Copenhagen Wheel Thoughts

George S.

Well-Known Member
There has been some recent press that they are taking orders. The weight, simplicity, and regenerative aspects are interesting. It has been around for four years, but the price point is noteworthy @ $700. You could buy an Insight I at Costco for $270 and have an ebike under a thousand. I'll let someone else be first. There is a good write up on the Wired Uk site.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hi George, I created a new Superpedestrian forum to discuss and moved your thread here. I really like your line of thinking for an ebike under $1,000 that's light, efficient and smart. This is what I was going for with the Clean Republic Hill Topper conversion but obviously it's less sophisticated. It did however, have a throttle mode which was perfect for getting started. This is one of the concerns I have with pedal assist only (and the Copenhagen wheel seems almost like no assist unless you are climbing or struggling?)

Is this the article you were talking about in Wired UK or is it something else? Great read either way, one thing that always catches my interest about this electric bike wheel kit is that it goes on the rear. That's awesome because it makes steering easier and applies force in the optimal location. The images I saw at first all showed the wheel on single speed bicycles but then I found this article and the video below that says it can work with 9 or 10 speed cassettes.


I also love how you activate regen mode by pedaling backwards! How clever... That's one of the toughest parts about putting on a BionX system after-market. You have to manually align and secure magnet sensors with the brake lever (and it only works with one brake lever). The backwards pedaling thing seems really cool, I wonder how you integrate the Copenhagen wheel with the cranks and bottom bracket?


Anyway, I'm really excited for this product and can't wait to try it out. Might be worth just ordering one or considering a drive out to Cambridge Massachusetts as they seem to have a limited number of demo units right now? Also, is this the bicycle you were suggesting to use for the conversion? The downside I see here is lack of suspension but at least it's affordable and lightweight. Diamondback has been around for a long time with decent products it seems. I wonder if the Copenhagen wheel will only work with 700c wheels or if you could put it on a mountain bike with 26" wheels?
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Court,

That's the link to Costco. I've noticed they change bike offerings a lot, but that is a good price for a volume bike from a high profile company. Probably '13 model year. I'm pretty sure you could find something from BikesDirect that would work. That was the article I saw on the UK Wired site.

I haven't seen any mention of the battery capacity. If the whole thing weighs 12 pounds, it's got to be a very small battery. It's more like a hybrid car. One of the problems with that one piece design is that you can't do much with the battery. Maybe there is a way to connect an external small battery mounted somewhere else.

There are a lot of questions, but if you put it on an efficient bike for part time assistance, it's a reasonable idea. When there are some units out there for people to test, any obvious problems will come to light. I hope it works. They are floating a lot of good ideas, but it would have to be durable product, at least to interest me.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Great point about the battery George, that's one of the tricky bits to figure out about some ebikes. Many times they will tell you watt hours but avoid sharing volts and amp hours to discourage comparisons. I agree that it would be a challenge to expand the battery capacity of this kit but it's interesting that they say the cells are removable for easy charging. I would not have expected that at all! Maybe one option would be to purchase an extra pack to carry along for extended range. Doesn't do much for power or overall weight of the bike but it could help with longer commutes and quick turnaround times vs. charging.

I'm also curious to see how the Copenhagen Wheel really works. The marketing is great, the video with graphics and young healthy people riding around is fun and exciting... but what's the reality of something like this? If it's not actually helping you along that much (besides the occasional hill) and it's always adding weight, opportunity cost (in terms of dollars spent) and inconvenience (having to charge it and keep it at the right temperature and inside etc.) then I'm not sure it's really that appealing to "young healthy people". Why not just use a regular bike or get a more powerful true electric bike with integrated throttle and pedal assist that has many modes and an easy to use interface?
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Court,

Apparently there is another product out there very similar to CW called the FlyKly.

Since they are trying to raise money, there is more information. I don't like the name but the Flykly is nine pounds. I'm impressed with the mechanical simplicity of the motor, but clearly it is driven by chips. The batteries are some form of lithium, so the 12 cells would be 36 volts. From the size I am guessing maybe 3500 mah per cell, for a total of 100 or 200 watt hours.

Clearly they are banking on the idea of smart control making a seamless integration of somewhat limited overall power. In the real world, where the cost of batteries is dropping, it's fair to ask if this will be enough. If the software is really clever and helps when you really need help, while regenerating as best it can, who knows?

