Anyone who has ever messed with electric bike conversion kits will be familiar with the controller with its tangle of wires and sockets, and attaching a battery somewhere on the bike frame.
There has been some progress in simplifying the procedure. The number of separate socket pairs for the wiring up has been reduced. The 8 wires going to the motor are now commonly connected by a single multipin socket, and sensorless motors needing only 3 wires are now available.
Golden Motor has been producing motor wheels for several years that have the controller within the wheel. For those the throttle, brakes and power lead connect directly to the motor wheel.
I have electric bikes that have their battery within the rear wheel hub in a case like the case of a direct drive motor.
The logical next step would be to have battery, controller in with the motor in its case around the hub. That had to happen and now several companies are producing, or about to produce, such an integrated all-in-one motor wheel.
These “smart wheels” make a simple neat e-bike conversion…for just about any bicycle. As well as being simple you get to keep the old bike, so to speak. There is no battery, controller, rear rack, and wiring to remove. You can simply swap out the smart wheel for the old wheel, and un-convert your bike.
There is not even the wiring from handlebar to the controller in the wheel because the wheel is smart enough to get its control and send its feedback (and as much data as you’ll ever want) by wifi either to a smart phone or device mounted on the handlebar.
THE ELECTRON WHEEL
The first wheel of this type to be actually produced is available now from Currie Technologies (www.currietech.com) in US at $US999 ($Au1120 + shipping) and I don’t think it is available anywhere else. At present it is only made for 26″ front wheels. It is less sophisticated communication wise than the wheels by other companies that will be available later in 2014.
There is no throttle as with most conversions and the other all-in-one wheels. The wheel has “a mind of its own”. Sensors within the wheel detect your accelerating and your going uphill and THEN add power,
and vice versa reduce power when you slow down or go downhill.
The assistance is always there, more or less. If you want to ride without assistance you change back to the original wheel. (which is easy and quick). Another limitation is the range. The system is 24v and the 10AH battery has less range than the 36v wheels.
For more about this wheel including video : www.electronwheel.com
The next wheel likely to be available is Flykly. They are getting this into production by crowd sourcing from Kickstarter. They say it is only 4kg and that is 4 or 5 kg less than the usual battery + motor. Given that there is no way of reducing the weight of a lithium battery of any given voltage and AH that implies that the range will also be less.
This version of the all-in-one conversion wheels is 26″ rear wheel. (20″ version may be available). This wheel has onboard sensors and also wifi connectivity to your phone. It comes with a handlebar light which has a mount for your smart phone, which becomes your interface with the motor. You get the usual readouts of speed and distance etc and you control the assistance you want.
Enough people pledged to put money upfront for a wheel and now it will soon be in production with the first wheels going to those who pledged – in May, they say. You can read about them and see video at www.kickstarter.com/projects/flykly/flykly-smart-wheel
A similar more sophisticated wheel called the Copenhagen Wheel will be produced in 2014. As with the FlyKly wheel this version also has wifi phone controls, also including locking, GPRS tracking, and various sensors of noise and pollution.
To quote from the Copenhagen Wheel website:
“Smart, responsive and elegant, the Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for urban mobility. It transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need
a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion,
and road conditions in real-time”.
You can read about this project and see a video at www.superpedestrian.com
The Copenhagen Wheel is also now available for pre-order (US$699 + US$79 delivery) with delivery said to be around March 2014.