Copenhagen Wheel allows cyclists to bike ‘faster, farther’
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a device that could transform the commuting world, and dozens of people in B.C. and across Canada are already shelling out big bucks to get it.
The Copenhagen Wheel is a bright red, high-tech wheel that replaces the rear wheel of a standard bicycle, turning it into an electric hybrid. The wheel’s built-in battery captures energy whenever a cyclist brakes or rides downhill. The wheel releases the stored energy when it senses the cyclist pedalling harder, allowing the rider to bike faster, farther, and easier.
There’s a really big hill they don’t like to go over or they get too sweaty and they don’t want to have to shower at work, the Copenhagen Wheel was sort of created as a way to remove these obstacles, said Jon Stevens, an engineer with the company Superpedestrian which is now developing the wheel.
Stevens said the wheel is more advanced than a standard electric bike because it powers the bike automatically through sense and control algorithms. Cyclists can use a smartphone app to adjust how much of a kick they get.
You just ride your bicycle like it’s a regular bicycle, but you get all the benefits of having an electric bike, said Stevens.
The company has been taking pre-orders for two months, and already more than 16,000 people have paid 800 USD — plus shipping — to get one.
After nearly five years of development, the Copenhagen Wheel will be hitting the pavement this spring.
WATCH SUPERPEDESTRIAN’S PROMO VIDEO
With files from CBC’s Robert Zimmerman
- 108 reading now War comes to Russian businesses after drones strike Moscow’s financial centre
- 69 reading now When it comes to EV chargers, Canada is way behind the U.S., analysis shows
- 66 reading now Euphoria actor Angus Cloud dead at 25
- 64 reading now High levels of arsenic detected in 112 wells across N.L. — and hundreds more could be at risk
- 63 reading now Role of politicians in pandemic restriction decision-making breached Alberta Public Health Act: Calgary judge
Hitting The Road With The Copenhagen Wheel, Sweat Not Included
On December 15, 2009 MIT attended the United Nations Climate Conference and unveiled perhaps one of the most hyped pieces of tech to hit bicycles in ages: the Copenhagen Wheel. Now, nearly a decade later, the concept that went from viral success to the top of every bicycle nerd’s wishlist has finally hit the market en mass and spun out into it’s own company, Superpedestrian.
Unlike most traditional ebikes, the wheel is designed to be added on to almost any single or multi-geared bike with minimal work (and no wires!), turning your pedal power into an enhanced experience. In other words this badass wheel will turn your meager effort into a 20 MPH cruiser without even breaking a sweat.
As an avid cyclist for most of my life in some form or another and more recently into triathlons, getting my hands on the Copenhagen Wheel to try out was on the top of my wishlist. But would it live up to the hype? That is exactly what we set out to answer over the course of a month. Superpedestrian was kind enough to send over one of the three bikes they offer with the wheel pre-built in (which of course I meddled with) called The Trousers. It’s a stylish, hipster friendly cruiser featuring all metal frames, a rear rack, and of course the Copenhagen Wheel.
Here’s the high level scoop:
To set the stage a bit, Charleston, SC is a very flat city. With the exceptions of a few incredibly steep bridges, the biggest incline variations you’ll get are typically due to large potholes. With cruiser wheels this isn’t a problem, but for those of us on road and tri bikes, it can be painful.
To get things started I began testing the bike within my neighborhood doing some basic one and two mile loops. By default it’s in turbo mode, and wow do you feel that kick in. As soon as you start to pedal the Copenhagen wheel does its thing and will quickly push you to its 20 MPH limit. Once you max it out you’ll feel it find a balancing point, but if you try to push beyond that speed the motor turns back off.
Next it was on to a commuting ride to drop a box of at the post office. I strapped the box on to the rear rack, did a mix of road, sidewalk, and bike lane riding, and it was easy to tell how much effort the wheel exerting to push me forward. I was to the post office and back in no time, and didn’t even break a sweat. A few days later I rode The Trouser bike from my place into work, about 6 miles away, and again got an insanely smooth, effortless ride out of it. A few coworkers gave the bike a whirl too, with one in particular saying how much he loved the boost it gave.
