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Monowheel Mayhem

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I don't think your insurance will cover what that thing did to your neighborhood.

So you've decided for your character's Cool Car to be a motorcycle. But aren't hogs overdone by Hells Angel lookalikes and feeling that the Japanese bikes are too generic? Then lucky for you there exists a type of motorbike called the Monowheel that is essentially a motorcycle IN A GIANT WHEEL.

This type of vehicle is typically used in futuristic or fantasy settings despite it having pedal versions in the late 19th century.

The issue of fast acceleration and sudden braking leaving the rider spinning inside the wheel itself is usually ignored or handwaved.

A Sub-Trope of One-Wheeled Wonder. Compare Rolling Attack, which describes a living (or robotic) being temporarily adopting a similarly rolling form for aggressive purposes.


    open/close all folders 

  • In a 2007 television commercial produced for the drink brand Capri Sun, a boy and a girl are both riding in variants which appear to be manufactured vehicles made of metal and fiberglass (up to the point where they are levitated into the air by a CGI effect).

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Amazing 3 features three agents from outer space who travel in a tire-shaped vehicle called the Big Wheel, which can travel at enormous speeds on both land and water (and, with modifications, through the air).
  • In the OVA series Dirty Pair Flash Mission 3, a young female assassin called Monica drives a Red Futuristic Monowheel.
  • Some of these eventually show up in the Gantz manga. Although their users tend to die just as horribly as everyone else.
  • One chapter of Kochikame has a mad scientist creating cars of the future with unimpressed renewable energy sources. Ryotsu is impressed of the monowheel and goes for a ride, until the wheel goes out of control when he stops at the red light and knocking him unconscious.
  • Many mobile suits of the Zansacre Empire in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam use Einrads, giant versions that they stand in. They can also fly.
  • Jean from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water uses one. It even appears in the opening, at least in the French dub.
  • Symphogear G: Shirabe can pull out a bladed monowheel as part of her Extreme Σ-style Lunar Eclipse attack.
  • In the animated adaptation of Venus Wars, one-wheeled motorcycles are used both in bloodsport and combat.
  • Jack Atlas in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has one of these as his D-Wheel, called the Wheel of Fortune (Phoenix Whirlwind in the dub). A D-Wheel fit for a former king.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animation 
  • Ray Steam in Steamboy builds a pedal/steam-powered one. Notable in that the aforementioned spinning-within-the-wheel problem actually happens.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The aliens in Battleship use these against land-based targets (and the protagonist's pesky destroyer). They can smash through just about anything and have a whip to hit anything they miss on the first pass.
  • Agents Jay and Kay break a couple of these out when their car is destroyed in Men in Black 3. Jay has trouble with the whole spinning inside the wheel thing at first.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Revenge of the Sith, General Grievous tries to escape Obi-Wan by riding a Wheel Bike that also has some legs for rough terrain.
    • Droidekas in all three prequels fold up into monowheels to maneuver around. The Clone Wars animated movie took advantage of the lack of shields in this mode to render them into scrap.
    • A Transformers Crossover figure. They noticed that the Wheel Bike looked like Grievous enough to make a figure of Grievous that transforms into it.

