Depending where you live, electric bikes are all the rage. They make riding a bike easier than ever and are giving millions of people around the world the ability to go further with less effort. Whether you're a baby boomer looking to get around easier on a bicycle, a commuter that's looking for a fast, efficient and sweat-free way to get to the office or you're a cargo bike owner committed to living a life without a car, electric bikes give you a new found freedom on a bike.
In Europe and Asia, e-bikes are dominating the local bicycle markets and consumers there have widely adopted electric bikes as their preferred way of getting around. Here in the US however, e-bikes still represent a fraction of bike sales and even though they are the fastest growing category of bikes, their small numbers still barely move the needle in terms of volume.
In my opinion, one of the biggest hurdles to buying an e-bike is the cost. Most electric bikes start at around $2500 and can go all the way up to $5000 depending on the model you choose. To most people that price point is out of reach so the market here in the US mostly consists of aging boomers and more affluent riders with money to spend. As more companies get involved with electric bikes, like anything, the costs will go down but for now options for affordable complete electric bikes are limited.
The Copenhagen Wheel from Superpedestrian was designed to break down the cost barrier and makes e-bikes affordable and available to anyone that already owns a bike. Developed by a bunch of smart people out of MIT, the Copenhagen Wheel is a complete system of hardware and software designed to turn any bike into an electric bike. The idea behind the product is very simple, but it's actually packed with tech and is a great alternative for someone looking to get an e-bike.
We've recently partnered up with Superdestrian and they are selling Fyxation bikes on their site fully equipped with a Copenhagen Wheel. They help us put the "e" in the Eastside and our popular single speed is now available as an electric bike. The Copenhagen Wheel by itself retails for only $1499 and with our Eastside the price is an affordable $1949. Our shop here in Milwaukee is now a Copenhagen Wheel demo center and we recently brought one in to ride, review and test out.
The Copenhagen Wheel system consists of a rear wheel that you can simply install on your bike and an app that works on both Android and Apple phones. Once installed and the app is downloaded, your old bike is magically converted in a pedal assist e-bike that can go up to 25mph with minimal effort. We installed the Copenhagen Wheel on our Champion Eastside and within a few minutes we were ripping down the street.
Superpedestrian is an extremely well funded startup for any industry, but for the bike industry, the amount of backing they have is pretty much unheard of. At first we didn't quite realize where all those resources we're going, but once we put the Copenhagen Wheel on our bike, we realized it was money well spent. This system is packed full of technology and instead of having to use a throttle or make adjustments to the bike, you simply mount your smartphone to your handlebars and their intelligent app takes over.
There are 4 modes available for riding that provide different levels of assist and top speeds. Standard Mode provides contstant pedal assist and is designed for someone looking for a true electric bike experience. Eco Mode toggles back and forth between pedal assist and no pedal assist to help you get a little exercise and extend your range. Turbo Mode gives you a ton of torque and much higher speeds and is a bit like Ludicrous Mode on a Tesla. Careful in this one though because it really provides a boost and with the Copenhagen Wheel being rear mounted, you can actually pop a wheelie if you're not paying attention. Finally, Exercise Mode allows you to turn off the pedal assist and as you're pedaling you are actually generating electricity that then charges the battery as you ride. This is actually pretty slick and as far as I'm aware, there are no other e-bikes on the market with this feature.
We've ridden electric bikes from Faraday and a few others, and we have to say that the Copenhagen Wheel is one of our favorites. Because it is a rear wheel system, the Copenhagen Wheel pushes you instead of pulling like other front drive electric bikes. The system felt a lot faster than other e-bikes we've ridden and it was pretty quick to get up to top speed.
The system is compatible with either a single speed or a geared bike and the hub is spaced so that it can fit a traditional single speed with 120mm spacing and they include additional spacers to fit a geared bike with a cassette with spacing of 130mm or 135mm. It takes 2 hours to charge the battery up to 80% which is pretty fast in our opinion meaning the wheel can be easily charged between rides or while you're at work during the day.
One of the coolest features of the Copenhagen Wheel is that it offers regenerative braking just like a hybrid car. That means that when you brake, it's taking the energy/heat created and using it to charge the battery giving you longer life. That in addition to Exercise Mode makes this a very intelligent system that was designed to deal with the range anxiety most people get when riding an e-bike.
The only gotchas we could find on the Copenhagen were the weight (16.8lbs) and the fact that they recommend not running it below 14 degrees F. Here in Milwaukee this means it's not really a 4 season solution but honestly most people pack up their bikes in the winter so this really only affects the hard core rider or commuter.
Overall, we recommend the Copenhagen Wheel from Superpestrian and suggest you head over to one of their demo centers for a closer look. If you can't quite swing a $2500 e-bike and you have a bike at home, this elegant bundle of tech is a great solution. As mentioned earlier, the Copenhagen Wheel by itself retails for $1499 and the price with our Champion or Sunrise Eastside is only $1949. Available here on Superpedestrian's website.