Start-Up Reinvents the Bicycle Wheel; “The Copenhagen Wheel” transforms a normal bicycles into a hybrid e-bike

OCTOBER 21, 2013, 8:59 PM

Start-Up Reinvents the Bicycle Wheel

By NICK BILTON

bits-wheel-tmagArticle

“The Copenhagen Wheel” transforms a normal bicycles into a hybrid e-bike.

It’s rare that a company comes along and reinvents the wheel, but it looks like that is about to happen. Superpedestrian, a start-up in Boston, announced on Monday that it has received $2.1 million in financing to help build a wheel that transforms some standard bicycles into hybrid e-bikes. The product, the Copenhagen Wheel, is a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology SENSEable City Laboratory. The original goal of the wheel was to entice more people to more bicycles in large cities in lieu of cars by giving them help from a motor.“If you think about today’s cities, they have been developed for the state of the automobile, with people being required to travel great distances that are quiet large,” said Assaf Biderman, founder of Superpedestrian and associate director of the SENSEable City Lab. “Most cities are built around topographies that require motorized transport and it can make cycling and walking very difficult.”

Superpedestrian’s solution is to slip a motor into an existing analog product: the bicycle.

While the new wheel is still round, it has technology that makes it different from most normal bike wheels.

The Copenhagen Wheel replaces the rear wheel of a bicycle. It includes a motor powered by a built-in battery and sensors. When someone pedals with the new wheel in place, the bike uses sensors and an app on a smartphone to measure the amount of effort the rider is putting into each pedal. It then offers an additional boost when necessary.

One of the most interesting components of the new wheel is that the rider doesn’t need to tell the bike when help is necessary, the wheel just figures it out using the sensors and gives the bike a push.

“Riding on a flat surface, or up a hill, will feel exactly the same,” Mr. Biderman said.

The wheel doesn’t need to be charged or plugged in on a nightly basis, either. Instead, the wheel captures the energy from the brakes when a rider goes down hill and then stores that power in a high-capacity lithium battery. The motor also acts like a generator, creating power for later rides when the rider pedals in reverse.

The company said the wheel will last for 15 miles in each direction and will fit on most standard bicycles.

Superpedestrian is expected to start taking orders for the wheel next month and will begin shipping to customers at the start of next year.

The financing round is being led by Spark Capital with participation from David Karp, the founder of Tumblr.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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