Bicycles

Electric bike wheel eases off on dollars and pounds

Electric bike wheel eases off ...
The UrbanX replaces a normal bike's front wheel
The UrbanX replaces a normal bike's front wheel
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The UrbanX Eco has a 240-watt motor while the Booster has a 350-watt version
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The UrbanX Eco has a 240-watt motor while the Booster has a 350-watt version
The UrbanX has a range of 30 miles (48 km)
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The UrbanX has a range of 30 miles (48 km)
The UrbanX replaces a normal bike's front wheel
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The UrbanX replaces a normal bike's front wheel
View gallery - 3 images

Why buy a whole new e-bike, when you can just replace your regular bike's front wheel with one that has an electric motor? That's the thinking behind recent products such as the Omni Wheel, Electron Wheel and GeoOrbital Wheel. Singapore-based UrbanX has now also thrown its hat in the ring, with its Eco and Booster wheels – while their specs are mostly similar to what we've seen already, they're priced low, plus they're lighter than the competition.

Either UrbanX model can reportedly be swapped with a bike's regular front wheel in just 60 seconds.

Once in place and powered up, it will then augment the cyclist's pedalling power with its own integrated motor. The Eco has a 240-watt motor while the Booster has a 350-watt version, both of which are powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that can be removed from the wheel for recharging. Under typical use, one 1.5-hour charge should be good for a range of about 30 miles (48 km).

The UrbanX has a range of 30 miles (48 km)
The UrbanX has a range of 30 miles (48 km)

The motor-assist level can be selected via Bluetooth using an iOS/Android app on the rider's handlebar-mounted phone – that app also displays data such as current speed and battery charge level. Additionally, an optional bar-mounted controller allows the wheel to be used in a motorbike-like throttle mode. In this case, a top speed of 15 mph (25 km/h) is possible with the Eco, while the Booster manages 20 mph (33 km/h).

Both models are made from aircraft aluminum, and tip the scales at a claimed 15 lb (7 kg). By contrast, the other electric front wheels we've looked at weigh at least 20 lb (9 kg). Those other wheels also range in price from US$799 to $1,249, while the planned retail price of the UrbanX Eco is $699. The Booster should go for $799, matching the price of the Electron Wheel.

For now, though, the UrbanX wheels are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign – one that has already exceeded its funding goal. If all goes according to plan, a pledge of $299 will get you an Eco, with $399 getting you a Booster. A number of rim sizes are available.

Source: Kickstarter

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6 comments
nehopsa
I have been waiting for this for years. I followed on Gizmag previous iterations of the idea, starting with the first MIT design and later "Copenhagen wheel." None was there when I needed it in time/price/availability. Finally this looks practical and I just hope they will deliver on the promises.
JamesDemello
The pledge prices seem reasonable.
Daishi
Electric conversion kits used to be popular and a lot of eBike shop used to offer them a la carte or installed. This is a great idea that might be running a little close to being fashionably late to the party. Most ebikes are still over $4,000 but you are starting to see decent brands that aren't going to disappear in a week like Juiced Bikes selling models like Cross Current Air and HyperFat for $1,000. The Eco battery is only 3.5Ah and 36 volts vs the JuicedBikes at 8.8Ah and 48 volts. The HyperFat comes with a 750 watt motor and a 13.2 Ah battery and they ship assembled. The Eco kickstarter pricing is still pretty good but the final pricing puts it pretty close to some actually decent eBikes. Either way it's refreshing to see affordably priced eBikes and kits actually becoming available. This is still a solid idea and price.
windykites
Does this bike have regenerative braking? Probably not possible.
Nicolas Zart
I would not get a front wheel electric motor. They are heavy, unwieldy and just in the wrong place. A motor should be on the back wheel. I found BionX has a terrific electric motor that is a better contender.
http://ridebionx.com/
ljaques
OK, pretty good price, but you don't get a bicycle or tire, and the battery is only 3.5Ah, 1/3 to 1/5 of the norm. No wonder it's lighter and no wonder they give you two. As far as theft goes, it's gone in 60 seconds. Q: "Is it hard to install UrbanX on my bike?" A:"UrbanX is designed to make it easy to electrify your existing bike. Most users will be able to isntall[sic] it in under 60 seconds." For the minimalist urban rider, it should be great. BUT, for the DIYer, add another $150 to the price tag and get an xBay (no names!) import plus longer lasting 15Ah battery, motor-disconnect brake levers, thumb and pedal-assist controls, hub motor for either front or rear wheel with tire, controller, and case for the electronics. Add another $100-149 for a brand new basic mountain bike and you're still nearly under the normal price for existing base electric bikes. AFAIK, none of them use regen braking. It would likely take a much larger and costlier heatsink on the controller. I built a 36v 800w XreeCycle (no names!) bike with too-heavy lead acid batteries, but it's a top-heavy blast unless you're guiding it out the door and 90-degrees down the steps.