Hipsters' gimmick or key to higher bike use?

Home/Health/Hipsters' gimmick or key to higher bike use?

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you noticed (maybe participated in) a “riding my bike” renaissance lately? In big cities in particular, with bike sharing programs and more bike lanes are added to the roads, people take their bike out again, for fun and sometimes to go to work too… That does not translate into bikes turning into our main means of transportation though. Uphill routes and simply the distance covered on a daily basis, not everyone have the calves for that! Well, if you’re into green, eco-friendly transportation and healthy living (daily heart workouts!), hence on the fence about logging in more bike-time, this may tip you over: Ever heard of the Copenhagen Wheel?

Researchers at MIT have engineered this smart, electric bicycle wheel able to store and release energy when needed.  The Copenhagen Wheel is a “wireless pedal assist system” attachable onto any kind of cycling bike. This technology, contained in a small red casing attached in the back wheel (you get both when purchasing a system) includes a motor, a removable battery, smart locking, multiple sensors, and an embedded control system.

Its promise? To help bikers in traversing different (read harder) road environments. How so? The battery inside the wheel stores energy when you apply the brakes, then return it when you need it most, by giving off an added push, 3 to 10 times the regular foot power! A hill coming up your way? Trying to merge into fast-moving traffic? Just plain fatigue from pedaling for a while? There’s a sensor inside the hub, literally measuring your effort when pedaling forward to figure out exactly when to release the stored energy.

But more than just an added boost to hard terrains, you can adjust the the provided assistance, records your daily riding patterns, environment, calories burned, distance, climbed elevation, and more related user statistics. The information stored can be shared on social media and among other Copenhagen Wheel users via the Superpedestrian App in any iOS or Android smartphones. Simply attached your device on your bike’s handle bars to connect it to the Red Wheel via bluetooth.

Here’s a recap video on the Copenhagen Wheel’s main features:

[youtube id=”http://youtu.be/S10GMfG2NMY” width=”600″ height=”350″ autoplay=”no” api_params=”&rel=0 “]

This is “Biking 2.0” or how to use electronics to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system. Just like we see as a more general trend: “Inserting intelligence in our everyday objects and of creating a smart support infrastructure around ourselves for everyday life” associate project director Assaf Biderman said in a statement.

Superpestrian Inc. is the company selling the Red Wheel and set its overall mission as one of  developing new technology for lightweight electric vehicles in sync with online systems. This specific device makes biking easier by bringing a physical effort-friendly technology, and might be one of the best contributions existing as of today to increase the use of bikes for commuting, traveling, or going just about anywhere our daily schedule takes us to. 

The price for Copenhagen wheel is now at $799, still steep, but if it may forego the need for a personal car or monthly public transportation subscriptions, the math may be worth considering. You can check out their website at superpedestrian.com or on their Facebook page.

Reducing our use and need for not-so-green cars, even public transportation, and double-good-tasking as we go places and do some heart-friendly exercise, now that sounds like a green, eco-friendly plan worth-considering!

Do you ride your bike at all and would you consider adding such device on it so you could use it more often?


Credit photo: smartplanet.com

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