One solution to the dilemma of wanting to keep your favorite bike, while also getting the benefits of electric mobility, is a drop-in wheel replacement.
For those of us who already own a bike or three that we love, the decision to buy a purpose-built electric bike is a tough one, partly because of the cost and partly because we may not want to invest in a whole new frame. However, a fairly new option can help us to have the best of both worlds. With an all-in-one electric bike wheel, which includes the motor and the battery in one unit, it's possible to own a drop-in e-bike wheel that can be quickly installed or removed, depending on how or where you're riding, without having to own a completely new bike.
We've previously covered a few other drop-in e-bike components, such as the GeoOrbital Wheel, the Electron Wheel, the FlyKly Smart Wheel, and the Copenhagen Wheel, but there's a new option about to hit the market, called the UrbanX.
Currently in the middle of an already successful crowdfunding campaign, the UrbanX is a drop-in front wheel, which essentially makes the bike front wheel drive (or two-wheel drive) and adds weight and torque to the front, which some people claim can change the riding dynamic of a bicycle enough to be unsafe. The Copenhagen Wheel, on the other hand, is a rear wheel replacement, which is more in line with traditional rear wheel drive bikes, but which adds a bit of complexity due to the sprockets and gearset.
According to the specs available on the campaign page, the basic UrbanX model (the Eco) has a 240W electric motor capable of hitting a top speed of 15 mph and a range per charge of 30 miles. The Booster model, on the other hand, has a 350W motor, which can reach 20 mph, with the same estimated range of 30 miles per charge. There is an accompanying app (of course) for selecting the level of pedal-assist. The 15 lb UrbanX wheels are available in either pedal-assist versions or a throttle version, and come in 6 different wheel sizes to fit a wide range of bikes.
The battery powering the UrbanX wheel is a 36V, 3500mAH, 126WH lithium-ion model, which is said to take about an hour and a half to charge, and extra batteries can be purchased to carry with and swap out for longer rides. The UrbanX is also compatible with disc brakes, which are often stock on many modern bikes, allowing for the wheels to be installed on bikes without having to switch to rim brakes on the front.
Backers at the $299 level can get an UrbanX Eco model, while a $399 pledge reserves one of the Booster models, and the crowdfunding price is said to be a 57% discount on the future retail price of the units. Shipping of the UrbanX wheels is estimated to begin in July of 2017. Find out more at Kickstarter, and remember that with crowdfunding, it's always prudent to keep the phrase 'buyer beware' in mind, as you're essentially pre-ordering something that may or may not be delivered on time, or perhaps not at all.