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Throughout the Dark Knight Trilogy the Bat pod is featured in numerous chases.

One part of the design that strikes me as being interesting is the wheels. They function exactly as the wheels on a normal bike would, but with a twist. They have the ability to roll sideways.

The clip below shows it in action:

This always seemed a little odd to me as their only purpose seems to be to allow a tighter turning circle which is already small on a bike anyway. (I also imagine they allow for very easy parallel parking).

My question is, is their function really justified given the extra complexity they add to the design? And is there any instance where they allow the rider to pull off some kind of "move" that would otherwise be impossible?

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  • Love how when the truck flips you can see the nitro from the flipper coming out.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:10
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    Because if he didn't have that, he would have need d to pull something from his utility belt to solve the problem, and that would just be silly.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 12:08

3 Answers 3

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Tighter, more stable turning / braking, and lateral movement.

In the clip you linked to, Batman quickly turns the Batpod sideways to brake. On a regular motorcycle this would cause skidding and/or possibly a crash. If the tires grip too much, the motorcycle would tip forward into the turn. If they don't grip enough, or if the driver loses his balance, the motorcycle would skid and get "layed down."

The Batpod's sideways-rotating wheels prevent a skid because the tires don't lock. In addition, the motor that controls the sideways-rotation appears to be able to adjust the rotation as necessary to bring the vehicle to a stop in stable way. If the rotation was not quick enough, it wouldn't prevent the bike from tipping into the turn. If the rotation was too quick, it wouldn't stop the bike quickly enough. We can assume there's a computerized stability system that controls this.

Also remember that the Batpod has fixed, front-facing cannons. The only way they can be aimed is by changing the direction of the Batpod. Lateral movement would making aiming significantly easier. Without lateral movement it would be quite cumbersome, I'd imagine.

The added complexity is justified, for Batman.

I'm going to speculate that the Batpod was not part of the original design of the Tumbler. Lucius Fox says the Tumbler was built as bridging vehicle for the military. Military vehicles don't typically have escape pods, so it's doubtful that an escape pod would have been part of the requirements for the Tumbler.

So I would suggest that the Batpod was added later by Fox. It adds complexity to the Tumbler, and is quite complex in itself compared to a standard motorcycle. For example, it has motors in both wheels. This would be problematic for most vehicles since it would be necessary and difficult to synchronize the motors. But Batman wants the advantages of that and is willing to pay Fox to put in the R&D to make it work.

That does seem to be Batman's philosophy when it comes to technology (grapnel gun, Nomex survival suit, etc.). None of it would be cost effective for police forces or militaries. But Lucius Fox is skilled enough and has the resources to design stuff that's complex and reliable.

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A similar concept is used in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever - the one with Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and nipples on Batsuit.

During a car chase, Batman flips a switch and makes his car roll sideways, effectively ducking Two-Face's rocket.

On a more serious note, the tighter rotation circle comes in handy. It's always nice to be able to rotate without translational motion:

Also here, where Catwoman does a 180-degree turn:

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    First video is dead
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 19:42
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My idea on that is;

It was originally a design feature for the overall function of the batmobile, allowing it to be more maneuverable due to the heavy and bulky design, the fact it is present on the bike/pod whatever you want to call it, is just purely because it was built into the wheels for the bat mobile.

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