Vehicle: Bicycle: Wheel
Muscle Wire Bike   (+4, -3)  [vote for, against]
Full suspension.

Muscle wire is a relatively new substance, useful only in the way that in whatever form the muscle wire takes, when charged with an electrical current, it instantly reverts into the shape it was designed to stay in.

Now imagine an ordinary off-road bikes, with front suspension, maybe rear suspension, perhaps a spring under the seat, and a pen spring glued onto the top of the rider's cap if it makes him/her feels any better.

Now imagine that instead of ordinary bike wheels, which are made of aluminum or steel and fall out of true with regular use, two wheels, whose rims are made of thick bands of mucsle wire, bound tightly together, and instead of rigid spokes, spokes with light suspension in each. They would have regular tires, though: go for it, NASA.

When cruising down a flat street, the spokes are locked in place and the muscle wire is rigid, forming the shape of a normal wheel. When going down a stretch of broken cement, tree roots, and small mammals, though, the biker flips a switch which releases the tension in the spokes and makes the wheels rather suseptible to bending. This is good, though. The tires literally form their shape over whatever surface they're riding on. This allows for a ridiculously smooth ride. When the biker finds smooth road again he/she flips a switch sending a jolt of current through the wheels and activating a mechanism to lock the spokes again. Whereas regular suspension bikes give slack at the steering fork or under the seat, the muscle wire bike will give slack just below the axles.
-- jellydoughnut, Oct 11 2005

Also known as nitinol. Not that new.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 11 2005

Seemed new to me. The idea's new, though.
-- jellydoughnut, Oct 11 2005

Nitinol is thermally reactive, that I know. Is it electrically reactive as well, other than to the heat that a high current would exhibit?
-- bristolz, Oct 11 2005

I thought it was specifically reactive to current. Even low curent, I think.
-- jellydoughnut, Oct 11 2005

Just as an object lesson [jellydoughnut] let most of the air out of your tires (to make them conformational) and take a 5 km ride. Then pump them up to full pressure and do the ride again. You will note that you have to supply the energy to “de-conform” the wheels. Assuming your wheels didn’t totally collapse after a few turns, you might. (take those bumps like a man and keep your tires fully inflated, on your car too)
-- cjacks, Oct 11 2005

random, halfbakery