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Breaking Design Rules Through a 3D Printed Bike With All-Wheel Drive

Published on March 29, 2022 by Madeleine P.
3D Printed Bike with All-Wheel Drive

Can you imagine riding a bike that is designed completely differently than what we know today? Well, German designer Stephan Heinrich has brought this idea to life using additive manufacturing. The Infinity is a concept that could break the rules of design as we know them today. It’s an all-wheel drive bicycle that at first glance seems like an idea from the future, but which could be closer than we think. Though currently modern engineering marvel is still in the concept stage, 3D printing has made it possible to bring the idea of this bike to life and demonstrate its long-term viability.

This is not the first time that 3D printing and bicycles have come together in a project, especially in the development of parts. In general, this technology allows the production of bicycle frames optimized to reduce the final weight of the bikes. In this case, however, 3D printing played a completely different role than we’re used to. It was used to build the small prototype of this revolutionary all-wheel drive bicycle concept. Though, it still remains to be seen whether the idea will come to fruition and whether 3D printing will be used to manufacture some of the parts.

The 3D Printed Bike Prototype

The all-wheel drive bicycle would have a monotypic chain system that forms a temporary rim on the wheel sections and a toothed belt drive in the inner groove. The method by which the bicycle propels itself is at the center wheel, as the crank generates the power needed to move the wheels. Thus, the bicycle is set in motion with the help of the short chain and an 8-speed gearshift, which is not comparable to that of conventional bicycles. Heinrich used selective laser sintering technology from the manufacturer Sintratec to develop this small-scale prototype.

The bike’s name, “The Infinity,” comes from the structure of the four-wheel drive itself, which is shaped like the infinity symbol. As for damping, Heinrich says the 3D-printed bike will have independent suspensions front and rear. This will allow the bike to adapt to and handle all kinds of bumps. The designer is still working on developing this concept, but he is sure it could revolutionize the market and break current design norms. “If the necessary funding is raised and strategic manufacturing partners support the project, the bike could soon go from a concept to a prototype and then to a commercially viable product for the masses,” he concluded. Whatever the future holds for this idea, we’ll keep you posted on any new developments.

What do you think of the new type of bike? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedinFacebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover Photo Credits: Stephan Henrich

The 42 comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

  1. Roger Butterworth says:

    I genuinely do not understand how someone clever enough to design this is also stupid enough to design this.

    1. F.lyb.INITE Hue Moore says:

      It’s clearly designed for Möbius Track Racing. OFF-TRACK they would just steer like the bikes from TRON.
      Honestly, I think the branding concepts are limitless.
      The problem is you guys are only thinking in 3-dimensions.

      “OMG”. Just came up with the company byline!!!!! –Don’t berate. Be Gr8!!!

  2. Robert Bissex says:

    Very interesting design, but how would you steer it with a fixed chain system as shown?

  3. Steve D says:

    How will it work when it goes round a corner? Assuming the tyre can bend, I’ll accept, but how will it adjust the differential speeds of the two contact points?

  4. Don Cooper says:

    Having difficulty coming to grips with steering without losing the track from its guides

  5. Josh says:

    Sure, it looks awesome and will probably be great. Until you want to turn… this guy is supposed to be smart?

  6. ChadM says:

    Maybe only aimed at super expensive track bikes…so he only has to sell a few thousand. Steers more like a motorcycle where you push and lean. Not actually designed for he masses to enjoy….

  7. Donbot says:

    Somebody needs sleep ……”The bike’s name, “The Infinity,” comes from the structure of the four-wheel drive itself” uh I’m sorry 4?

  8. Joe says:

    He is clearly a designer, not an engineer.

  9. Chris says:

    It’s a money grab. This thing looks like a nightmare. Steering might kink the tire or disengage the gears. A flat would be super-expensive and require total disassembly. A rock in the gears would strip the bike and possibly cause major injury when the wheel locks in place. While it’s appealing in a science-fiction sense, in the real world, this thing is a major class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

  10. Jay A says:

    Maintenance nightmare. Handling nightmare. Cost nightmare.

  11. Gunnar says:

    Quatro Rodas ?!?

  12. Spyros Alifragis says:

    Hello from Greece I want to follow your creations.

