This $800 drop-in e-bike conversion offers a 20 mph top speed and a 30 mile range
Electron Wheel combines the battery, motor, and electronics for electric drive into a single unit that replaces your current front wheel.
For the savvy consumer who wants to go electric on their bike, but doesn't want to have to buy another bicycle to do so, there are a number of e-bike conversion kits on the market, most of which are DIY-friendly. But there's a fairly recent breed of e-bike conversion products that are designed to be ultra-quick to install and remove, such as the Copenhagen Wheel and the GeoOrbital Wheel, which allow riders to easily swap out between riding their bikes manually or with an electric assist.
The Electron Wheel is another entry to this market, and similar to the Copenhagen Wheel, the big idea is that (almost) everything is integrated into the wheel itself, which can quickly (30 seconds) be removed or installed on almost any bike. However, the Copenhagen Wheel is designed to replace the back wheel of a bike, and the Electron Wheel is intended to replace the front wheel, like the GeoOrbital Wheel is, so no chain or gears are involved in the removal process, and it allows the rider to continue to use their favorite drivetrain.
The e-bike product has a 250 W motor, powered by a 10.7Ah lithium ion battery (quick-charge time of 2 hours), which is said to give the wheel a top speed of 20 mph (US) and a range of up to 30 miles. It is a pedal-assist device, meaning that there is no throttle to just crank up the speed without pedaling, but instead it uses a sensor on the pedal crank, plus a user-selected power level, to determine how much electric assist to provide to the rider. On the flip side, the wheel weighs in at 19.8lbs (9kg), and is located on the front of your bike, not under your saddle or to the rear, so there are questions about how these front-mounted e-bike units affect handling and turning. Electron Wheel claims that "Impact on turning radius due to weight is only marginally impacted at speeds below 20mph," which sounds similar to responses from makers of other front-motor products.
Here's the feel-good promo video:
For charging, security, and transport, the wheel can be quickly removed, as any other quick-release front wheel is, and the Electron Wheel is available in 26" and 700c versions (currently only for bikes with rim brakes, not disc brakes, but the company says it is working on that for a future model). And of course there's an app involved, which uses a Bluetooth connection to the rider's phone for selecting the power assist level, monitoring battery life, and access to GPS and ride mapping options. The product is currently for sale for $799 (MSRP $1150) and the company offers a "15 Day At Home Test Ride" guarantee that allows users to return the units for a full refund within 15 days (up to 50 miles), with no questions asked. Learn more at Electron Wheel.