We all know how tough it is to reinvent the wheel in this day and age. Between touch-capacity, lambskin gloves and voice-controlled grills, it seems the market for new products and sheer innovation is quickly dwindling with each passing passing year and sultry shot of whiskey. However, venture-backed company Superpedestrian is doing just that with its commuter-friendly Copenhagen Wheel ($799), a simple device designed to replace the rear wheel of nearly any standard bicycle and provide cyclists with a slight boost in those dire times when getting from point A to point B seems far too daunting to undertake alone. After all, we’ve all been there.
Initially sponsored by the Mayor of Copenhagen and developed at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab as a research project, the 26-inch wheel conveniently sports a built-in motor, Bluetooth functionality, and the ability to sync with an accompanying Superpedestrian mobile app for Android and iOS platforms. The self-contained unit touts a range of 30 miles and is powered by a 48-volt rechargeable battery, one which automatically captures and stores energy when breaking or going downhill, while boasting compatibility for both single speed and multi-speed bicycles.
There’s no throttle or cumbersome accelerator either, as the device merely requires riders to pedal as they would normally to activate the device. A series of 12 sensors and control algorithms embedded within the red casing feed data directly to the accompanying smartphone app, providing usage statistics detailing time elapsed, distance, speed, calories burned, and incline information, among other pertinent data—all of which can then be shared in real-time.
“We wanted something lightweight, that looks great and is seamless to use,” said Superpedestrian founder Assaf Biderman in a recent interview with Wired. “It’s not about putting a motor on and off when you pedal—that feels like you’re on a rocking chair. It’s more sophisticated and understands the pattern of your motion as you ride to help you tackle challenges, whether that’s long distances or hills. It feels like any bike you’ve ridden.”
The Copenhagen Wheel is slated for release this summer on a first-come, first-served basis. Superpedestrian is currently accepting pre-orders for both the limited edition and developer’s edition of the wheel, the latter of which costs the same and includes access to the company’s developer kit, API, and newsletter.
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