Diwheels are just about the rarest and strangest vehicles around (or usually, not around). Amazingly enough, a friend of mine owns a real, functional, motorized diwheel. No…really! “Ezekiel’s Wheel,” which appears above, was built by some backwoods Ozark engineer a few years back, and uses a small industrial engine for power. For the uneducated, diwheels are totally nutso vehicles with two wheels sharing one axle centerline. Steering is accomplished by varying the amount of power to each wheel, usually through a set of levers in the the cockpit, like a tank or a ZTR lawmower. The simultaneously most fun and most alarming thing about a diwheel is gerbilling, which is the diwheel’s impractical but hoontastic willingness to swing the cockpit back and forth under throttle and braking, rather than staying put and using all that torque to drive the wheels. Braking is problematic, because locking up the brakes doesn’t stop the wheels any quicker, it just causes the passengers tumble forward along with the machine. Imagine how a demon-possessed Ferris wheel car would behave in a Stephen King novel, and you’ll have the idea. Even moderate grades should be avoided at all costs. Thus, diwheels are pretty much useless for anything other than making nifty noises, causing passengers to gasp in fear and surprise, and eliciting unrestrained giggling from bystanders, as proven in this awesome but tiny video clip from Douglas Self’s web page on the subject. For more information than you knew existed, or thought could exist about diwheels, jump on over to his site and read more.
This is the first of several “best of” articles from Indusurreal.com, a blog I authored from June 2005 through August 2006. I think I had maybe four regular readers. After 15 months, I was running out of material and it was obviously never going to go viral, so I closed up shop and took some time off before moving on to my current, more bike-centric blog, Tanshanomi’s Snap Judgments. Indusurreal was focused (much like Hooniverse) on the sort of unique, intensely personal vehicular creations that take shape in back alley sheds and street-corner mechanic’s bays. Some are hidden diamonds, others are the mold that grows on the underside of our technological age. But each of the peculiar creations I profiled had one startling quality in common — they exist(ed). In each case, someone’s vision was turned into a real, nuts-and-bolts vehicle, often in the face of obvious economic infeasibility, overwhelming mechanical impracticality, limited skills and tools, or just a remarkable lack of common sense. While my comments often poked good-natured fun at some homegrown fabricator’s outrageousness, Indusurreal was never intended to be snarky or ridicule anyone. Some of the vehicles had a Frankenstein-like quality, and a fair number of them were of questionable roadworthiness. However, my fascination with these strange vehicles is mingled with a real fondness for off-the-wall monstrosities, and even a bit of admiration of their owners’ individuality, tenacity and determination. Some have demonstrated truly amazing construction skills in answering a question that I’m amazed someone asked. They certainly made my life more interesting, and deserve to be shared with the Hoonitics here. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll meet more of them.