  • There's a very cool one of these in Iain M. Banks's Against a Dark Background.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. While traveling on the Moon, the vehicle the protagonists are in is attacked by a giant Monowheel. It has gunpods sticking out from each hub.
  • Stanisław Lem's novel Eden features motorized variants of the monowheel.
  • In Eric, a treadmill being used as a punishment in Hell is pulled off its axis by the Luggage, and briefly becomes a sapient-pearwood-powered engine of destruction before falling to bits.
  • There's a living example in E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series novel Galactic Patrol. The Wheelmen of Aldebaran I are literally wheel-shaped aliens, with their heads where the hub would be, and dozen of arms with capable looking hands. They move around by rolling like wheels.
    • The Lensman series also features living diwheels (the scarcely-less-impractical extension of the idea to two wheels, side-by-side on a common axle) in the form of the Zabriskan fontema, a primitive life-form that lives directly off solar energy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chouriki Sentai Ohranger had the Giant Roller (dubbed the Defender Wheel in Power Rangers Zeo), although it was generally used as an attack rather than transport.
    • There was also Tackle Boy (the Warrior Wheel in Zeo), a large wheel that was a Transforming Mecha (themed after a football player for some reason); it would arrive on the battlefield in wheel form (typically being shot out of a cannon from the mecha hangar), then transform to robot mode; for the finisher, it would transform back to wheel mode, and the OhBlocker/Super Zeo Megazord would roll it towards the target; once it got close, it would transform back to robot form, turn into energy and tackle the monster, causing the monster to explode.
  • The toyline for Power Rangers Lost Galaxy gave the Magna Defender, who had no transportation in the show, a vehicle like this dubbed the Magna Rotator. (It never appeared in the show.)
  • One episode of Scrapheap Challenge had the two teams constructing monowheels and then racing them around a test track.
  • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger/Power Rangers S.P.D., Dekabreak/Omega Ranger rode a futuristic unicycle into battle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: Dungeon #1 Caliban has a magikal construct called a "Warwheel" that ranges from 10-24 feet high. It takes the shape of a wheel with conical spikes coming out of the tread with a large eye and a long tentacle in the hub on each side.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Secrets of the Surface World. In the Weird Science chapter, the example of the creation process is a Wheelbike: a single large wheel running around the outside of a gyroscopically balanced cockpit and engine.
  • Rifts has a suit of Power Armor that can become one of these.
  • The fourth edition of Shadowrun features a monowheel called the Horizon-Doble Revolution. It is also interesting because it solves the "how are you supposed to look around the giant wheel?" problem by means of having sensors that link to an Augmented Reality "X-ray vision" display.
  • Tales of the Space Princess RPG. The War Wheel is a large wheel-shaped vehicle with an cockpit in its hub. It is heavily armored, can traverse almost any terrain and has two gunners in bubble turrets, each firing either 2 laser cannon or 4 phasic rifles.
  • In Warhammer, and its sequel game Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the Skaven have the Doomwheel, a weird gunned-up, blade-covered wheel powered by hundreds of running rats. The race has also developed the Doom-Flayer, a much smaller motorised version of the Doomwheel crewed by a pair of Skaven and designed to be used in the close confines of tunnel fighting.
  • The trial Black Legion army list for Epic: Armageddon (the 4th Edition of the Warhammer 40,000 Epic scale game system) introduced the Death Wheel, a monowheel siege engine designed to smash through the walls of enemy fortifications before unleashing its formidable weaponry to slaughter the troops within.

  • G.I. Joe had the Cobra Buzz Boar, a digging vehicle that moved on a giant, toothed wheel.
  • LEGO Monkie Kid: Nezha's Fire Ring is a futuristic rocket-powered car built inside a giant golden wheel that itself has rocket thrusters.