Also, it’s a bit more difficult to tell how fast you’re going on the bike, but watching someone on it is an entirely different situations. People were flying on it, and that’s pretty entertaining considering that it looks like a beach cruiser.
Will the Copenhagen Wheel fit my bike?
Finally, it was time for the last big test: Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge. The bridge is supposedly the third longest cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere, coming in at 13,200 feet. In other words it’s about 2.5 miles each way, with some leeway on the ends. As the steepest, bike friendly part of Charleston, going up that bridge is a solid little workout with about a 380 foot climb.
According to the TomTom Adventure GPS watch and Strava, the Copenhagen Wheel shaved about two minutes off each segment when compared to going over it on my Felt B14 tri bike. For example, going from the Charleston side to the Mount pleasant side with the wheel I had a time of 8:10 and an average heart rate of 92 BPM, but on the B14 I had a time of 10:49 and a heart rate of 112 BPM.
Going back the opposite way saw similar results, and according to the GPS watch, it also topped out at 26.4 MPH and there was quite a bit of breaking involved as to not smash into runners. The app output also showed that the wheel was doing all the heavy lifting, while I just got to sit back and enjoy the ride. Overall the ride and speed output lived up to the hype, maybe more so.
Specs and Features
With an estimated top speed of 20 MPH, the Copenhagen Wheel has a range of about 30 miles depending on your speed settings. It also has regenerative braking, but frankly I couldn’t find a lot of details regarding this one. As for speed, due to US regulations the motor does have to shut off after exceeding 20 MPH, so it may feel like it’s holding you back until you decelerate at that point. As you’re pedaling it’s easy to find that top speed balance though.
Within the app you’ll get access to five ride modes, with turbo being the default. The ride modes are: standard, turbo, eco, exercise, and off. Each gives you data no matter what, but the others give you various speed variances or elongates your battery. Exercise mode holds it back even more, adding resistance to your ride.
The app will also track things like your trips, distance, duration, average speed, calories burned, and most importantly how much work you are doing versus the wheel. The app also shows you the health of the wheel, just like Automatic Pro does for a car, due to the hub’s internal self-diagnostic system.
The motor within the wheel pushes out 350w, with a 48 volt Lithium Ion battery stabilized at the center so that it doesn’t spin. The battery should also have a lifecycle of about 1000 chargers. From our experience a full charge will typically take from two to four hours, and it uses a standard wall outlet and the included maglock style charging cables.
The hub/wheel itself weighs just under 17 lbs, but that will basically double the weight of a standard road bike. The Trousers bike in particular is all steel, which means it’s going to be a bit heavy to lug around for storage. On this particular bike you’ll also get several accessories and features like leather grips and a leather saddle, a tiny bell, and front and rear reflectors. Be for warned, the seat is super hard and uncomfortable.
The bike also comes with Kenda Kwest 35c wheels, a40/15 gear ratio, and Tektro R369 Road Brake Caliper brakes. The particular bike I reviewed also comes in either white or black, and features a powder coated steel frame with a rear rack.
Should you buy Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen Wheel? Well now, that is the 1500 (2000?) dollar question. If you have the money to burn, I can wholeheartedly say that this bike is absolutely fantastic. If you already have a steel framed bike that you enjoy and it can support the wheel itself, that too would be a great choice.
With that said, this bike and the included technology is not necessarily designed for the casual rider looking to pick up your basic mongoose at Walmart, but more likely would use it for commuting in some form. If you compare it to the cost of a Moped, the wheel still comes in cheaper, and you can ride it/park it more places. As someone who has spent more than this price tag on a bike before, I can certainly say that it’s an investment, but once you give it a try you’ll likely fall in love with it. Superpedestrian also offers a monthly installment plan too though, so there is that.
