E-bikes employ a whole range of cool technologies that are paving the way for future urban mobility. Considering the quick pace at which cities are growing today, efficient e-bikes are going to change the future of urban travel. In the second of a three-part series, this blogger takes you through interesting technologies that are set to become an integral aspect of travel in the near future.
The Wheel gets smarter
American startups are jumping in to the e-bike market with an interesting business line – Smart Wheels. The smart wheel is basically everything you need in an e-bike – sensors, battery, motor, controller and wireless communication all integrated into the hub of a bicycle wheel. So, all you need to do to smarten your bicycle into an e-bike is to change the rear wheel.
FlyKly, which media reports suggest was acquired by an Italian firm earlier this year, is a sought after provider of smart wheels. The FlyKly wheel comes along with a smartphone app which connects to the wheel via Bluetooth and gives the rider all information about the driving conditions of the wheel. The smart wheel also allows the rider to change the level of assistance that the wheel motor provides. At a $1,000 price point, this is an exciting technology and has a huge potential in the European and North American market.
However, FlyKly is not the only company designing fully integrated smart wheel system. Another similar system is the Copenhagen Wheel, designed and developed by MIT engineers and marketed by Superpedestrian, a startup having exclusive license to MIT’s technology.
FlyKly vs. Superpedestrian – Patent power
FlyKly’s Smartwheel and Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen Wheel have more in common than just the idea. Designed on the lines of patent WO2012026889 filed by a Slovenian electronics firm called Siop Electronika, FlyKly’s smart wheel is powered with an electric brushless motor that can start when the rotor is at any position. Superpedestrian, on the other hand, has an exclusive license to the MIT patent publication US20110133542. It describes a system that integrates several systems and devices into a compact unit that can be included within the spokes of a wheel.
The e-bike market is growing slowly but steadily across several important world economies. An eCycle Electric blog states that about 20 million bicycles are purchased annually by the 742 million strong European population, while about 15 million units are sold to the 316 million US population. This is where the e-bike is gaining popularity as a cost-effective and healthy alternative mode of transport. Markets in India, China and Thailand are also opening up to the concept of e-bikes and electric scooters. If this trend catches up, the e-bike could soon decongest urban roads and make road travel economically viable and healthier.
(Featured image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_gear-shifting_system)