  13. Kris says:

    This wastes a lot of energy by fighting the tire resistance of bending in and out. Pretty sure this would not coast far with all that friction.

  14. Jon collins says:

    This is pointless and unrideable, just to keep ballance while riding to go straight you have to make small adjustments to the handlebars as shown in this video by veritasium https://youtu.be/9cNmUNHSBac

  15. Riston J Thode says:

    Everyone keeps talking about turning but that works because it is using articulation not Ackerman geometry. However the shear number of joints would compound any wear. If 5000 joints have 5 thousandths wear that’s 2 feet. If the suspension is supposed to compensate for stretch then the front and rear sections will flatten rapidly. The friction losses will also be crippling. This what happens when a brilliant mind lacks practical experience with both using what he is designing and the effects of wear.

  16. Maru says:

    How are you supposed to change the tire if it pops?

  17. Ruud Schmitz says:

    Complicated, not functional. Looks interesting, but is probably useless and not fit for the masses.

  18. Aaron says:

    This is more of a tank tread than all-wheel drive. Looks like a a nightmare.

  19. Mitchell says:

    The tyre is shown as staying perfectly rounded on the unsupported part of the front and back “wheels”. But same tyre has to flex freely when it goes through the reverses in the middle of the bike, and to bend side-to-side when going through the steering, all at many miles per hour.

    There are bearings all over the place, rolling at insane RPM, where a regular bike has bearings at each hub, rotating leisurely. There’s more tyre and tread. The gearing is wonk. All-wheel-drive is silly.

    Other commenters have covered the rest, but I want to hammer the skinny little racing saddle juxtaposed with the cheap beach-bike brake levers.

    It’s a design joke.

  20. Vulcan Tourist says:

    That continuous tire has so many friction points that it’s laughable. The original safety bicycle design works so well because the wheels have a grand total of TWO friction points each: the axle and bearings and the brakes… that is all! This design creates friction points over nearly the entire circumference of the tire just in order to “keep it in line” and accessible to the drive train.

    This is design for the pedantic sake of proving a point, not an an exercise in efficiency or utility.

  21. Dylan Anderson says:

    Look, I love the design. But as everyone else said, it’s the steering. After looking closely, (to sort of ease the steering dangers) I believe (though it’s not mentioned) that could be an airless tire, which would acctualy be easier. A solid /honey comb rubber structure, vs trying to keep an airtight seal, along the entire track under the tire, and having that track, also be able to be d in not 1, but 2 perpendicular directions. Yeah, no…

    As I was saying, if that was in fact a solid tire, then rocks and stuff should not be of concern, nor starting. Because ideally that tire would be well mounted to the track. (Of course, this is assuming the track moves WITH the tire, not simply a rail for the tire.)

  22. Ben Millen says:

    Obviously nothing more than a fantasy concept, the amount of friction in that whole setup would be crazy, it neither solves any issues nor improves any of the conventional cycle design and in fact introduces a whole bunch of problems and complexity

  23. Jessica says:

    I think the bike is beautiful. The man did say it was a concept, and after all what are concepts? They provoke the mind, stretched boundaries, but most of all give us a visual of what can be. Keep up the good work to propel this world forward!

  24. The Brakes says:

    As a designer, 2 big problems with design stand out.

    Bikes and motorcycles depend on a often disregarded and misunderstood principal of counter steering to start turns. This design neglects that even if the chain-tire can bend to make a turn. The design might learned about this in physics class.

    Otherwise, anyone who has designed a chain or belt drive knows that the central drive sprocket in this design does not have enough engagement to the chain-tire to effectively transmit torque.

  25. REkzkaRZ says:

    A concept, not a final. While whiners / naysayers say “this will not steer”, with a few simple changes it could steer — and also steer in new ways.

    If the wheel shape could angle, rather than pivot, you could turn by leaning. Another method to turn. could be a flexible chain allowing an angle ~20% between front and back bends. Also, the wheel diameters in this design do not have to remain fixed, so if the front or back wheels grew/shrink, that could make a much tighter turn angle.

  26. Austin says:

    Not to mention switching gears would be impossible due to the radius of the teeth placement.

  27. geemy says:

    no steering not only means it won’t turn. you also won’t be able to balance the bike in a straight line. you would probably not be able to pedal to any usable speed anyway given the mechanical losses and the weight. I don’t see the use for AWD either if you can hardly pedal it on a flat road.