All the positives aside, there is of course competition on the market. A few brands in particular have tried to steal the concept, others are still trying to crowdfund their solution, and there are of course other modular engines and motors you can add to a bike, but none currently look as awesome or install as quickly.
The only really negative that I have on the bike, nothing to do with the wheel, is the seat. Even my tri bike, which features a super think Evo seat, is more comfortable than that thing. If you buy the bike, get either a seat cover, new saddle, or heavily padded cycling shorts.
Overall we give Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen Wheel and Trousers bike a 4.8 out of 5. The wheel it self gets a perfect score. If they got rid of that evil seat we’d give the bike a perfect score too for doing exactly what it was designed to do while looking fly as hell.
Price: 2000 for the bike or 1500 for the wheel (installment plans available).
Where to buy: Superpedestrian
Read more reviews about Gear and Gadgets at Tech.Co
Look and Feel
The Copenhagen Wheel had its beginnings at the Senseable City Lab at MIT in 2009. The spin off became the startup named Superpedestrian and based in Cambridge, MA. The initial orders were taken in 2013, but full delivery to all the backers was fulfilled in March of 2017. By May, its production capacity was able to deliver Copenhagen Wheels within two to three weeks.
The actual wheel itself is a red, frisbee-sized axle for the rear wheel. This serves as the housing for the electronics, and mechanical parts. It has a range of 31 miles, and mileage will vary. On eco mode, it will last longer, up to 40 miles. Tackling hills, going against the wind, carrying more weight, as well as running on turbo will shorten the range.
Most pedal assist bikes have the motor powering the wheel when it is needed. The Copenhagen Wheel also enables the rider to send power back to the battery via backpedaling. The recharging is done by backpedaling. This slows down the E-bike, but does not halt it completely. For sudden brakes, or better deceleration, the brakes have to be used. This is almost the same technology – kinetic energy recovery system – used in Formula 1 cars and other hybrids. Although this cannot fully charge the battery, it does help prolong the battery life.
The price of the Copenhagen Wheel with the bike included is 5000,000. However the Wheel can be bought separately and installed by the buyer on his own, and costs only 450,500. This may seem like a steep price, but it is still within the price range of affordable quality e-bikes. If you already have a frame, or half a bike, you can opt to buy the wheel only, and install it without any problem. There are only a few things to consider before replacing the rear wheel. The Copenhagen Wheel cannot be swapped with some bike sizes, and hence, cannot be swapped with them due to the length of the frame. In addition, it does not work with rear disk brakes. For the complete bike and Copenhagen Wheel, there are 18 different frames to choose from.
The Copenhagen Wheel and all its components: the frisbee-like cover, motor, batteries and computer weighs about 17 pounds. A complete E-bike could weigh as much as 30 pounds, so this is easily the lighter and more portable option. Having no charge on the battery will result in a serious workout. The imbalance between front and rear wheels means that it cannot be hung on a quiver. There are heavier E-bikes, but it is still not a good idea to carry this E-bike into the office.
A Closer Look at the App
The smartphone app serves as the control center for the Copenhagen Wheel. With the app, the user can lock the Wheel disabling any mobility, and preventing theft. Any thief would need to carry the bike instead of riding away with it. If the user runs out of charge on the smartphone while riding the E-bike, it has to be recharged first in order to turn off the motor. The app starts the motor, allows the rider to choose the mode and start pedaling.
The app also serves as a monitoring device. It reads values for effort, distance, duration of trip, trip speed, current speed, and battery life. It can also show a graph showing how much effort was expended, and how much energy was added. It gives real-time feedback about the rider’s fitness and exercise goals, if any. This is a bike, after all, and the E-bike is meant to assist in the ride.
It can also connect to other information to enhance the riding experience. This includes traffic congestion along the route, ride conditions and the area’s pollution levels. The user can keep the data in the app database. Alternatively, he can share the data with other Copenhagen Wheel users, or with friends on social media. The environmentally conscious crowd would be happy to know that the ride also counts “green miles” which is like a frequent flyer program, and is good for the environment.
