Shark Wheel

Shark Wheel: Reinventing the Wheel

Illustration: mark thomas

After 5,500 years, David Patrick claims to have improved on our greatest invention – by turning it into a square
David Patrick, 51

David Patrick, 51
sharkwheel.com

The Ideas Man

David Patrick, 51

While working in his usual field of rotors and turbines, the Californian inventor stumbled upon a new shape of wheel that rolled smoother, faster and provided more grip.

Teaming up with former-tennis-pro-turned-businessman Zack Fleishman, he raised almost $80,000 on Kickstarter before walking away from entrepreneurial reality show Shark Tank – the US’ own Dragons’ Den – in 2015 with another $225,000. The Shark Wheel had scored its first bite.

 

A regular, thin wheel will carve into soft surfaces. The Shark Wheel undulates over a larger surface area. The new wheel has a helical shape with the properties of both a cube and a circle

© Shark Wheel // YouTube

THE RED BULLETIN: What is the Shark Wheel?

DAVID PATRICK: There are two types of wheel: one has little friction and goes fast; the other has a lot of grip, but is slow. Ours is fast and grippy. It moves in a sine wave, like how a fish moves its tail. You push less with your foot, because it rolls forever, and when loaded up with grip it grabs hard. If you hit a speed bump with both front wheels of a car, you feel the full shock, but taken at an angle it’s far gentler. Our wheels do the same, always approaching at an angle. The number-one concern of a skateboarder is if you hit a rock, you die. Our wheel kicks it out of the way or goes right over it.

How did you get the idea?

We came up with the shape while we were developing a propeller. One day, this part fell onto the floor and rolled. Spotting its potential, we turned it into a wheel to get a patent on the design. Skateboarding was a great market to go into, because people buy just wheels; I didn’t have to do a deal with a stroller company and convince them.

Great shot of 70mm, 80a Mako formula from @ratedr4raul #freeriding #picoftheday #shredded #longboarding

A post shared by Shark Wheel (@sharkwheel) on

Has it been a success?

Initially, the pro longboarding industry viewed us as a gimmick and we were abused on social media as a joke. So we sent wheels to all those who hated us; every single one gave us a glowing review. Then we got in touch with some pro riders, who helped us develop them. Now, we’ve won some big contests, like the 24-hour Ultraskate in Miami. We know we’re a long-distance wheel and we roll great, so we ended up winning. Now, we’re making a wheel for the professional market.

“Ever pushed a grocery cart with a fluttering wheel? Our wheels never do that”

Does it have any other uses?

Being a wheel, there ought to be an infinite number, though not on anything that leans [due to its undulating shape]. There are industries we’re just going to crush. Number one is castors, like you see on a hospital trolley. Ever pushed a grocery cart with a fluttering wheel? Our wheels never do that. The second is agriculture. Tractor wheels dig ruts and slip; ours bite their way out like a snake moving through the grass.

The adventure begins with #leftshark on #sharkwheels 🔥 @camsdope

A post shared by Shark Wheel (@sharkwheel) on

Would it benefit cars?

We were asked to develop a prototype for a military Hummer: the wheel would dig its way through sand and also be crazy-smooth on the highway. But to make a car tyre you have to go through the Department of Transportation, which is so expensive I can’t imagine us undertaking that. Golf carts, on the other hand – we’re perfect for those. It’s being prototyped right now.

How else does the Shark Wheel beat the regular kind?

In water, our wheels are crazy good – they act like propellers. Whether it’s a pleasure craft or a bicycle that goes on the water, we want to do an amphibious vehicle. That would be fun.

Read more
10 2016 The Red Bulletin

Next story