Vekkit aims to streamline ebike conversions
There are now a number of kits that let you convert a regular bike into an ebike, by replacing the front wheel with one that's powered. Like the Swytch kit before it, the Vekkit is claimed to offer a better approach.
The problem with most "powered wheel" setups lies in the fact that if you want to use your bicycle as a plain ol' non-electric bike, you have to go through the hassle of swapping its original non-powered front wheel back in. Although it is possible to leave the powered wheel in place and simply switch the electrical assistance off, the weight of the wheel's battery, motor and electronics will make pedaling quite a slog.
The Polish-designed Vekkit system addresses this problem, by moving the battery and electronics into a compact handlebar-mounted bag. Because the wheel now only contains the hub motor, it's light enough to be left on the bike full-time. The bag is quickly removed via a quick-release mount, on rides where electrical assistance isn't needed.
A crank-mounted sensor transmits real-time cadence data to a control module in the bag, letting it know when to trigger the motor to provide its boosts. Riders utilize an iOS/Android smartphone app for things like checking the battery level and selecting the amount of assistance, although a bar-mounted remote can also be used for the latter.
Depending on the sort of riding they plan on doing, buyers can choose between 200- or 250-watt motors, and 252- or 360-Wh lithium-ion battery packs. The batteries should deliver ranges of 20 to 50 km (12 to 31 miles) or 40 to 75 km (25 to 47 miles) per 2.5-hour charge, respectively. With either motor, the top assisted speed is limited to 25 km/h (16 mph).
And yes, it should be noted that the existing Swytch kit works in much the same way. According to Vekkit's designers, though, their setup has some key differences.
Among these are the fact that because the cadence sensor is wireless, only one wire runs out of the handlebar bag. Additionally, because that sensor utilizes a gyroscope instead of magnets, it's claimed to be more sensitive at detecting pedal rotation. The Vekkit's FOC (field-oriented control) motor-control system is also said to be more effective than Swytch's sinusoidal system, plus both the wheel and the bag can be locked in place when the bike is left untended.
You can buy a kit via the link below, with prices starting at €600 (about US$665) depending on the package selected. Swytch is still in the pre-order phase, but should retail for $800 to $1,300, again depending on the model.