Some parts of this page are not supported on your current browser version. Please upgrade to a recent browser version.
U.S. markets open in 3 hours 37 minutes
Russell 2000 Futures
You may not be European. So you may not know about electric bikes, which are white-hot popular in the cities of Europe.
On an e-bike, a smooth, silent motor boosts your pedaling, making easy work of hills and headwinds. E-bikes offer a perfect middle ground between cars (easy, but expensive to drive, expensive to park, and polluting) and regular bikes (free, non-polluting, but you get to work sweaty). An e-bike means never paying for gas, sailing past traffic jams, and never having to hunt for parking.
As long as an e-bike’s motor tops out at 20 miles per hour (15 in Europe), your government considers it a bicycle. So—unlike with motorcycles—you don’t need a license, you don’t have to be 16, you don’t have to register it, and don’t have to fuss with a bunch of laws.
That part was supposed to get you excited about e-bikes. Now here’s the part where you crash: Good e-bikes start at 3,500 and go way, way up. (Here’s my review of four of them.)
But suppose you could electrify the bike you already have? Suppose you could just pop off its wheel, and replace it with a motorized one. Then you could have an e-bike for a fraction of the price—without giving up the frame, seat, brakes, gears, and handlebars you already own and love.
That’s the idea behind the Copenhagen Wheel and the Geo Orbital wheel. (A third, really promising replacement wheel, called the UrbanX, was a successful Kickstarter project and then, renamed UrbaNext, succeeded on Indiegogo. Apparently they’re accepting pre-orders. But the company didn’t respond to a dozen emails I sent over a couple of weeks, they didn’t reply to any queries sent through their web form—and their phone number in Singapore is disconnected. I sure hope UrbanX isn’t Urban Ex.)
Both companies are based in Massachusetts, both wheels are waterproof and rechargeable, and both wheels change bike-riding game.
This futuristic, robotic-looking circle (450,000) replaces your existing bike’s front wheel. As a result, you can perform the entire wheel-replacement surgery in, no joke, two minutes after viewing the installation video. Spread your brake pads, open the quick-release clamp, swap wheels, redo the clamp and brakes, and then snap the thumb throttle onto your handlebar. You can’t use the GeoOrbital on bikes with disc brakes.
On the other hand, a front-wheel design has no way to know how hard you’re pedaling, or even if you’re pedaling. You don’t get any help from your e-wheel except when you’re holding down the thumb throttle. (Throttle-powered e-bikes are illegal in the bike lanes of Europe, however.)
There’s a long list of juicy features. The tire is made of hard foam, so it can’t ever go flat. The ignition key locks the removable battery in place, and also turns the power on or off.
You can get the GeoOrbital in either of two sizes. The smaller one, for 26-inch bikes, has a smaller battery, and therefore a lower weight (17 pounds), charging time (3 hours), and range (12 miles without pedaling, or 30 miles with pedaling).
The larger one (for bikes with 28, 29, and 700c wheels) is more massive: 21 pounds, 20-mile range without pedaling (50 miles with pedaling), recharges in 4 hours. Of course, you should take all e-bike range estimates with a grain of salt the size of your fist. Your weight, speed, and terrain all have a huge effect on those numbers.
You’re not going to fool anyone with the GeoOrbital’s looks: It’s truly weird-looking and attention-getting, like it’s made from the Terminator’s spare parts. The hub’s three giant arms press against the wheel rim—the tire rotates, but the contraption itself does not. (The company notes that this hubless design is a relative of the Lightcycles in the old Disney movie “Tron.”)
The motor makes a soft whine while it’s helping you, but it’s otherwise clean and quiet. Here’s what it looks and sounds like while you’re riding:
(Yes, I know it’s a decrepit, rusted bike—it’s the only 26-incher I had on hand.)
