Remember the unreal hype a few years back about the Segway, codenamed Ginger, and how it was going to change the way we travel? Well it didn’t but this clever new invention could incrementally and positively change urban travel.
Made in Brooklyn, New York, the FlyKly Smart Wheel is a simple replacement for the rear wheel of your already-owned bicycle. Keep the bike you love!
This wheel replacement is an electronic motor with battery and controller mounted in a wheel. The 250 watt motor doesn’t completely replace the rider from pedaling but is an assist so there is never a need to pedal hard.
Cleverly, the device is controlled with a smart phone app that also can disable and track the wheel should it be stolen. Very smart for areas that have high bike theft rates and criminal rings chopping them.
Another feature intelligently brought over from the hybrid automobile world is the regenerative charging of the battery while going downhill. That’s right, just like your hybrid Lexus when you hit the brakes, this wheel charges when you stop pedaling and are traveling downhill.
My two key concerns when looking at the FlyKly Smart Wheel are:
Where are the components manufactured? This matters as Chinese made batteries are notably environmentally unfriendly.
You still have to ride a bicycle! Do people in Minneapolis, Chicago, or New York really want to ride a bike in the winter?
I see interesting possibilities in cities where bicycles are already popular and could expand on the population using bicycles for transportation. At $590, however, this is a first world solution that faces a price barrier in poorer countries that might need the transportation help and potential reduction in air pollution.
If you are interested in getting on the bandwagon early and being near the front of the line for ordering one, head on over to the FlyKly Kickstarter campaign.