My wonderful wife came across this and immediately shared it with me. I have to say, it is fascinating, and not without merit, although I noticed that it was launched in 2009 and this is the first I have heard of it. Perhaps this is because it has remained confined to the shores of Europe rather than through lack of popularity. Or may be it is because I am useless at searching for exciting new things on the inter web? Either way, I have never seen anything like it on Canada or the US, but if someone has, let me know.
So what is it? It’s called the ‘Copenhagen Wheel Project‘. It takes the bike that you already own, and turns it into “an electric bike with regeneration and real-time environmental sensing capabilities.” Awesome, right? Yeah I thought so too. There are no cables, no visible battery packs, in fact what you see on the left is it. This is what makes it retrofittable to almost any bicycle.
The wheel takes energy from cycling and also braking (much like the KERS system in Formula One…who says all the money spent in F1 isn’t helping us little people?) and stores it in batteries that are within the central rear hub. Also within the hub is the 3-speed internal hub, environmental sensors to measure air pollution, noise and relative humidity, as well as a motor that can assist you at the end of the day when you’re starting to flag a little.
What’s the best part? Well, that is of course very subjective depending on your tastes and how much of a techno-geek you are, but I was really excited by the fact that you can control the ‘wheel’ from the iPhone mounted on your handlebars. Not bad, hey? If you’re serious about the environment and want to help scientists gather up to the minute data in your city, then you can choose to share your rides. If you couldn’t give a monkey’s about the planet, then you can just share all the cool charts and graphs on Facebook or Twitter. But you’re not that unfeeling, are you?
Now I am not about to rush out and buy one of these, but I am curious to learn more about them. I like to think I would not take advantage of the motor in the hub, in fact I would probably customize it to come without the motor, which means you could also save some weight on batteries as well. The point is, you can customize the wheel, and I dare say it won’t be long before you can get some awesome after market decals for the red hub, so that it screams YOU. So many options.
I’ll let you know what decision I make.
If you want to learn more about the Copenhagen Wheel Project, you can click here.