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Self-contained powered Copenhagen Wheel hits the market – at last

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December 3, 2013

The Copenhagen Wheel turns any bike electric

The Copenhagen Wheel turns any bike electric

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Back in 2009, MIT's SENSEable City team unveiled its Copenhagen Wheel prototype. In a nutshell, it's a self-contained electrically-powered rear bicycle wheel that can be installed on any regular bike, instantly turning it into an e-bike. Today, it was announced that a commercial version of the Copenhagen Wheel is now available to consumers.

Development of the original wheel was sponsored by the Mayor of Copenhagen, hence its name. The production version is being manufactured by Superpedestrian, a Massachusetts-based company consisting of SENSEable City team members who licensed the technology from MIT.

The wheel's onboard electronics sense how hard the rider is pedaling, and trigger the motor to pitch in with its own assistance, as needed. This means that if the rider is going uphill, for instance, the motor will contribute more. If they're cruising along comfortably, on the other hand, it might not run at all.

The Copenhagen Wheel – stylish Cinelli not included

Exactly how much assistance it provides can be predetermined by the rider, using an app on their smartphone. That app also allows them to track their riding stats, including distance traveled, calories burned and elevation gain. Additionally, when the paired phone (and its user) move out of Bluetooth range of the parked bike, the wheel will automatically lock until the phone returns.

It features either a 250-watt or 350-watt hub motor (buyer's choice), 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 weighs 12 lb (5.5 kg), and is available in 26-inch, 27-inch and 700C sizes.

Battery life is extended via a regenerative braking system. When recharging is required, the battery can be removed from the wheel.

Some readers might recall our recent report on the FlyKly wheel, which very much resembles the Copenhagen Wheel. A representative from Superpedestrian agrees that the FlyKly is "strikingly similar," but tells us that there is no official relationship between the two products.

The Copenhagen Wheel is available now for pre-order, at a price of US$699. Shipping is expected to begin at the end of the first quarter of next year.

More information is available in the video below.

Source: Superpedestrian

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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21 Comments

It's brilliant, but it costs more than my bike. And with that kind of expensive, easily-sold-on-ebay accessory I'd be nervous locking my bike up on the street. It seems to already have a g-sensor. It also needs a GPS and some kind of mobile data/text-only plan in order to provide insurance against theft. Otherwise, very cool. I'd like to see these guys succeed.

Stradric
3rd December, 2013 @ 07:33 am PST

It's a very good price if this is really $699 and includes the battery and charger... most motors of this kind come in at twice that or more. No information on range and I am guessing, for a battery of this size that range will be relatively short, even with regenerative breaking. I await the product reviews with interest

Richard Guy
3rd December, 2013 @ 08:45 am PST

Brilliant.

Now, to see if FlyKly is cheaper... ;)

Edgar Castelo
3rd December, 2013 @ 09:02 am PST

Not expensive for what it does. I've used electric bikes for six years and eaten my way through some of the cheaper setups that are out there and I have to say you totally get what you pay for. Buy a $399 Malwart e-bike and see what that gets you and how usable it is after two years commuter use. Good luck!

Sure enough this is a new product but as an enclosed unit it has far higher odds to be durable than anything with wires and separate outside bits.

We shell out cash for transit, and/or cars, car repairs, insurance, parking and more all the time, wasting thousands of dollars a year, but when an appliance comes along that is a one-time-investment that will incur monthly costs that are essentially imperceivable, there's still muttering about the price.

However, I do agree on concerns about stealing. Unlike other e-bikes, this setup can be stolen with just some basic tools, and "all-enclosed" has its advantages for thieves, too. No wiring or controller left behind! Built-in alarm? Via Bluetooth? Good ideas, and can be done with a few more lines of code.

BeWalt
3rd December, 2013 @ 09:38 am PST

One of these at the front AND at the back would be interesting - and still cheaper than a typical commercial e-bike.

This thing matches my current bike's colour perfectly, too..!

Keith Reeder
3rd December, 2013 @ 12:57 pm PST

I _don't_ want my smartphone on my handlebars for all the obvious reasons. I hope this thing is simple enough that you can set it up and put your phone in your pocket where it belongs. Voice control would be very cool though.

@Keith: Front and back is a great idea! I've been following FlyKly on KS and don't think anyone there came up with it.

DonGateley
3rd December, 2013 @ 03:13 pm PST

Yet another idea using an "app" to control via iPhone or smartphone! It might frighten people, but there are those of us who do not want the life intrusion of a smartphone, twittish, facepalm, or the other stuff. It might keep the costs down a little but what is wrong with a small bespoke controller hidden in, or screwed to, the handlebars? Let's face it, if thieves want it, it will get stolen and 'hacked' anyway, making it controlled by a smartphone will not change that.

The Skud
3rd December, 2013 @ 04:55 pm PST

I like the concept with this and FlyKly's in-wheel design but don't like the idea of using smart phones to manage it. To many things are being managed by phones nowadays. It is more and more important to lock your phone and keep it under restricted control not to loos access to your bank account including the locks of your house, bike and loads of other stuff.

Also all navigators want not to manage the device during the ride and now the biker shall start to do this when they rather often don't have a clue on how to behave on the open road?