The GeoOrbital also boasts regenerative braking: When you’re coasting or braking, your momentum recharges the battery a bit. Unfortunately, when you’re not using power—when you’re just pedaling your bike as usual—the wheel fights you, adding resistance.
That, and the substantial front-weighting of your bike, make an unwieldy combination. A few of my test riders, initially delighted by the quiet whooshing feeling of GeoOrbital-assisted riding, lost a lot of their enthusiasm as a result.
The Copenhagen Wheel
This wheel costs more—450,500—and replaces your back wheel. Installation is therefore a more complex operation than popping off the front wheel. You have to fiddle with your bike chain, for example. Takes about 10 minutes instead of one.
You can order this wheel for almost any bike—road, hybrid, or mountain; any kind of tire, in 700c or 26-inch sizes; single-speed or 7-, 8-, 9-, or 10-speed. You can also, by the way, order a beautiful complete bike with the Wheel already installed, for 5000,000.
But wow, what a beautiful, compact, simple-looking machine. There’s nothing on your handlebar, no cable snaking up your bike frame. Instead, the shiny red capsule hub of your wheel contains everything: motor, battery, three computers, radio, and 74 sensors. If the design concept of the GeoOrbital is “all the technology is on display,” the Copenhagen Wheel’s is “conceal all of it.”
Of course, this design means that you can’t swap in a new battery; you’re stuck with one 30-mile charge at a time. It, too, recharges a bit when you brake or coast.
The center of the red capsule contains an on/off switch and a tiny door that protects the charging prongs.
When you start to pedal, the Wheel amplifies the power of your foot. This is the best part by far: The boost is smooth, silent, and controlled. The feeling is exhilarating. Everyone who tries it utters one delighted exclamation or another: “WOOHOO!!” or “Whoa!” or “Oh, wow!” or “Omigod!”
E-BIKES | Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel
They get it immediately: That this wheel levels not only the hills of your city, but also the playing field for older, younger, or weaker riders.
UPDATE: The Copenhagen Wheel’s 20-mph limit has just been raised to 25 mph in the US and Canada. You can really fly now. The same firmware update introduces assisted braking: When you backpedal, the wheel helps to slow you down—and recharges its battery simultaneously.
A phone app—a little buggy, unfortunately—controls how much boost you get: Turbo, Standard, Eco, None (it’s just a bike), and Exercise (extra resistance, which recharges the battery). The app also auto-tracks your rides, maintaining a map, distance, time, and calories burned for each session. As you drag your finger around the map of your route, a graph shows you how much of the work you performed, and how much help you got from the wheel.
The app can also “lock” the wheel. It still turns, but a thief won’t get any assistance from the Wheel.
The huge benefit of replacing your rear wheel is, of course, that the Wheel knows when you’re pedaling, and how hard. It gives you a boost proportional to the effort you’re expending. Somebody up at Superpedestrian (the manufacturer) spent a lot of time fine-tuning the torque ratios so that it would feel smooth and magical.
These two products address the same problem, but their philosophies could not be more different. The Copenhagen Wheel supplies power only when you’re pedaling; your bike may be superpowered, but it’s still a bike. The GeoOrbital, on the other hand, basically turns your bike into a moped. You can, if you like, just sit there and cruise along without pedaling at all.
Which philosophy you prefer is, of course, a matter of your philosophy.
The Copenhagen Wheel’s sophistication, polish, fun, and unobtrusiveness made it the favorite of most of my test riders; they felt it was easily worth the 500 price premium. At 17 pounds, it, too, is heavy (batteries and gravity, man—am I right?). Then again, regular e-bikes weigh around 50 pounds. And having the weight in the back feels more stable than having it in front.
Both of these wheels, though, beautifully execute their mission: Turning the bike you already own into a superbike.
from David Pogue:
David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes nontoxic Комментарии и мнения владельцев in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com . On. he’s @pogue . On email, he’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read all his articles here , or you can sign up to get his columns by email .