The Wear and Tear — yes, that’s really what it was called — Black Hole was a unique hubless wheel/fork system designed for time-trial, track and triathlon racing that was brought to market in the mid-nineties.
As far as I understand, the rim has a track embedded into its inner circumference. This runs on three track rollers that are fitted along the bottom edge of the inner supporting structure. An additional roller sits at the top of this structure to ensure the rim stays aligned.
The Wear and Tear Black Hole was a hubless wheel/fork system
As you can imagine, the primary benefit of this design was said to be the aerodynamics — as the inner portion of the wheel is static, it was claimed to produce less turbulence than a regular wheel, thus reducing drag.
Ride reports from the time claim that the ride quality of the Black Hole was remarkably normal, though was said to be incredibly noisy, with the whole structure reverberating and amplifying vibrations on rough surfaces.
Performance wise, the system was claimed to have roughly the same characteristics of a disc wheel.
The pricing at the time appears to have been in the $1,200 to $1,400 range, which would have been a whole lot of money back when it was originally launched.
In 1994, the wheel was ridden by Bryan Walton on the track in the 4,000m individual pursuit and it was ridden to further success at Kona, setting a number of split time records there.
Performance needn’t have mattered though as, according to the interview, less than 100 units were sold and the wheel system was banned by the UCI not long after launch.
A beautiful prototype
This particular example is attached to an absolutely beautiful prototype Otro Pentax time trial bike.
According to the bike’s eBay listing, the bike was ridden by team ONCE around 1994, though it was never used in competition as the manager of the team was apparently concerned about the safety of the system.
I love the poo-brown finish of the bike
The build quality of the frame is absolutely amazing, with a beautiful aerofoil brazed in behind the headtube. I’m also a big fan of the poo-brown shade of the finish on the bike.
The build is also delightfully of the era, with a full Mavic groupset, including finishing kit. The super wide bullhorn bars are also a nice touch.
Although the connection isn’t totally clear, the bike appears to be owned by whoever runs PerfectGeometry, which has to be one of my new favourite Instagram accounts.
This particular bike is just one example from what must be one of the most remarkable collections of retro bicycles that I’ve ever come across.
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork, fixie-botherer, tandem-evangelist, hill-climbing try hard, and thinks nothing of taking on a daft challenge for the BikeRadar YouTube channel. With a near encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling tech — from the most esoteric niche nonsense to the most cutting edge modern kit — Jack takes pride in his ability to seek out tech and stories that would otherwise go unreported in the cycling media. Jack has been a Senior Staff Writer at BikeRadar for three years now and is currently testing an All-City Mr Pink as his long term test bike.