Still, if you just look at the components, I like it because it shows why electric will win. The motors are just so simple, with the real complexity in the software.

I found some bicycles on Bikes Direct that would work for a bike plus power wheel under $1000, some with front suspensions. I would consider it for my 20 inch folder. Actually, any folder with inefficient wheels and clunky drive train would be perfect for a light and simple power module. Nothing to get in the way of the folding mechanism, maybe.

I'd like to see some hours on either of these wheels, see how they hold up.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Cool George, that's one of the other kits I'd love to review, great find. I've reached out to their but they are currently focused on the Kickstarter campaign so I'm not sure when I'll get to do the review. Your idea of using an electric assist motor for folding bikes is right on. One challenge is the smaller diameter wheels, whether there will be ebike kits for 24" wheels or not. If there are, the motor/battery system would likely take up the entire center area of the wheel and need to attach directly to the rim instead of using spokes.

One of my favorite folding electric bikes is the E-Joe Epik and it comes in two flavoris, one for off road and one for more city riding with fenders, a rear rack and lights. I just finished the review and linked it so you can see the bike in action. The price, performance and quality seemed pretty good and it might be worth getting one straight away vs. trying to mod your own folder given the limited availability of kits right now. Currently one kit that does offer 24" wheels is the Hill Topper by Clean Republic.
 
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Harry Barkley

New Member
FYI I just posted on the Leed thread regarding comparison with the Copenhagen Wheel. I am planning on getting a CW in June which is part of the second release. Looking for any reviews that might be out there from those who bought in Release 1. Thanks HB
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hope you guys enjoy the video review, let me know if you have any questions ;)
 

Risto

New Member
Hey guys I know its been some time since the last post here but I found an interesting video where the CEO and founder of Superpedestrian talks at length about the wheel. I'm from the UK and plan to move to London in the next few months and when I saw the Copenhagen wheel (and later the Flykly) I knew the technology was something that I wanted and have since been doing a fair bit of research about it.

The YouTube vid I found (posted a few days ago) was an hour long seminar and I learnt some things about the wheel that I haven't stumbled across yet on my reading around the net:

  • Superpedestrian are going through the regulatory stages before they can begin production and start getting the wheel into the hands of developers.
  • From what I understand they are thinking of two variations of the wheel - one with a serviceable battery (i.e. one that can be removed but only to replace with a newer one at the end of its life) and one with a removable battery that can be removed and charged in your home or office. The unit that can be charged inside will be smaller in size, but with obvious added benefits.
  • A lot of development has gone into the control unit. They had the people that built the control unit in the segway (something considered highly responsive) contribute to the development of the control unit in the wheel.
  • Other than the red casing and the motor, nothing inside the hub moves.
  • The unsprung mass of the hub itself was a concern but the looping spokes help structurally with this (a design element that was almost accidental).
  • The electric coaster brake captures about 50% of the energy created from braking which is supposedly comparatively high. Depending on the topography the regenerative braking can add somewhere in the region of 10 - 15% on the range of the bike.
I do wonder how the wheel compares to that of the Flykly in terms of day to day use. Both wheels from my perspective will be limited to 250w with a top assisted speed at around 15mph (EU law), so on paper they will be almost identical. I speculate that the thing that will set these two wheels apart is a more sophisticated control unit from the Copenhagen Wheel (unless the Flykly does really compete in this area), the possibility of a removable battery and its compatibility with a rear derailleur.

Does anyone have any insight on why I might choose one product over the other?
 
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George S.

Well-Known Member
These wheels have taken a very long time to get into commercial production. This suggests a lot of problems with the concept. I think if someone made it work and it caught on, the cost per unit could drop a lot. Since these units were announced, the ebike world has moved away from low cost transportation, to relatively fancy ebikes. The two markets that seem to be defined the best, in the US, are young trail riders and older retirees with a lot of disposable income.

You won't know if the two products are going to stand up to the rigors of a few thousand miles in varying weather conditions, until they have some units out there. There are certainly other ways to go, in this price range. It ends up being a pretty basic ebike, at a time when it's easy to buy a hub motor system for a hyper mass-production price, thanks to the millions of Chinese ebikes.

How many components on an ebike should be upgraded? You go faster, do you need better brakes? Will the frame of a regular bike be OK? Maybe you want more power than this (if the laws allow more power. The US allows a lot more power.)

