CRAZIEST Bicycle Wheel EVER Made: Wear and Tear Black Hole

wear and tear black hole wheel

Wear and Tear, manufacturer of the Black Hole Wheel, circa 1993 / 1994.

wear and tear black hole wheel

Paul Lew began racing triathlon in 1986, and in 1989, took an interest in working inside the bicycle industry. Like many inventors and boffins, aka very smart people, Paul didn’t know where to start to kick off his career, but a chance meeting with an interested investor saw the founding of Wear and Tear. The company was founded at the home of speed in the USA, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Wear and Tear Black Hole Video

Continued from Above:

Wear and Tear specialized in Dynamic Air Flow Engineering, and High Modulus Military Specification Carbon Fiber. Paul’s first design for the company to see production was the Black Hole Wheel / Fork combination, a hubless, spokeless front wheel design in 650c originally intended for use on the velodrome. Tubular tyres only.

wear and tear black hole wheel
The outer rim turns on four roller wheels

Manufacture of this radical wheel / fork combination began in around 1993. in 1994, Brian Walton, a former professional cyclist with 7-11 / Motorola / Saturn (yes, the car company), began working with Paul’s company and started racing this insane wheel in the 4,000 Metre pursuit. This line may need editing / fact check, we understand the wheel was raced by Brian at the 1994 World Track Cycling Championship to 3rd place in the 4,000 metre pursuit. The wheel was promptly banned and Brian’s record annulled?

wear and tear black hole wheel
Taken from a 2018 eBay auction, a Black Hole Wheel aboard a TT bike

Side note, this isn’t the first time the UCI has killed innovation. They did so many times in the 1990’s, killing amazing bike designs such as the Lotus, GT Superbike, Pinarello Sword, and more. Fast forward to 2021, well, the UCI has announced they’re getting into gravel with a world series of sorts. We expect this series will do well in Europe in the world of professional cycling, but don’t expect buy-in in the USA. To read more about Gravel Cyclist’s interactions with the UCI and USA Cycling, check out the articles below:

wear and tear black hole wheel
Narrow frontal profile

The Wear and Tear Black Hole Wheel also came to the attention of Jurgen Zach, a very prominent triathlete during the early 1990’s. He had set several bike split records at Ironman Kona, and was keen to roll the technology. We don’t know if Jurgen raced the wheel?, but after the UCI killed it, Wear and Tear pretty much closed their doors for business. Less than 100 of these wheels were made, hence, they are very rear and a look into a bygone time when innovation was rife.

wear and tear black hole wheel

Additional Photos

wear and tear black hole wheel
Wear and Tear branding, carbon on carbon
wear and tear black hole wheel
From the time of threaded steerer tubes
wear and tear black hole wheel
What the wind sees…

wear and tear black hole wheel

wear and tear black hole wheel

wear and tear black hole wheel

wear and tear black hole wheel
Original tubular glue from 1994
wear and tear black hole wheel
Pre-Ride Checklist
wear and tear black hole wheel
This roller wheel is adjustable vertically, to account for play, etc

wear and tear black hole wheel

wear and tear black hole wheel

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2 comments on “CRAZIEST Bicycle Wheel EVER Made: Wear and Tear Black Hole

  1. So JOM, when will you be running these wheels for gravel racing then? 😉

    Seriously though, do we have any idea yet on what stupid equipment regulations and bans the UCI has in mind? I’ll be surprised if they don’t cause carnage for both manufacturers and event organisers, but I suppose it’s possible they might manage not to destroy things this time. (It’d be a first if so.)

    1. Hi Stephen, I only see the UCI messing up things in Europe. Without buy-in from race promoters in the USA, which is the hotbed at the moment of gravel, I think their impact will be very small. Let’s hope so! With that said, I do expect to see “UCI compliant frame”, which in my mind, is pretty rubbish.

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