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Old 09-21-2010, 11:36 PM   #26 (permalink)
Bicycle Bob
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: N. Saskatchewan, CA
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Appliance White - '93 Geo Metro 4-Dr. Auto
Last 3: 42.35 mpg (US)

Stealth RV - '91 Chevy Sprint Base
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AFAIR, the only two wheels that were engineered rather than styled were the tension-spoked (bicycle) wheel, which was actually developed for the still unsuccessful aircraft of the mid-1800s. At higher loadings and smaller diameters, the spokes get thick enough to take compression loads, and the end fittings become useless weight.
In the 60s, the Minilite was designed as a superior alternative for sport and racing cars, with some actual calculations.
While unsprung weight is one of the biggest factors in ride and handling, the nature of wheels is almost unresponsive to fine-tuning of the structure. You need so much material for the hub and rim, almost anything can connect the two with reasonable success. These days, with FEA readily available, better wheels could probably be designed, but the performance increment would be easily overcome by BS and styling preferences. Cars are about image, not engineering goals. Nobody Needs fancy rims to drive around urban decay, but that is where you find them most often.
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