The NuBike Is a Chain-Less Bicycle That Set Out To Reimagine Pedaling, to No Avail

NuBike 7 photos
Photo: Rodger Parker / YouTube Screenshot
We're all accustomed to how bikes work nowadays. It's a bit weird to imagine a different way of pedaling or biking as this is what we've always known as the standard. And for a good reason, biking with pedals and a chain system is the safest and most efficient way of using our energy to power a bicycle.
But Rodger Parker, an inventor from Los Angeles, thought otherwise. Rodger had worked all his life in production and postproduction. Selling his company 26 years after its inception, he decided to follow his inventing passion, and he started building underwater camera housings, several experimental aircraft, and products for airplanes. One of his inventions was the NuBike, a chain-less bicycle using aircraft techniques and materials.

So, what were the reasons that drove him to invent such a thing? First, Rodger says he saw riders struggling to fix a flat, especially since they had to deal with greasy chains. He saw riders walking out of hills with ripped clothing and broken chains. And the problem closest to his heart was his wife's knee injury caused by continued riding and pedaling throughout the years. Rodger was astonished to think that nobody had tried to find a better solution that would deal with these issues. That's why he sought to revolutionize cycling by creating a new machine.

Rodger then conceptualized an innovative way of pedaling by using near vertical movements instead of the rotating pedal stroke. He argues that using the mechanical advantages of leverage and gravity, combined with the rider's weight, increases the continuous force throughout the pedal stroke. He claims that straight-line pedaling, when compared to pedaling in a full circular motion, will reduce the excessive bending of the hips, knees, and ankles and prevent injuries, especially in the long term.

Photo: Rodger Parker / YouTube Screenshot
He started by drawing and then moved on to wood and plastic mock-ups. The first step was testing his designs by hiring a machinist and using aircraft-grade aluminum. He managed to get his plans to work mechanically but found that adapting them to fit the human anatomy wasn't easy. Another challenge was that axles were twisting into pretzels because of the significant power and torque distributed to the rear wheel. He improved the drive system and created the NuBike frame out of carbon fiber, optimizing it to accommodate the most popular off-the-shelf components such as brakes, wheels, dalles, etc.

After figuring these issues out and discovering a new metal used in military applications, he was finally able to create the NuBike V2 Road Bike.

With the carbon frame weighing less than 3 lbs. (1.36 kg), the assembled bike weighed around 18 lbs. (8.16 kg). If you have a flat tire or wish to transport the bike by car, it can be quickly taken apart by popping two levers and disconnecting the shifter cable. The bike also features a 4-speed transmission with the possibility of customizing your ratio. I'm not sure how the bike would perform if you decided to go hill bombing with it.

The NuBike seemed like a fabulous idea, at least on paper. Besides a few videos, all produced by Rodger and his team, I couldn't find any other information online. After listing so many benefits, you'd expect he would want to make his product as popular as possible. Even though it was created just a few years back, the NuBike website looks awfully outdated and uninviting. And I'm not a graphics expert, don't get me wrong, but that logo looks pretty uninspired.

Photo: Rodger Parker / YouTube Screenshot
Who knows, maybe the fabrication process or materials were too pricey, or he didn't have the right team supporting him. NuBike tried a 30-day funding round on Kickstarter in which they aimed to raise $347,000, quite an ambitious goal. Unfortunately, they only managed to raise $4,000, 1% of what they had planned. The project was a massive failure; I couldn't find any more news about it, not even on their official social media or website.

To conclude, maybe the people were so used to the traditional bike they weren't that open to new ideas. Or perhaps his claims weren't as accurate as he believed them to be. What's certain is that some things are better left as they are. Don't reinvent the wheel, or in this case, the bicycle.

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About the author: Mircea Mazuru
Mircea Mazuru profile photo

Starting out with a motorcycle permit just because he could get one two years earlier than a driver's license, Mircea keeps his passion for bikes (motor or no motor) alive to this day. His lifelong dream is to build his own custom camper van.
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