Copenhagen Wheel Provides Wireless Pedal Assist Support For Bicycles
December 4, 2013

Copenhagen Wheel Turns Any Bicycle Into Hybrid ‘e-bike’

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

MIT-spinoff Superpedestrian unveiled a commercial version of its Copenhagen Wheel on Tuesday, allowing consumers to turn any ordinary bicycle into a hybrid “e-bike.”

The $700 rear wheel works in a fashion similar to a Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt, converting and storing energy during pedaling, braking and descending that is later used to boost riders as they accelerate or go uphill.

The wheel's onboard electronics detect how hard the rider is pedaling, and trigger the motor to automatically assist when needed.

“The Wheel learns about the rider and intuitively recognizes how hard he or she pedals and the topography ahead to determine how much support the rider may need,” Superpedestrian said in a statement obtained by CNET. “There aren’t any additional throttles, wires, or buttons, maintaining the pure simplicity of cycling.”

The amount of assistance the Copenhagen Wheel provides can also be predetermined by the rider using a smartphone app, which provides riders with data such as distance traveled, calories burned and elevation gain.

The wheel – a sleek-looking, 12-pound red disk that sits within the spokes of the bike’s back wheel – features either a 250-watt or 350-watt hub motor, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a range of approximately 30 miles (48 km) and a top assisted speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). It is available in 26-inch, 27-inch and 700C sizes.

Battery life is typically extended through a regenerative braking system, although the battery can be removed and recharged when required, Superpedestrian said.

MIT's SENSEable City first unveiled the prototype of the Copenhagen Wheel back in 2009, but the production version is being made by Superpedestrian, a company comprised of SENSEable City team members who licensed the technology from MIT.

The wheel’s development was sponsored by the Mayor of Copenhagen, after which the wheel is named.

The Copenhagen Wheel is available for pre-order now through Superpedestrian’s website, although the handmade modules won’t begin shipping until the first quarter of 2014. The first 1,000 units are already in production, and will be available for mountain bike and road bike wheel sizes, the Boston-based startup said.

The $700 version of the wheel represents a single-gear configuration, with a multiple gear version available at additional cost.