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Why? No chain is a pretty nice feature. I think a lot of casual commuters would be willing to accept quite a bit of downside to get their hands on a chainless bike (that isn't a penny-farthing or a unicycle).



Imagine a sideways pressure on either of the wheels. Pretty much instant collapse.

A spoked wheel has an important property which is not immediately apparent to people who have not worked on them. Every spoke is contributing to maintaining the shape of the wheel in the face of extreme forces. In this case your only hope is to use an extremely thick and heavy piece of metal to maintain the hoop shape. And with this particular design, as soon as that hoop collapses or even slightly deforms, your wheel will jam.

As for the lack of chain, imagine your jeans/dress getting caught in that geared wheel. At least with a crank/chain you can stop pedaling when that happens, in this case you could very well lose a leg. And you aren't even gaining anything, because now the rim of the rear wheel has to be kept meticulously clear of debris or else risk a jammed wheel. Good luck doing that on a rainy day riding through puddles.

For a good commuter design, your best bet is to go with a chain cover like what's seen on dutch bikes. Reliability, easy maintenance, cheap parts, what else could a commuter want? Plus you can add fenders and a rack.

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What problems do people have with chains? They're dirty? Well, yeah, you have to keep them clean or put them in a chaincase. They break? Never happened to me, but keep a $5 chaintool in your bag and you can remove the faulty link more quickly than you can fix a flat tire. The gearing doesn't work? Don't ride a geared bike if you don't know how to shift, and don't ride a racing bike when you're commuting. Get an internally geared bike and you will never have gearing problems again.

The chain is one of the least problematic of any bicycle part. But then again, there aren't really any problematic parts on bikes, which is why people like them so much.

Also, the reason why a hubless wheel is stupid is because there is nothing keeping the wheel round. The hub and spokes on your wheel are not there to look good, they are there to give the wheel strength. A metal rim like the one in the article will be bent unusably seconds after someone mounts the bike. A carbon fiber rim will just break explosively the first time you go over a bump.

Anyway, what I've learned from this article is that people associate all the problems they've ever had with bikes with the traditional design, and want a non-traditional bike because they think it won't have problems. The actual solution is to get a traditional bike that's setup for actual use instead of racing. Racing bikes are not fun to ride to work. Commuting bikes are.

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Chains have very real problems and frustrations that crop up often- when used on motorcycles. When it comes to bicycles though, I suspect it is the other problem with chains that drives people;

They aren't pretty, symmetric, or aesthetically pleasing. Strangely, this is apparently a very serious problem for many people.

Note: All the problems with a motorcycle chain apply to a bicycle chain, but motorcycles travel massively greater distances, at higher rates of speed, through tougher environments, while transmitting anywhere from 20-400x as much power as a bicycle chain.

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You could also just get a bike that features a belt-drive, like the Gates carbon belt. Completely greaseless. The Trek District was even shortlisted for a Brit Insurance Design Award.

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