Can This Invention Transform The City Commute?

New technology can change your bike into an E-bike

Ask anyone who commutes to work and they’ll tell you public transportation is the worst part of their day. Crowded buses, old dirty subway cars, and just forget about driving. So it’s more than a little surprising that commuters haven’t made the switch to a cleaner, healthier and cheaper option.

Manhattan draws a whopping 1.6 million commuters each day, according to census data, which is the most of any U.S. city. And while more than a million people would almost definitely complain about public transportation, only 1.1 percent of all commuters in Manhattan bike to work. Nationally, the average is even lower. Just 0.6 percent of all American commuters ride a bike to work, less than one percent.

Those numbers may soon be climbing with the release of the Copenhagen Wheel, a different take on the typical electric bike. This neat invention courtesy of the 2012 startup, Superpedestrian, Inc., has taken traditional biking to another level. Thanks to Bluetooth technology the single battery-powered wheel shares information with an App (available on iPhone and Android devices).

There are absolutely no wires or plugs: the 350 watt motor and the lithium 48 volt battery are all contained in the lightweight rear wheel. The wheel easily attaches to any bike, and unlike most electric bikes, there is no throttle.

As the user pedals the motor assists and eases off automatically. It is designed to pick up patterns in intensity and upcoming road conditions, and then react with a boost of power when needed. The App helps customize usage, offering options like turbo for the most assistance and eco for the least, according to a Mother Nature Network article. And though the wheel only weighs 13 pounds, the Copenhagen boasts cruising speeds of up to 30 mph according to the company.

This could be the new hottest item on every bike commuter’s wish list, and possibly some cyclists too. They weren’t looking to turn the bike into a motorized vehicle but instead keep the riding aspect essentially the same while boosting speed, distance and ultimately ease. The wheel is on sale now for $699, for the first thousand customers ($799 after those sell out), and they will ship the product come spring 2014.