Superpedestrian, a startup born at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, is launching its first product internationally.
Called the Copenhagen Wheel, the red-hub wheel can convert any bike into an electric (and smart) mode of transportation. The bike is already available in 44 US states, but Superpedestrian has announced it will sell the Copenhagen Wheel in the United Kingdom and Europe for the first time.
Scroll down for a closer look at the product:
Behold, the Copenhagen Wheel. The wheel can attach to any ordinary bike, but you can also choose to purchase it with a bike as a package deal for roughly $2,000. The wheel alone is the bulk of that cost at $1,500.
That may sound like a lot, but high-end bicycles can easily go for $1,000 without the added electric motor.
The bike is meant to serve as a main mode of transportation in crowded cities where owning a car is too expensive, Superpedestrian CEO Assaf Biderman said in an interview.
'The distances most people are required to cover on a day-to-day basis, these have grown too large for non-motorised transportation,' Biderman said.
The Copenhagen Wheel comes with an accompanying smartphone app that acts as a digital key, allowing owners to control when it's activated. The wheel measures the rider's torque, cadence, and speed to deliver boosts of power at the right time.
Putting the motor in the wheel was key because it allows the Copenhagen Wheel to deliver power at the exact moment a cyclist would need it, Biderman said. If the motor was placed anywhere else, the power delivery would be delayed, affecting the quality of the ride.
'When you're making a vehicle that's very small and electric it needs to communicate with a human body seamlessly,' Biderman said. The wheel can boost a rider's power output by 20 times, but the user ultimately gets to choose what power delivery they want on the smartphone app by selecting one of three modes: Eco, Turbo, and Exercise.
Superpedestrian has raised $28.5 million to date from backers like Spark Capital and General Catalyst. Tony Fadell, the former CEO of Nest, has invested an undisclosed amount in the company.
Biderman co-invented the Copenhagen Wheel when he was associate director at MIT's Senseable City Lab in 2009. He and others left the lab in 2013 to form Superpedestrian. They started selling the Copenhagen Wheel in US stores in April of this year.
Biderman, pictured here, said he hopes the Copenhagen Wheel will help reduce congestion in cities by providing people with a smaller, personal vehicle that doesn't take up as much space as a traditional car.
'Unless we rethink our mobility fundamentally, our cities will get more and more packed,' he said. 'That's what attracted us to the bicycle as a starting point.'
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