Phona and Bike together is a no-no for me

Vincent Bevort
4th December, 2013 @ 01:47 am PST

I like this set up quite a bit but I don't own a smart phone and have no plans to do so, can I use it with out one?

mrhuckfin
4th December, 2013 @ 04:30 am PST

Interesting product, and a nice collaboration. I would be interested to hear about gearing and how that works. Everyone in the video was peddling with a relatively fast cadence… I'm interested to know whether you can actually change gear, and whether it can provide a natural feel with climbs and descents. I guess that's why your smart phone needs to be on the handlebars… To allow the user to change the assistance ration that the hub provides, as you ride, therefore emulating gear changes.

Xtreme Phil
4th December, 2013 @ 06:23 am PST

It is a wonderful idea. My only objection is that its phone controls will cause distracted biking. Anyone who has ever been hit by a bike knows how deadly that can be!

Let's stick to hand controls and be safe. Btw, if a thief is going to go after your goods, don't leave it without through both wheels hardened locks .

I would like to have one if the electronic controls are optional, but not required.

Ed temple
4th December, 2013 @ 10:18 am PST

Thia one I'm going to follow closely. In my area it would pay off quickly.

gerald
4th December, 2013 @ 10:32 am PST

Memo to marketing: ditch the all-white bike in promotional pics. In some US cities, all white bikes ("ghost bikes") are posted at sites of fatal (for the bicyclist) car-bike accidents. We have more than a few here in Denver. Seeing this photo gave me the chills.

frank@wmxsystems
4th December, 2013 @ 10:46 am PST

Agree this looks intriguing. Something like this would let my wife and I ride at the same pace without one of us having to slow down for the other. On the other hand, the photos seem to show bikes with no gearing. Would this work with existing derailleur systems? I'd rather ride with a standard road bike than a one speed, even a one speed with electrical assist.

Rob Preece
4th December, 2013 @ 05:18 pm PST

This wheel is a good idea to entice more people to commute by bike, at least where your commuting distance and weather are not drastic. What we really need though are traffic laws that make bike commuting during rush hour safe and not a death sentence or suicidal pact. In my part of the country (greater Washington DC) that's the biggest disincentive to bike commuting. Bike enthusiasts, let's flood our government representatives with requests to approve laws that propose serious measures to make bike commuting safe. They know of all the benefits to our health, environmental cleanliness, energy use , etc., they just need to hear from more of us! The wheel is a great idea but may become only another useless gadget for people concerned mainly about their safety when sharing the road with motorists.

Raul Miranda
4th December, 2013 @ 07:49 pm PST

Very cool. I would like to see a storage system for bikes that are lexan boxes so your bike would be totally enclosed and also visible and accesable with a changeble combination lock so you wouldn't need to bring your own lock and cable and it would protect things like this wheel.

Paul Bedichek
5th December, 2013 @ 03:21 am PST

Again & Again, I'm stunned at how much, these companies try to charge, then whine when they go out of biz, as sales aren't high.

Its a pedal bike kit, a CHEAP form of transport. Make the bike AND wheel motor/battery for $350 and You'll sell as many as you can make....let us be honest, they are only using jazzed up 115yr old Tech and old battery tech, so why the high cost to assemble existing tech.

A $150 mountain bike and a $200 motor budget seems right for a Chinese corps industrial might, so where are they???

PaulYak
6th December, 2013 @ 12:43 pm PST

Looking at the design I wonder if by hitting a pothole you could pop a spoke clear off or do damage to the internal components ?

Riding in town I have to repair my wheels too often. I am considering a full suspension road bike which would help my body but would not do anything for the motorized wheels.

My main concern is the bad condition of some of the roads around here. Pot holes, cracks, bumps from repairs, and just plain busted up asphalt and concrete. There are enough roads like this that there is no way to avoid riding on some of them. And there are either no sidewalks (which I do not like to use anyway) or the sidewalk is as bad as the road. And they like to say this is a bicycle friendly town.

My commute is about 15 miles (1 hour) one way so a recharge at work might be needed. I have some hills that are not too bad. I pedal downhill so no regen except for slowing for a stop. I have to think the 30 mile range would depend on how fast you are trying to go.

Regarding derailleur gearing: I imagine with the motor assist the idea is that you only need one gear. You pedal one RPM and go one speed and the motor takes care of the hills and headwind. But what about accelerating from a stop, how does that work ? If you accelerate fast the motor helps but if you accelerate slowly you are on your own ?

I already go over 20 MPH downhill or level with a bit of tailwind so the 20 MPH limit seems a little low and adding a front wheel (if available, and how would it be controlled ?) would only be to extend the range or for that occasional hill with the strong headwind.

Intellcity
7th December, 2013 @ 01:24 am PST

@Intellcity: I also thought about potholes and something else. The motor itself, if made right, can handle vibrations and water getting in. But what about a Li-ion battery heated up by the motor, then by charging, then well shaken and covered with moist/water incidentally sucked in? I'd better wait for reports from happy buyers.

YuraG
7th December, 2013 @ 01:49 pm PST

Of course the range will vary depending on body weight, terrain (dirt trail, hills). I would like to see a road test review. What about reliability? Single speed for starters and hopefully a multi speed model with a mountain bike sized tire.

King Penson
7th February, 2014 @ 05:46 pm PST

Paul Yak, my hand tools and meters (electrician) and bicycles are purchased using the same philosophy - I buy the best that I can afford just as most people do. The operative word here is 'afford'. If your purchasing philosophy works for you ,that's great! Mine works for me.

Noel K Frothingham
20th October, 2014 @ 01:55 am PDT
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