While bicycles are great for their health benefits, of course paired with their transportation uses, there are times when you wish you could have some added boost to get through some added distance or some more challenging terrain. Electric bikes or e-bikes have answered that call, but not many are willing to trade in their faithful steed for some hi-tech replacement. Smart wheels, then, offer a bit of a compromise, and Evelo’s Omni Wheel is one that promises convenience and simplicity without sacrificing power.
You only need one Omni Wheel. Actually, you can use only one Omni Wheel to turn any old regular bike into an electric bike. There are other smart wheel attempts, but very few have come to market, most stuck at the Kickstarter stage. Aside from potential availability, Omni Wheel offers two distinct advantages over the competition. The first is that it replaces the front wheel of the bike. While there are certainly valid reasons to aim for the rear wheel, Evelo went for convenience and flexibility. It’s far easier to replace the front than the back wheel, and it also means you can keep on using your favorite gears even with an Omni Wheel attached.
The second advantage is that the wheel comes with its own wireless display that can be attached to the handle bar. Others would require a smartphone app. Although smartphone apps are more tech savvy and more feature laden, some riders perhaps don’t want to bring their smartphones always with them and some would prefer a simple readout of the crucial stats. It also gives would-be thieves less incentive, as a smartphone is always more attractive than a monochrome display.
Even with what might seem to be compromises, the Omni Wheel is no underpowered machine. On a single charge, it can go 25 miles, or 40 miles with the extended range 24 volt 14.5 Ah battery. Those batteries, made by Panasonic, can last a year of use before being replaced.
As for the price, Evelo’s Omni Wheel may be cheaper than similar wheels, but only relatively so. It still costs a good $999 on pre-order. Once it does start shipping, the price goes up to $1,199. And that’s for the 26″ wheel only. the 700c variant goes for $1,049 now, later $$1,249. Extended battery models add another $250 to the price tag.
VIA: Fast Company