Never heard of the Copenhagen Wheel? Allow us to get you up to speed.
Back in 2010, a small team of students at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab developed a novel bicycle attachment that could help solve urban transportation issues – a contraption that was later dubbed the Copenhagen Wheel. The device transforms your pedal-powered bike into an electric hybrid by replacing the rear wheel with one that’s equipped with a small motor assembly. This motor is mounted in the center of the wheel, and collects energy while you brake or descend. Over time that energy builds up, and can eventually be used to provide a battery-powered boost up hills or along flats. The team’s design ended up winning the prestigious James Dyson Award that year. But then it dropped off the map.
For a long while after winning the award, everything went quiet. No news about the wheel popped up for the better part of two years. But then, just a few months ago, tech blogs across the Web lit up with news that Superpedestrian, a Boston-based company founded by MIT SENSEable City Laboratory Associate Director Assaf Biderman (part of the original Copenhagen Wheel crew), announced they’d landed $2.1 million in funding to commercialize the Copenhagen Wheel. At that time, Biederman excitedly announced that the company was “less than 60 days away from introducing the first-ever commercial model of the Copenhagen Wheel.”
Today, roughly 60 days later, it seems they’ve fulfilled that promise. At long last, Superpedestrian has finally opened up pre-orders for the device.
The 12-pound Copenhagen Wheel is available for $700 in a single-gear configuration. Multi-gear setups will go for $800, but aren’t currently for sale. The first production run is underway right now at Superedestrian’s manufacturing facility in Massachusetts, and is expected to ship in Spring 2014. Wheels will be available in both road bike and mountain bike sizes.