What they are doing seems sound enough:

http://copenhagenwheel.tumblr.com/

Riide, which was a kickstarter campaign, had a much simpler bike. They still are not up and running, just taking pre-orders, months past the schedule. The Copenhagen is an MIT project. You would think they would have the brains to get the thing done, but it's way behind the schedule. They say they have thousands of orders or inquiries. Who knows. Flykly is a completely different design from the original. Are these 'development' bikes really worth the trouble? We'll see...

Here's a Kickstarter for a very basic kit, for a pretty decent price. But this developer is not pushing any technology:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1354698863/barak-electric-bicycle-conversion-kit-electrify-yo

Anyway, right now people are developing, hopefully buying, upscale mid-drive systems with high torque hill climbing potential.

The urban ebike as a simple and efficient way to get around seems to be a little lost, at least in America.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member

Great review Court.. I didn't realize that the battery could be removed and easily replaced with another to extend the range.

I didn't hear your impressions of how it actually performs compared to other DD systems. Adequate?
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Hey guys I know its been some time since the last post here but I found an interesting video where the CEO and founder of Superpedestrian talks at length about the wheel. I'm from the UK and plan to move to London in the next few months and when I saw the Copenhagen wheel (and later the Flykly) I knew the technology was something that I wanted and have since been doing a fair bit of research about it.

The YouTube vid I found (posted a few days ago) was an hour long seminar and I learnt some things about the wheel that I haven't stumbled across yet on my reading around the net:

  • Superpedestrian are going through the regulatory stages before they can begin production and start getting the wheel into the hands of developers.
  • From what I understand they are thinking of two variations of the wheel - one with a serviceable battery (i.e. one that can be removed but only to replace with a newer one at the end of its life) and one with a removable battery that can be removed and charged in your home or office. The unit that can be charged inside will be smaller in size, but with obvious added benefits.
  • A lot of development has gone into the control unit. They had the people that built the control unit in the segway (something considered highly responsive) contribute to the development of the control unit in the wheel.
  • Other than the red casing and the motor, nothing inside the hub moves.
  • The unsprung mass of the hub itself was a concern but the looping spokes help structurally with this (a design element that was almost accidental).
  • The electric coaster brake captures about 50% of the energy created from braking which is supposedly comparatively high. Depending on the topography the regenerative braking can add somewhere in the region of 10 - 15% on the range of the bike.
I do wonder how the wheel compares to that of the Flykly in terms of day to day use. Both wheels from my perspective will be limited to 250w with a top assisted speed at around 15mph (EU law), so on paper they will be almost identical. I speculate that the thing that will set these two wheels apart is a more sophisticated control unit from the Copenhagen Wheel (unless the Flykly does really compete in this area), the possibility of a removable battery and its compatibility with a rear derailleur.

Does anyone have any insight on why I might choose one product over the other?

These are brand new products and new companies that have no operating history.. An all in one electric bike kit! So the question that needs to be answered, and I can't, is, which company has enough capital or access to capital to stay in business? There will be many problems, and one company is in the Northeast, the other is int Italy (unless Fly Kly sets up something here).

If $800 doesn't mean much to you, and it's just a new toy then go for it.. Just realize you may end up with something that has no support after a year.

I've followed FLYKLY for a year now, and have watched them change and downgrade the specs.. I wrote them a detailed letter explaining that what they were originally proposing was not possible... And it turns out I was right..

So the FLYKLY now has a 30v controller with a 160 W-hr battery. It doesn't weight much becuase it doesn't have much capacity.
The Copenhagen design specs have been very steady for the last 2 years, so I would tend to beleive they've done more development and less re designing than FLYKLY. So the specs are far superior than the FLYKLY in terms of battery voltage and capacity.

Seeing that they are the same price, and Copenhagen has been in development longer and much less chaos, would pick them.. However, problems should be expected.... They should just be a phone call away!
 

Harry Barkley

New Member
Risto - Thanks for picking up the ball on the Copenhagen Wheel. I got in the second wave which was supposed to be released this summer but they didn't finish the first 1000 wheels that sold for a discounted $699 until July. No date set yet but they say they should be shipping by the end of 2014. Doesn't sound like any improvements for the second release. Only Red, no disc brake compatibility, 700 or 26" wheel sizes only etc. I was told the color availability and disc brakes may come out in future models but no promises. I can't speak to the comparative merits with the FlyKly as I really haven't researched it. I tried to get a Copenhagen Wheel test ride but my trip to Boston was one week before the start of this program last April. I will watch the video you made us aware of and start some research on the FlyKly wheel. Thanks again for your initiative. HB

Note- I originally replied to your email but I didn't realize it didn't Post. Court set me straight!! Thanks Court and Risto HB
 

Ben in Tuscon

New Member
Hi all . . .

