A wheel with an integrated motor and battery that slips into the rear dropouts of most bikes to give the rider electric assistance goes on pre-order sale today.
The first 1,000 Copenhagen Wheels – developed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and licensed to a company called Superpedestrian – costs US$699 (£426 approx). Demand for the product, which is an entirely self-contained unit and doesn’t require any other modifications to a user’s bike, is expected to be fierce.
The 5.5kg (12lb) wheel either for singlespeed or rear derailleur-equipped bikes will help riders hit 32km/h (20mph) and has a range of 48km (30 miles) says Superpedestrian’s co-founder, Assaf Biderman. It will come in 26in, 27in and 700c sizes and 250W and 350W versions. Usefully, it also has regenerative braking, meaning the battery receives some extra charge every time the brakes are applied. The lithium-ion battery is good for 1,000 charges.
Biderman said: “Tens of thousands of people have been emailing us wanting to use it in the their daily commute.”
Though the wheels go on sale today, Biderman added: “We’re making it by hand in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we know that these 1,000 will be made over the next two quarters, but if demand really exceeds this 1,000 then we’ll keep on producing and scale up production.”
The development means Superpedestrian, which has financial backing from Tumblr founder, David Karp, technically beats technology rival Flykly to the first commercial punch.
Flykly, who visited Superpedestrian’s workshops 18 months ago Biderman told BikeRadar, recently launched a crowdfunding mission and collected more than $700,000. The target was $100,000. The Flykly wheel – also an integrated battery and motor system – is expected to start delivering on pre-orders in May 2014.
Last week data from German market analysts Schlegel und Partner was published, which showed the growing market for pedelecs in the country was rapidly getting younger too. In 2010, 20 percent of sales were to people under 45. In 2012 under 45s made up 60 per cent of the market. Light, integrated and reasonably-priced products such as the Copenhagen Wheel and Flykly that can be retrofitted to a rider’s preferred bikes may reinforce that trend.