Two prototypes, some models, and several sketches were made, and yet, the vehicle never really made it to actual reality, even if it was patented.
What is the Dynasphere? A classic car of the past, that was aimed at the future, but remained in the past as an interesting relic because it was too ahead of its time… Confused? Well, look at the Dynasphere and the confusion evaporates, or condenses or basically takes you back to the good ol’ days when you took a spare tire and rolled it down streets with a stick, as in hoop rolled.
Basically, it’s a vehicle with not only one wheel, it is only one wheel, period. The idea was to seat one, or two, or even more (in a bus format), with one gigantic wheel doing all the hard work, as in produce the motion.
Two prototypes, some models, and several sketches were made, and yet, the vehicle never really made it to actual reality, even if it was patented and such. Of course, the idea of a monowheel (and such crazy cars) was not new and was in fact what the unicycle was based on.
That said; shucking two or four small wheels in favor of a large one does not always a comfortable ride make, and if we’ve learned anything from the silly childhood game of hoop rolling, is that the tire moves along fine, but it cannot brake to save its own hide.
Here’s what gave birth to the Dynasphere, and what eventually killed it…
The Da Vinci Connection
In 1930, Dr. John Archibald Purves, a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh made and patented a monowheel vehicle that he built, inspired from a Leonardo Da Vinci sketch.
Of course, this is not the first time someone got Vincinspired and made a monowheel. Back in 1869, French national Rousseau of Marseilles built the very first monowheel vehicle in which the rider sat inside the wheel, steered it by shifting their weight in the direction needed, and basically left their safety to chance. The big wheel remained in the driver’s line of sight at all times, and if that were not enough, sudden braking would cause the rider to roll along with the wheel. Much like a gerbil running on its wheel.
Two prototypes were made, a larger one that had a gasoline motor that made 2.5-6 horses, depending on which conflicting report you’d believe, and let the thousand-pound wheel run at exhilarating speeds of 25-30 mph, whilst the smaller one ran on electricity. Dr. Purves was nothing if forward-thinking. Later, in 1935, he sketched a bus version of the Dynasphere as well, this one to hold more passengers, on the same, singular wheel.
Let’s Talk Mechanics Of The Monowheel
The driver’s seat as well as the motor and the controls were a singular unit and came mounted on the interior rails of the monowheel with smaller wheels. When powered up, this unit would try and climb up the spherical rails, causing the larger one to start to roll forward. Steering was crude, and not much advanced from the French prototype of before.
This means the driver still had to throw their weight around, quite literally, in a bid to lean the wheel in the direction they wanted to go, lest gravity and other laws of motions take their course. Purves later envisaged that future models could come with gears to shift the inner unit in a lean to turn the wheel in a better manner.
In fact in another model made in 1932, a ten-hoop one, Purves added such “tipping” gears. Dr. Purves also created the Dynasphere 8, a beach vehicle that could seat eight passengers though the sand in the eyes may have been a bit of a turn-off for hopeful buyers of the Dynasphere.
So, Why Are We Using Dynaspheres?
Unlike the French design, the Dynasphere had a lattice wheel, and when the outer wheel rotated, the driver’s vision was virtually unobstructed.
What the issue with this vehicle was the braking. Brake hard enough, and the passengers rolled around like gerbils, and steering, even with gears, was rudimentary at best. Purves initially claimed that the Dynasphere could not be tipped over, but he was proven wrong, literally by himself. He also claimed that much like a kid’s toy, in case the Dynasphere did tip over, it would bob right back up.