Just got here yesterday and via another page on Electric Bike Review, a capsule summary of the Copenhagen Wheel
that contains fairly detailed electric specs (more so than Superpedestrian's own web site.) Worth retyping here that it's
a 48 volt, 6.17 amp hour (296 watt hour) pack composed of 18650 sized lithium-ion cells. It all sounds good and, like the rest of you, I'm very interested in hearing from the first wave of advance purchasers after they finally receive their wheel and have gotten to use them out in the real world. Like many who live in warmer climates, I've got some concerns as to how well it will work outside of the cooler confines of the Boston area.

I should also note that I first heard about the Copenhagen Wheel, like many here, in December of 2013, after the first media blitz accompanying the beginning of advance ordering. I also remembered reading about an autonomous e-bike wheel developed by MIT back around 2009 and this prompted an email to Superpedestrian asking about this. I received a quick and friendly reply from them, outlining the historical lineage. I have corresponded with Superpedestrain a few times since then with other minor questions. For instance, I was interested in knowing about the possibility of having the wheel built into a 650B rim of my own choosing (that's a size between the larger 700C and 26' ones already offered.) I was told that I could buy the hub with a set of their special spokes and suitable instructions that any local bike shop would need for lacing it up.

I hope they pull it off and I'm also rooting for success from FlyKly. Both entities have got more than a few of the early advanced purchasers not very happy with them, as the release date for the Copenhagen Wheel has shifted from spring 2014 to "before the end of the year." Meanwhile, the competing FlyKly wheel has also been delayed and has gone through a major design change over the early summer, now partnering with the Italian Zeus company. FlyKly has announced that it will begin to ship in October (ie: right about now,) so this should be an interesting fall.

Benjamin Nead

Tucson, Arizona, USA
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
They get a ton of good press. There was a thing on CBS News two days ago. The story is picked up from time to time, like:

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014...-to-hit-it-big-in-the-us-its-this-one/375167/

The one thing that works for them is that most Americans know about .00034% of what there is to know about ebikes. If people see it they will assume it 'is' an ebike, at least if it makes an impression. Like "Oh, that's how they work". Even though, up to now, no ebike has ever worked quite like that.

These are great bikes in the sense that they are designed for urban commuting, they don't push any of the regulations, and the price of admission is low. Yeah, you have to hope it works out.
 

Ben in Tuscon

New Member
You are correct, George. I saw the CBS News TV report and then headed over to Superpedestrian's Facebook page a day later, as you know they would
be mentioning it there. Note that whenever this sort of Facebook update is done by Superpedestrian now, they get more than their fair share of flak from
people who plonked down their money a year ago and are now getting (legitimately) a little impatient. The next few months are going to be very telling.

The reader comments on some of those early online articles from December 2013 tell you so much more about people out there than the product.
For everyone who was afraid that the CP might be too budget oriented (folks who probably know what e-Bikes really cost,) there are ten who complain
that $800 is way too high (probably kids who are only familiar with the falling price of smart phones that are made by the billions and not the cost of
mostly mechanical objects that is just getting introduced.)

Then, of course, we hear from the spandex-clad contingent, who thinks that anyone who isn't pedaling as aggressively as they are shouldn't be allowed
on a bike of any sort or suffering physically as much as they are in the pursuit of bicycling "enjoyment" (this gets into the whole dichotomy of people who
think of bicycles strictly as exercise or racing equipment and not as a viable transportation alternative . . . and, yeah, it is a kind of American macho
attitude, with Europeans, for the most part, thinking more clearly here.)

Ben in Tucson
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Have to give props to the people at Copenhagen wheel for trying to keep their original promise.. That's a decent sized battery 300 watt hour for an all in one wheel.. And a 48v it should have some nice zip to it. Also like that you can swap batteries on the go.

Wish them well.. and it appears they will provide a much more usuable ebike kit than FlyKly
 

robint

New Member
Hi Guys, just another hub motor with a tiny battery, but some nice concepts. Does anyone know if this can be fitted as a front wheel?
 

kmikz

New Member
No news on the release yet? I'm waiting for the first user reviews before committing to this. I like it more than the FlyKly.