From the ‘crazy patent’ files…

Forget two-wheels, how about tracks?

CHINA’S motorcycle industry is an odd dichotomy  - while half the country’s manufacturers seem to turn out blatant copies of existing machines the other half seem obsessed with throwing out everything that’s familiar and exploring new avenues.

See if you can work out which camp this falls into…

We haven’t got much information apart from knowing this design was patented last week by Chang’an University. The ‘Rescue’ badging suggests it’s an idea for a bike for the emergency services. Perhaps mountain rescue? Of course, the term ‘bike’ (derived from bicycle, of course) isn’t quite right. After all, ‘bi-cycle’ means ‘two wheels’ and this has none. Or at least not in the conventional sense.

Nope, a single track does the job instead, albeit one that’s wrapped around what’s otherwise a fairly conventional bike, complete with forks and a normal swingarm. We can’t quite work out how turning the bars will effect that track – perhaps it’s flexible enough to allow a little bit of steering, with those extra guide runners under the bellypan putting it straight again before it reaches the drive wheel at the back. Or maybe not.

Actually, a quick Google for the term ‘tracked motorcycle’ reveals an array of black-and-white pictures of pre-war efforts to make similar devices, although clearly none of them was terribly influential. Funnily enough, steering was often cited as the reason for the failure of the earlier attempts. Who’d have thought?