The new version of Superpedestrian's drop-in e-bike wheel offers a seamless, wireless electric bike riding experience.
The number of different e-bike models on the market right now is impressive, and prices on some of those electric bikes are right in line with the price of a quality conventional bike, so electric personal mobility is becoming an increasingly viable option. But not everybody wants a purpose-built e-bike, as they like the bike they already have, in which case there are a number of drop-in electric bike options. However, many of those are for the front wheel, and are decidedly 'dumb' when it comes to integrating with the riding style of the cyclist.
A far better choice might be a drop-in e-bike wheel for the rear of the bike, where it can sense the rider's cadence and function as a pedal-assist motor to amplify the rider's efforts. However, whereas a drop-in front wheel is rather simple in execution, a rear wheel entails a more complex design, as it needs to include the gear hub and freewheel and correctly match the chainline of the bike, but it seems as if Superpedestrian's latest Copenhagen Wheel could be the 'smart' choice for a seamless e-bike riding experience.
The Copenhagen Wheel isn't a new entry to the e-bike scene, as we've covered it before, but the latest version offers what Superpedestrian calls "human-enhancing technology." The basic premise of the Copenhagen Wheel is the same, in that it's an all-in-one e-bike conversion that can turn almost any bike (with a few caveats as to bike sizes) into an electric one, without having to mount a battery or run wires down the frame or add a pedal sensor. But with the new model, it's claimed that the combination of sensors, computers, battery, and motor can sense the rider's "most minute motions" and can "respond faster than the body can detect," amplifying the rider's pedal power by a factor of 10.
“People are smart and can adapt to technology, but good technology should be smart enough to adapt to people. We set ourselves an ambitious goal: integrating with a rider’s body in a way that makes you feel naturally stronger. It took over three years of engineering, but I can finally say we made that dream a reality." - Assaf Biderman, founder and CEO of Superpedestrian
The Wheel has a 350W electric hub motor (250W for EU) capable of speeds up to 20 mph (25 kph for EU), powered by a 48V 279Wh Li-ion battery that is said to allow for up to a 30 mile (50 km) range per charge. The battery has a 4-hour full charge time, or a 2-hour time for an 80% charge, and is rated for 1000 charge cycles. It weighs in at 16.8 lb (7.6 kg), and can be fit onto a singlespeed bike or a geared bike (7/8/9/10-gear Shimano/SRAM-compatible), as long as the dropout spacing is either 120 mm (single-speed) or 135 mm (single-speed & multi-speed).
Like so many things these days, the full functionality of the Copenhagen Wheel is enabled through an app, where riders set the pedal-assist level (Eco, Standard, Turbo, Exercise, or completely off) and can map rides, track distance, speed, and estimated calories burned, as well as allowing for the sharing of the Wheel with friends or family. The app also manages a "Proximity Unlock" feature using the Bluetooth connection, so no additional key is necessary for enabling the Wheel (though a physical lock is necessary to secure the actual bike and Wheel). The wheel also has a regenerative braking system to partially recharge the battery, and which can also function in Exercise mode to make for a more physically challenging ride if desired.
The Copenhagen Wheel is available through Superpedestrian's website for $1,499, and the company also offers a limited edition full package of a Bike + Wheel, in either a step-through or standard frame, for $1999. More information available at Superpedestrian.