  28. Matthew Smith says:

    Struggling to see what possible benefit this design would actually have. Seems like a tire change would be a painfully time consuming and expensive experience.

  29. Stefan Kachaunov says:

    Pretty bold design, I love it!!

    Sure, there will be issues to be worked out, like minimizing friction, handling wear and optimizing weight, durability, etc… but I’ve never seen something quite like it, and it’s beautiful to boot!

    Don’t listen to the haters, they speak like the modern bike didn’t benefit from 100 years of continuous improvement to get to this point.

  30. John 3D says:

    Looks like a unicycle to me, not a bike

  31. Matt Hajzl says:

    no spokes? the rim will bend in the first trip.

  32. DoeJohn says:

    I love how there’s so many experts here! If only they knew what a concept means. Current bicycles also have tons of problems.

  33. Devnath Pillai says:

    It’s too much for a bike. Today when the modern bikes are much lighter and relatively easy to ride. These kind of contraptions can only give it a second glance and nothing more. It’s an interesting design and that’s where these kind of bikes are born and die.

  34. Bells Craig says:

    Okay so I have a couple of thoughts… One is that you would need two treads in tandem to be able to turn because you would need to slow one tread down and speed up the other one to get you to actually turn… Kind of like a tank… But I don’t know if they would be too close together for that to work… It’s clearly single looping thing is not going to allow you to turn… Many people have made that comment…

    Not many of them have made a suggestion as how to correct it though so there is my input on that.

    The second really big issue is that the tooth part is open… So if you ride through a puddle that’s got mud in it you’re now going to have mud in those teeth… And that’s going to jank everything up… So either those teeth need to be protected in some way… Or this isn’t going to work.

    I do love the people have innovative ideas… And I expect there to be problems with them… I like that people are saying with the problem is but I would like it more if they offered up suggestions… Yes of course this is not necessarily very practical but that doesn’t mean that it’s not beautiful and that somebody might want it just for the beauty… So we need to fix the problems 🤣

    Also if this tire is not inflatable… Then this could be the first step in a concept bike that would be able to survive through the apocalypse… So some preppers might want it if he can figure out how to solve the problems…

    And that might be easier to do than we think? I don’t know 🤷🏼‍♀️

    One of the thoughts that I had though was that there’s no reason why the chain has to go up in the middle… It literally could just be flat across the ground the entire way I think? Then it really would be more like a tank bike.

    But it might also mean that it’s able to go up stairs then…

    I do think that it’s a fascinating concept and I do think that it’s a beautiful piece of art. Not everything has to actually be functional that could just be something that triggers other innovative ideas 💜

  35. Jerry says:

    Cool concept art, that’s all.
    The guy can’t think of any deal breakers?
    You can’t steer.
    It will be extremely inefficient and clunky and heavy.
    Good luck with that.

  36. Darren says:

    I love uneducated comments, riding a bicycle or motorcycle requires very little steering movement , more so at high speeds as you use weight shift to create a turn , on the 3D print you can see the front steering headsets , the cogged single belt with a the tyre on will have plenty of left and right play naturally if the links are floating with some sort of rubber joint and the tension will be kept no different to an aux belt on a car , which is just a simple set spring resistance , the idea is genius and I think with the new electric driven bikes , this will control the excessive torque the motors provide and also create stable motor resistant braking on both wheels

  37. Soda says:

    The bicycle is one of those design classics that fundamentally hasnt changed in well over a century. Why? Simple… it hasnt needed to. If it aint broke…

  38. Lily says:

    There is another obvious flaw that I haven’t seen pointed out. The dips in the center will cause rubbing that will wear the tire out super quickly. And that is something that cannot be avoided since the entire bike relies on tension to function in the most rudimentary sense.

    This is ontop of the fact that turning will not work as you cannot counter steer this and the steering will cause a kink in the tire.

  39. The real Paul McCartney says:

    Lmao this is the worst looking “bicycle” I’ve ever seen

  40. Pleiades says:

    Brilliant idea. The usual negative blustering is to be expected from those lesser beings who’ve never designed anything worthwhile in their lives (& never will).

  41. Bretware says:

    There’s so much friction everywhere you wouldn’t be able to pedal…

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