Bicycles

Hubless Reevo ebike pushes the limits of engineering ... and credulity

Hubless Reevo ebike pushes the...
A hubless cycle rolling down the street will certainly grab all kinds of attention; it looks surreal
A hubless cycle rolling down the street will certainly grab all kinds of attention; it looks surreal
View 10 Images
Your phone clips in as the dash, and a fingerprint sensor locks and unlocks the bike
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Your phone clips in as the dash, and a fingerprint sensor locks and unlocks the bike
Pop-up frame section houses a removeable battery
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Pop-up frame section houses a removeable battery
A very striking hubless design
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A very striking hubless design
Sidestand hides away in the frame
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Sidestand hides away in the frame
The Beno press kit provided a range of these "mansplaining" themed photos, which we have cut down to three examples in our gallery because we know your time is precious
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The Beno press kit provided a range of these "mansplaining" themed photos, which we have cut down to three examples in our gallery because we know your time is precious
She feigns interest so well you'd swear she's working for tips
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She feigns interest so well you'd swear she's working for tips
Our hero realizes she may be taller than him
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Our hero realizes she may be taller than him
A hubless cycle rolling down the street will certainly grab all kinds of attention; it looks surreal
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A hubless cycle rolling down the street will certainly grab all kinds of attention; it looks surreal
We'd be fascinated to know how the electric and pedal drive are transferred to the rear wheel
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We'd be fascinated to know how the electric and pedal drive are transferred to the rear wheel
Integrated lighting in the inner rims of the wheels provides LED headlights, brake lights and indicators
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Integrated lighting in the inner rims of the wheels provides LED headlights, brake lights and indicators
View gallery - 10 images

This eye-catching ebike offers 750 watts of power, about 500 watt-hours of battery, a long list of neat gadgetry and an impossible-looking pair of hubless wheels you can poke your arm right through. We'd urge caution when it comes to buying one, though.

"Spokes are so last year," says Seattle's Beno, a company name short for "be innovative." Well, spokes have been the last 4,000 years at least. They were one of the key achievements in the invention of the wheel, a device you may have heard of, and a pretty decent innovation themselves. Spokes do a terrific job of strengthening and stabilizing a wheel while keeping it lightweight. They're resistant to shocks from all directions and allow a wheel to be pulled back into shape if it suffers a slight deformity.

Hubless wheels, on the other hand, have basically one purpose in this application: to look cool. No small amount of effort has gone into accommodating them here on the Reevo; Beno has had to solve a ton of problems to mount, brake and steer these things. The team has also had to figure out novel drive systems to get power from both the pedal crank and electric motor to the wheel.

A very striking hubless design
A very striking hubless design

Look closely at the tires here; without a traditional rim, Beno has had to poke the inflation valves right through the rubber sidewall of the bike's Kenda hoops. Both front and rear wheel mounts essentially need to be single-sided, or else you wouldn't be able to change the tires without disassembling the thing. We're interested to know what the process of changing a tire is like, too; you can't just pull an axle to get the wheel off.

Still, to the credit of the team, they do appear to have solved all these problems and designed a bike that works without spokes. But you're making some big tradeoffs for the sake of grabbing people's attention. The company says it's stress-tested those wheels up to 265 lb (120 kg) of weight – but would you take this bike over bumps at any kind of speed, especially in the absence of suspension? Would you trust it to get you to work every day for a year?

It's telling that all the riding in the Indiegogo video is slow and careful. We wonder how much lateral wheel wobble needed to be cut; surely even steering the thing puts some torque on that gaping rim. We're interested to know how much rolling resistance these hubless wheels add into the mix – the team says range averages around 37 miles (60 km), which doesn't seem bad for the battery size. We also wonder how practical people will find a single-speed ebike, and how much of a step backwards those rim-mounted brakes will be compared to a typical disc setup.

The Beno press kit provided a range of these "mansplaining" themed photos, which we have cut down to three examples in our gallery because we know your time is precious
The Beno press kit provided a range of these "mansplaining" themed photos, which we have cut down to three examples in our gallery because we know your time is precious

It can certainly not be accused of lacking technology. Along with the long list of wheel-based problems the Beno team has had to deal with, they have taken on the task of making this one of the most gadget-packed bikes on the market as well.

There's a built in wheel lock, out of reach of bolt cutters, there in the frame, which is locked and unlocked by a fingerprint sensor. Great idea. There are anti-theft sensors and GPS tracking to protect your investment. Outstanding! There's a retractable, hidden kickstand, which is nice. A phone cradle turns your smartphone into the dash, which we're neither here nor there about.

The lights are interesting. Because the inner rim of this bike essentially stays still while the tire assembly rotates around it, Beno has been able to fit "autonomous" LED lighting to the front and rear wheels in the form of a low-slung headlight, brake lights and even rear indicators. These turn themselves on automatically as the ambient light gets low.

Integrated lighting in the inner rims of the wheels provides LED headlights, brake lights and indicators
Integrated lighting in the inner rims of the wheels provides LED headlights, brake lights and indicators

There's no question, this bike would be an arresting sight rolling down the street. And the early-bird pricing is impressive at US$1,999 a unit; that'd be pretty dang decent for a regular ebike with those tech goodies built in, let alone a machine for which so many new designs are needed and for which so many off-the-shelf parts won't fit.

