basis that it's not completely impossible.

Are you following?

Monday, February 29, 2016 at 5:42 AM


Bblend said...

It's a round wheel with an unusual treat pattern. Nothing else.

Monday, December 28, 2015 at 2:39 AM


Anonymous said...

Your comment is as silly as their claims. Sheep. Go buy some of these cubic scams.

Friday, September 18, 2015 at 11:22 PM


Anonymous said...

Nothing but marketing hype and lies. You should be ashamed of your claims.

Friday, September 18, 2015 at 11:19 PM


Anonymous said...

And this is why people make money off of simpletons. Yeah, I did not invent it but that does not make it work. It is a GIMMICK. Try using these on a bike and lean into a turn. I GUARANTEE you will fall off the bike.

Friday, September 18, 2015 at 11:18 PM


Anonymous said...

It is a same design as "wave washer" i can create that shape with simple formula in almost any CAD system. How can this be patented if it is that obvious?

Monday, August 10, 2015 at 3:46 PM


Anonymous said...

Have you idiots maybe thought that they didn't do any scientific tests because they don't want to show how it works yet until they get all there patents or they could have a chance of getting ripped off..

Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 7:16 AM


Anonymous said...

I am a lifelong skater, and met this guy on Venice Beach, Ca. I was fortunate enough to be able to test them in person when they debuted the technology at an Abbot Kenny Blvd. festival. Despite all the negative comments above from people who have obviously NOT tried these things, I can attest to the fact that this wheel design is far superior to the normal (round) wheels. At least for certain activities. They ride easier, smoother, faster. When you put the same set of bearings in a round wheel, with similar softness and diameter you can drastically tell the difference. You can push yourself along using far less energy, you don't feel the bumps in the road. If they weren't so expensive, everyone would be riding them. Try it before you knock it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 6:35 AM


Anonymous said...

Oh man...this conversation is gold! Don't stop now! :D

Friday, May 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM


Physics said...

All the bikes with their racing wheels came in last place in the race.

Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 6:47 PM


Don R said...

Anonymous I FULY AGREE WITH YOUR POINT: "...(they) are just slamming them because (they) did not invent it. They also make racing wheels for bikes." Edited for clarity.

(DOUBTFUL this will pass the censors review).

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 9:53 AM


Don R said...

APPROVAL? So only comments that agree with an author are approved? It figures. The puritanical folks must first grab the bible and ask the 'Lard' if comments fully agree with the garbage the 'expert' spews!

NO HOPE of the TRUTH ever appearing here; none at all. I'm outta here!

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 9:50 AM


Don R said...

NOBODY has shown PROOF POSITIVE the "wheels" do NOT perform as claimed. All I have read thus far is the POSSIBILITY the wheel is not an improvement of the circular wheel. HALFSTACHE'S line, "To agree with one of the developers' dodgy claims," is just as "dodgy"and offers NOTHING to substantiate his claim of the wheel being bogus. JEALOUSLY (HE COULD NOT DESIGN SUCH A 'WHEEL') seems to be the ONLY point made in this biased article. I don't care about the claimed qualifications HALFSTACHE offeres; on THIS ONE he is full of crap.

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 9:48 AM


Anonymous said...

No offense but I have a PhD in physics and a lot of what you say is completely incorrect. For that reason, I would never use your product.

Friday, May 15, 2015 at 8:24 PM


Anonymous said...

has anyone devised test protocols to test these claims?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM


Anonymous said...

Well the basic claim that less contact area has less friction is total BS, so the whole premise is faulty. There is an ideal contact patch for each situation - surface, wheel durometer, rider weight - and too little contact patch will be much slower, as will too much contact patch. Try it yourself - shave down a decent set of longboard skateboard wheels to be much narrower - they will be much slower. Similarly a set of very good inline skate wheels put on a skateboard will be slower than skateboard wheels of the same diameter and urethane, because the contact patch is too narrow.

Friday, October 3, 2014 at 2:53 PM


Anonymous said...

use a higher quality ball bearing between your board and wheel and u have the same effect

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 2:44 AM


Anonymous said...

Have any of you actually ridden one? I don't know about physics but I rode one today and it definitely feels faster than my 70mm long board wheels of the same durometer.

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM


Anonymous said...

"David Patrick" above (October 16, 2013 at 5:15 PM) counts out the six benefits of Shark Wheels as: 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4.

Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 7:05 AM


Anonymous said...

Oh wow. What a surprise you immediately bring up 9/11

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 7:46 PM


Anonymous said...

I'm not going to withhold judgement.

There's zero real physics demonstrated in the videos. No tests. And they are not cubes. The only thing they might do is give you more traction because they have increased area and varied angles for grip. It's vaguely possible that the wheels may be faster on perfectly smooth surfaces due to reduced contact area. Big deal, nobody is trying to shave three tenths of a second off their track time.

It doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Enjoy your novelty wheels, I hope you feel faster and "grippier." I'd be caught dead buying them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 10:23 PM


Anonymous said...

Though I am skeptical, I'll withhold judgment on the performance claims until I see some unbiased test results. But PLEASE stop saying it is a "perfect cube," because that is ludicrous. "A SINGLE wheel fits inside a cube FLAT against all 6 sides of the cube" is not the definition of a cube. It is the definition of something that fits inside a cube. A hexagon fits perfectly inside a triangle, flat against all sides of the triangle. A hexagon is not a triangle.

What you have created is a wheel with sine wave treads. It looks cool and it may even have some benefits. Can't that be enough? Why flout 9th-grade geometry along the way?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 5:35 PM


Anonymous said...

Coming from experience riding a longboard with Gullwings and Dave's Shark Wheel, I can say there is a noticeable difference to riding my stock Sector 9 from the local skate shop. With the Shark Wheel grip is especially there when attempting to power slide, yet extremely smooth when heading full speed over dimpled manhole covers. I didn't have a lot of time with the wheel but did take it through water, rocks and sand, down driveways, sidewalks and launching off curbs. After taking them for a spin I can say I'm thoroughly impressed. I'm no pro boarder but I will say as a skate veteran who loves to surf, I'd trade up my existing wheels for a set of Shark Wheels any day. Tread patterns are essential to dominating various terrain and weather conditions. These wheels work very well at doing that!

Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:35 PM