• Oct 2nd 2006 at 4:21PM
  • 9
The most visually inspiring vehicle at NextFest was a motorcycle-like, disk-shaped contraption with a single, concentric outer wheel called the Wheelsurf. I say inspiring because sitting on one undeniably transports you into an Isaac Asimov story.

The Wheelsurf's single wheel is powered by a 31 cc, 1.5 horsepower Honda 4-stroke through a centrifugal clutch. Tito Lucas Ott, the vehicle's designer and manufacturer, said that the engine will continue running even if you find yourself upside-down.

The inner structure consists of the vehicle's frame which is essentially a circular tube to which the body and engine are mounted. The concentric outer structure is a 70-inch steel wheel with a solid rubber tire. The vehicle tops out at 20 mph, but they say the next version will hit 30 mph.

They weren't letting people test drive the vehicles, however, they did provide a demonstration. First of all, you've got to wonder just how you keep yourself right-side-up or more specifically, how you keep your body from riding up to the top of the circular frame. You might guess that underneath the vehicle's skin there exists a complex system of gyroscopes, but you'd be way off. Other than the gyroscopic action of the outer wheel, there are no gizmos to keep you from falling over or turning upside-down. It's basically a skill game. Tito says you need to lean forward during acceleration and back while braking. He admits it takes some getting used to.

There's also a pretty steep learning curve attached to steering. Yes, there are hand grips, but the handle bar is fixed and only offers controls for throttle and braking. From what I could tell, turning on a Wheelsurf is basically a subtle combination of throttle and weight distribution.

Tito doesn't pretend that the Wheelsurf will replace cars or motorcycles or even mopeds. When I asked him what kind of gas mileage the vehicle gets he simply said, "I don't know. We were never concerned with that. It's for recreational purposes."

If you want one of these vehicles, you should put your order in now as there's a three month lead time. Oh, and it'll set you back $4,500. Wheelsurf's website seems to have some old information, but check it out for more pictures and ordering information - www.wheelsurf.nl.

Make the jump for more pictures.

With all due respect, we were lucky that Tito had some problems with one of the Wheelsurfs as it gave us a chance to look under the skin.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      nearly 7 grand ...aside from r&d this thing could be built in a local shop or garage with a pipe bender fiberglass ect,ect..just from looking at the pix this thing should cost only a grand
      • 9 Years Ago
      I remember seeing a 'vehicle' of this design in a 4th of July parade about twelve years ago. It was powered by a small gas engine also, looked just like this but was a 1950's or 1960's design. I can't remember what it was called. An interesting idea that was bound to get recycled (no pun inteded).
      • 8 Months Ago
      hola no hablo ingles,y estoy interesado en la wheelsurf,soy de caracas Venezuela,mi compañia es www.zanqueros.com me puedes escribir si la tienes a info@zanqueros.com
      • 8 Months Ago
      Looks like very very similar construction to the wheelman two-wheel skateboard. Same engine, similar axle-less wheel, same fiberglass shell, same centrifugal clutch.

      A wheelsurf type vehicle was also featured in Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo in 2004
      • 9 Years Ago
      OK, after a quick google, I can add that these "was a motorcycle-like, disk-shaped contraptions" are called monocycles. Here's a link to a good web page about their history. Enjoy!


      I particularly like the one with the propeller!
      • 8 Months Ago
      That thing reminds me of that episode of South Park where Mr. Garrison invents a vehicle like that called "It". This one's controls look a lot more comfortable to use though
      • 8 Months Ago

      • 8 Months Ago
      check my new adverts on you tube...

      • 8 Months Ago
      As you can find out on the website earlier mentioned, the concept of a motorized monowheel already excists for years.

      But I do like to rectify some things. The fist concept of this version, which we call the Wheelsurf, is found years ago by the Brazilian engineer, Tito Lucas Ott.

      Now the Wheelsurf is in Dutch hands. And also the people on the Nextfest, were the owners of the company and the redesigner. I think Derrick Y. Noh is mistaken by the name of the first inventor and the people who are now responsible for the Wheelsurf.
      Along with the years the Wheelsurf kept evolving.
      As every good googler can find out, the Wheelsurf used to look differently.

      The designer, Patricia Vernooij, worked closely with an engineering team to improve comfort, safety and ofcourse the looks. The version shown on Nextfest is just a few months old.

      Ofcourse we must give Tito the credits for developing the whole Wheelsurf concept. But I'd like to point out that, what the Wheelsurf is today, is all there thanks to the Wheelsurf-team based in the Netherlands.
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