Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Electrify Your Bike with these Revolutionary Wheels

If your commute is too far for a bike ride, but too short for a drive, you may have considered an electric bike. E-bikes promise less carbon, effort, hassle and expense than a car. But buying another bike, particularly one of the ungainly e-bikes that seem to be popular, might not be so appealing. A couple new products are offering the perfect solution: by slipping in a special wheel, they turn your existing bike into an e-bike.


The Copenhagen Wheel by Superpedestrian actually measures your power output and automatically determines when you need an extra jolt. Power is derived in the same way hybrid cars get theirs. The wheel “captures the energy dissipated when you brake or go downhill, storing it in a lightweight and high-capacity lithium battery,” according to SP’s website. The company reports that the battery has a 15 mile range when fully charged (it’s not clear why it can’t be continuously charging).

The wheel also feature a Software Development Kit (SDK), which enables app developers to hack the wheel to make it do things like pollution monitoring and navigating.

The wheel was invented at MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory and unveiled at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Talks. The team behind the wheel decided to form a company late last year. The NY Times reported the other day that the company just received $2.1M in funding. The wheel is set to be released in late November. Pricing unavailable at this point.

The other wheel is called the FlyKly. The wheel’s development is being funded through a Kickstarter campaign (it has long since passed its $100K goal). It is packed with bells and whistles (figuratively speaking). It is available in 26″ and 29″ varieties and weighs 9 lbs. You can plug in the FlyKly for additional power and achieve a 30 mile range. You can lock the wheel remotely. They have their own SDK for hackability. It also has an available light that is charged via a dynamo, which also has a USB port where you can plug and charge your phone. FlyKly is projected to ship in April or May of next year, and you can buy one with a $590 pledge.


These wheels look and perform remarkably similar to one another, and one (we won’t say which) might be derivative of the other. That’s okay with us. Just as there are Toyota Prius’ and Honda Insights, the world can probably stand to have more than one ultra-efficient, bicycle-based mode of transportation.

Via Fast Company

  • Tim Domenico

    The writer of this LIfe Edited news piece asked the question, “it’s not clear why it can’t be continuously charging?”

    Well, why can’t the Prius charge it’s batteries continuously, then you would never have to buy gas?”

    The Chevrolet Volt can recharge continually because it has a gasoline engine to do that, and you have to buy gas to do that. You would need to install a gasoline engine on your bicycle to accomplish that.

    I’ve built eight electric vehicle projects, five two wheel, two four wheel and one three wheel design, all based on bicycle components. You can’t charge any of them continuously on their own power because that violates one of the principle laws of physics. –tim–

    • David Friedlander

      hi tim. thanks for the explanation, but it still doesn’t quite make sense to me. both the prius and volt’s electric motors have a finite power supply–i.e. a full battery charge–supplied by a finite power supply–i.e. a full tank of gas. when one goes, presumably the battery, the other steps in. but it can only step in for so long as the tank of gas will eventually run out and no longer charge the battery.

      the copenhagen wheel has a finite power supply–i.e. the wheels battery–supplied by a renewable, infinite (to an extent at least) power supply–i.e. our legs. as long as our legs can continue to turn over, the gradual depletion of battery power could presumably be recharged continuously via regenerative force. i’m sure i’m missing something here however.

      • Darin Daby

        I’m sure the decision to have charging only take place on braking and coasting down hills is in recognition of the drag that must be created. David, I’m sure you’re technically correct,but that would put a serious dent in the pleasure of riding the bike when you don’t need the electric boost.

      • tjshire

        It takes energy to charge the battery. It takes energy to pedal the bicycle. Doing both at the same time takes more energy than doing just one or the other.

        In other words, simultaneously doing both would feel like constantly pedaling uphill. Yes, it’s theoretically possible, but not very enjoyable. Hence, the battery should only recharge under braking or with the wall charger.

        Also, any conversion of energy from one form to another necessarily loses energy, since no conversion is perfectly efficient. So using your muscle energy to charge a battery (first conversion) and then using the battery to power a motor (second conversion) results in more lost energy than directly powering a wheel with your muscle (pedaling).

  • Tim Domenico

    What you’re missing David is that it takes about 1000 watts to charge batteries (and several hours). A World class bicycle rider can generate about 745 watts (about one horsepower) riding in competition. If it takes 745 watts just to power the bike, there’s nothing left to charge batteries with. If the rider parked the bike on a special stand with the rear wheel powering an electric generator just for charging the batteries he would be going nowhere and take four hours of pedaling to put 30 minutes of riding into the battery. Needless to say, not a good trade-off. That’s why we plug electric bikes in between rides and overnight. I used to ride my electric bikes over a thousand miles a month (monitored by GPS) during testing, so I consider myself an expert.

  • Tim Domenico

    After further research it appears that a World Class bicyclist can generate about 400 watts of power continually (something just over 1/2 horsepower), and when you consider that Lance Armstrong could ride continuously on level ground at 30 MPH, this makes sense. A 100 yard sprinter can probably generate a full horsepower over 100 yards at just under 10 seconds, then must rest. Our legs are renewable, but are not an infinite source of power. If you’ve ever ridden 100 miles or ran a marathon you know well our legs do not provide an infinite source of power.

    Once you put all the previous discussion into a time frame reference you can well understand my point of either riding the bike, or using the same energy to charge a battery – you simply can’t do both at the same time, that violates any number of laws of physics.