    Video Games 
  • In Frogwares' 80 Days it's possible to acquire and ride around in one of these.
  • You can fight some of this in Air Force Delta Strike.
  • Borderlands 3 features the Cyclone, a Promethean speedster monowheel that can feature sawblades or a hover loop instead of a normal tread.
  • In Emperor: Battle for Dune, the Harkonnens have the Buzzsaw, which specializes in ruining Spice fields or slicing through infantry formations. No explanation on how the blades stay sharp after traveling over rocks, though.
  • The G.I. Joe Nintendo video game featured vehicles that could be stolen from Cobra armories by any of the playable Joes. One of the most commonly appearing vehicles was the Buzz Boar, a giant sawblade-based monowheel with an enclosed pilot's capsule in the middle and weapons on its outer shell. Notable for being able to scale walls and ceilings with ease, and for firing spiraling energy shots that traveled around it in an expanding orbit instead of something like missiles, since it moves easily in two dimensions and needs weapons that would be able to do the same.
  • In Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, Ash's main weapon/vehicle is a bladed buzzsaw that once belonged to his late father. It comes with a jetpack that he can use to fly and can carve up enemies. Some levels however require him to ditch the vehicle and continue on foot.
  • Kirby: The recurring Wheelie enemy takes the form of a sentient tire that tries to attack Kirby. In Kirby Super Star, Kirby can ride on top of one if he summons it as a Helper. There's also the Grand Wheelie, an enormous Wheelie that's about twice as tall as Kirby and serves as a recurring Mini-Boss.
  • Mega Man 4 has the first variant of the "Roader" enemy. The roaders that appear in later games look less like a monowheel, though.
  • Pokémon:
    • Venipede's evolution, Whirlipede, is a cocoon Pokémon that resembles a wheel.
    • Iron Treads, the future Paradox form of Donphan, is what happens if you emphasized Donphan's wheel-like attributes to the extreme.
  • In the Nichibutsu Arcade Game Radical Radial, the player character is basically a weaponized monowheel.
  • Minori's Ultimate Ninja Art in Senran Kagura is the "Strawberry Rainbow Slide", which has her mowing down enemies while riding inside a cake covered in strawberries. It's basically a giant, edible, murderous hamster wheel with strawberry-flavored spikes.
  • This is one of the Extreme Gears you can use in Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Koensayr family of vehicles includes monowheels with neon lights.
  • One of the enemies in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary is essentially this.
  • This is one of the party's primary means of transportion in Wild ARMs 5. In the penultimate battle, Dean turns it into a weapon. MONOWHEEL TO THE FACE, BITCH.
  • The Nazis make use of a version of this in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, fitting their Stupid Jetpack Hitler aesthetics.
  • In World of Warcraft there are two monowheel mounts from Mechagon, one a drop from a vignette mob and the other from a meta-achievement.

  • Sequential Art solution: 1 running wheel with a crazy humanoid squirrel still inside + 2 shots at the construction holding it in place = 1 improvised light tank.
  • The Martian tank in The Stormrunners runs on a huge 45 degree wheel. It's only seen at the beginning of the story because it soon gets blown up.

    Web Original 
  • Among the numerous Starfish Aliens on the planet Polinices are the Rotigrada, ringlike colonial organisms that move by rotating themselves along the seafloor like wheels.

    Western Animation 
  • The Clock King drives a monowheel in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!".
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, the Incursions use massive monowheel tanks to supplement their spacecraft when subduing a planet.
  • The Cattanooga Cats: Autocat chases Motormouse with a giant spiked tire in "Wild Wheelin' Wheels". It goes as badly as expected when Motormouse leads Autocat aboard a freighter.
  • Chaotic:
    • The Mowercycle is this plus some metal teeth that can either be used to climb vertical surfaces and even run across cavern ceilings or be used to vandalize your enemy's city by powersawing through their stone statues.
    • A set release of the card game introduced the Bi-Mowercycle. As you can tell it has two wheels to allow more city wrecking fun. Although this may disqualify it for being a monowheel of doom.
  • Pre-dating Star Wars: Episode III by 20 years, Droids features a monowheel.
  • In George of the Jungle, the Tom Slick short "The Apple-Less Indian 500" involved a monowheel race in the Nevada desert.
  • In Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5, The Red Sentient Kytren uses The Vyirex which is a gyroscope monowheel (hence the name).
  • The Justice League story "The Savage Time" has Nazis using the War Wheel from the Blackhawks' example.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Tenzin's version of the air scooter is a big air monowheel.
  • The South Park episode "The Entity" has Mr. Garrison invent "IT", a high speed, super-efficient monowheel. Despite the control system requiring a joystick up the ass and in the mouth, it's still wildly popular, as "it's still better than dealing with the airlines". One can only guess how popular it would have been if they'd figured out that you don't need to use the anal/oral joysticks to move — there are alternative controls on the IT, too. The episode is making fun of the not-yet-released Segway, which at the time was a closely guarded secret with lots and lots of wild public speculation.
  • Similarly, the Big Wheel appears in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • Colonel Dirk Courage, The Hero from Spiral Zone, drove the Rimfire, a monowheel with a BFG on top.
  • A futuristic version of the monowheel is shown in a few episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003).
  • In Wakfu, Nox's Mooks ride such monowheeled vehicles to battle, looking like giant clockwork cogwheels.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


General Grievous' Vehicle

General Grievous attempts to escape from Obi-Wan with a wheel cycle, as the latter gives chase.

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