Start-Up Reinvents the Wheel

So, it turns out really can reinvent the wheel. Well, improve upon it, anyway.

Superpedestrian, a Boston start-up secured a round of funding ($2.1M) to bring the Copenhagen Wheel, to the masses.

bits-wheel-tmagArticleSuperpedestrian’s solution is to slip a motor into an existing analog product: the bicycle.

While the new wheel is still round, it has technology that makes it different from most normal bike wheels.

The Copenhagen Wheel replaces the rear wheel of a bicycle. It includes a motor powered by a built-in battery and sensors. When someone pedals with the new wheel in place, the bike uses sensors and an app on a smartphone to measure the amount of effort the rider is putting into each pedal. It then offers an additional boost when necessary.

One of the most interesting components of the new wheel is that the rider doesn’t need to tell the bike when help is necessary, the wheel just figures it out using the sensors and gives the bike a push.

“Riding on a flat surface, or up a hill, will feel exactly the same,” Mr. Biderman said.

The wheel doesn’t need to be charged or plugged in on a nightly basis, either. Instead, the wheel captures the energy from the brakes when a rider goes down hill and then stores that power in a high-capacity lithium battery. The motor also acts like a generator, creating power for later rides when the rider pedals in reverse.

The company said the wheel will last for 15 miles in each direction and will fit on most standard bicycles.

This could be good for urban bicycle riders or city bike swap programs. But I don’t see how this will take off with a majority of people. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that will entice people to start cycling even if cities would be more enjoyable with fewer automobiles in them.

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