Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When is a motorcycle not a motorcycle? Dalniks.

The future we somehow missed..The Dalnik

Via: hedonia
"The term "dalnik" is unknown to most people, but they are a fascinating group of cabin motorcycles that have been constructed for the past 75 years, mostly in eastern Europe.(see the full Czech "Bohemiamobil" page here) Their design brief is a sensible one: a hybrid of motorcycle and automobile, with the virtues of both (at least in theory). The "golden age" of dalniks was during the 1950s and '60s, and the former Czechoslovakia was its center. These vehicles almost always seated two in tandem, with a motorcycle engine mounted behind the passenger, and a streamlined body around them. Some had openable flaps for the feet of the driver, when at rest, others used outrigger wheels to prevent falling over when stopped. A very few experimented with gyroscopic stabilizers.

The man one might consider to be the father of dalniks was Jan Anderle, a brilliant engineer with the Czech aircraft factory Aero. He built his first cabin motorcycle in the late 1930s, and over the years he created many more. His idea of building your own inexpensive two-wheeled car proved to be very popular with other Eastern European handymen after WW2, and many more experimental models were made. Anderle and his wife escaped to the West after the partitioning of Eastern Europe, but his wife persuaded him to return. Unfortunately, after they got back, he was arrested for treason and forced to work in the state uranium mines for the next 15 years. He spent much of the rest of his life in poverty and died in obscurity in 1982. Still, his influence over the vehicle type whose name he coined was immesurable.

The "Bat Dalnik" (above) This amazing vehicle from 1959 is sculpted in such a way that it looks more like a jet-powered auto than a motorcycle with a body. It had a 4-cylinder, 1200cc engine and took 5,000 hours of its creator's time; he had hoped to put it into production. The series of photos shows its development from wire forms to finished product.
This remarkable dalnik (above) was made by Czech mechanical genius Karel Horak, in 1966. It presents a very tidy and well thought out appearance. The outrigger stabilizer wheels retract into the body when underway. Horak used to commute to work in his dalnik and carry his wife and daughter in the back seat on weekends. He also designed and built his own desmodromic motorcycle engines, and worked on the development of an ingenious contra-rotating, meshed-rotor helicopter in the 1950s.

Peraves new Monotrace

Dalniks are still being made today! The Swiss company Peraves makes something called the Ecomobile (below). Powered by a 4-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine, this is probably the most sophisticated 2-wheeled vehicle ever sold to the public. They seat two in good comfort, contain a full roll-cage and are incredibly fast and manouverable. They cost about $60,000 and require a training course to operate properly. According to owners, they are the closest thing to flying that can be achieved on land. Jan Anderle was rediscovered by the Ecomobile company a year or two before his death, and he acted as a design consultant to them. He must've gained some satisfaction from seeing his work carried on into the 21st century."
The Ecomobile


Rabbit_Fighter said...

The gyroscopic balancer in this robot allows it to stop in place on a bicycle without tipping over. I wonder what a similar mechanism in a two wheeld car might accomplish. Perhaps it would eliminate the need for landing gear? Make them safer?


s.a. said...

Agreed..I'll have more posts coming soon about the still virtually unused concept of gyroscopic balanced two wheelers..there is still so much to learn on the subject, I cannot but think they would help reduce accidents and improve stability.

More on the murata boy:

punkwrench said...

While out on a group ride w/ a handful of sportbikes, we passed an Ecomobile going the other way in the twisties. The owner was waving to us and grinning like an idiot.

Later, while we were sitting at a gas station getting some drinks, the Eco rolls by and stops at the stoplight. it rolls to a stop, and then "vvrrwhirrp" the landing gear comes down automatically at the last second. It was a pretty cool machine to see in operation.

I've been dreaming of building something like this to commute on in most weather. Its really all most commuters need... although i was thinking more of a "driven-from-the-sidecar" 3-wheel deal. Like this, with bodywork:


Only thing that scares me w/ these is getting t-boned, and instead of being thrown from a bike, getting crumpled up with it...

Anonymous said...

How in the world could Jim Bede's
enclosed cycles from the 60's be
omitted from this blog. As far
as I know his were the only models
ever to make commercial production!

C. R. Kuhns said...

FYI: Bede's Lite Star wheels never retracted. It also had structural problems.

Additionally, the Monotracer is now in production.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty excited on the launching of Peraves Monotrace. The invention of this was really spectacular knowing that this motorcycle is a Ecomobile one.