We also have some nagging doubts about whether this company is trustworthy, particularly given that the last hubless bike we covered with lights in the rims – the Cyclotron of 2016 – took nearly US$200 grand's worth of customers' hard-earned on Kickstarter before disappearing into thin air and leaving nothing but a trail of tears in the comments section.

Is Beno somehow related? There's no smoking gun to suggest so. But there's not much on Beno's Indiegogo page to give us peace of mind either. None of the team members are presented with surnames we can link to a real person, although CEO "Alec" did bravely throw himself to the wolves in a highly skeptical Reddit thread to defend the company's honor a couple of weeks ago.

And to be fair there's nothing necessarily shady about having a headquarters in Seattle but a registered business address in a giant anonymous box of a building in the well-known tax haven of Delaware. As Cycling Addicts points out, some 250 other companies have the same address. It's a legal way to dodge state taxes. Likewise, there's nothing at all inherently bogus in the idea of manufacturing and prototyping in Penang, Malaysia.

Your phone clips in as the dash, and a fingerprint sensor locks and unlocks the bike
Your phone clips in as the dash, and a fingerprint sensor locks and unlocks the bike

So we'd simply say this: you're looking at an attractive, but likely impractical, product that appears to be going for an extremely low price given the design and tech involved, from a company that seems to have popped up out of nowhere.

We certainly don't want to lay a steamer on a young team's genuine efforts, if that's what they are – and genuine time and effort have certainly been spent to develop a prototype that even looks like it works in the video. It's certainly an innovative machine, even if the central innovation sacrifices utility for cosmetics. But we'd say Beno can definitely do more to inspire trust in a world where people have already lost their shirts over these kinds of crowdfunded products.

We look forward to seeing how this one develops; at the time of writing, the Reevo has pulled in nearly half a million US dollars, smashing its fundraising target nine times over. So we'll be finding out one way or the other in time.

The team's pitch video can be viewed below.

Reevo - The Hubless Ebike

Source: Reevo Indiegogo

View gallery - 10 images
12 comments
Booleanboy
All that effort expended on designing the wheels and none left for the frame of the bike? What an ugly, bloated monstrosity!
David V
Stunning. I love hubless wheels. But they never hang around for long. All the motorbikes (expensively) designed with these have disappeared. Nice to see them back again on a bicycle. Seems a cheap starter price for such tech though. But for me, the best thing about bicycles... is that they are so simple to service, repair a flat, brake pads... get me ?
paul314
So if the interior parts of the wheels don't rotate, why didn't they go whole hog and offer panniers? (I know unsprung weight, but still it would look cool.)
Scott Sloan
“Bloated” is a little strong. Cannondale produced an arguably revolutionary Raven with magnesium and carbon fiber frame in the late ‘90’s for weight savings and it was spectacular.
jerryd
All this is a tracked vehicle only with a round track running on drive bogies/wheels and there certainly is a rim the tires is put on, fairly like a normal one, just without spokes.
No reason for it to be weaker, just design it right and since a large built in reduction, can be quite powerful in torque.
You could even make it into a suspension by designing the composite parts correctly. I do it in my wind turbine blades where they are flat for high rpm, power in lower wind speeds and pitch for high speeds without parts, just how the blade as laid up.
This gives me about 50% more electricity than a fixed blade.
You can see how it is attached, steered just like a regular bike, just the forks are very short and shown in the pic.
As for the frame, it holds the battery and looks very advanced, lightweight as the bigger section cuts loads so the walls can be made thinner..
BlueOak
A highly appropriate dose of technological engineering cynicism by Loz about whether this gadget will successfully function in the real world.

Hopefully they invested in a bearing company to fill that long wheel diameter space. How are weather and grit reliably prevented from entering such a long bearing trace? Especially a located so closely to the point of forces acting against it, with only the tire - and no spokes - to suspend and isolate it?

With this Rube Goldberg solution to an eBike, solely for the purpose of showing off, one wonders economically, after spending all that money on the spokeless wheels, how much is left over for the rest of the bike? Especially with a price of $1,999 that is not much higher than existing solidly made mainstream eBikes.
nick101
Having two contact points would make me feel a lot better about something like this, and it IS cool looking. Why not a dual contact in a 45 degree array? That would seem to be a lot better. I'll wait for those.
Fred Schechter
1992 and Franco Sbarro would like a word Loz. This isn't new and it works.
János Simon
I am skeptical, the rim must be thick and heavy to hold a wheel out of Center Point. I am not convinced how it performs in mud or dirt. A traditional bike is far more lightweight - than more efficient. In my eyes, this solution is nothing more than a gimmick. Would fit into a Marvel movie.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The hub area is a great place for cargo, except for steering inertia in front. This design doesn't need any rim brakes as it can have always on regenerative braking. Weight is saved by eliminating the gear train and moment arm in the wheel. Rim drive provides the lowest loss for regenerative braking. I was skeptical at first but I think I have sold myself on this!