Transport

This bike wheel of the future will turn everyone into a super-pedestrian

By Oliver Smith 5 October 2017
Summary

The “crucial missing link in transportation”?

Assaf Biderman spent over a decade examining the many crises afflicting our cities as associate director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab.

Overpopulation, a lack of housing, both leading to the sprawling size of modern cities, all of which are placing an immeasurable strain on our transportation networks.

Now, after diligently working for the last four years, he’s ready to show the world his solution.

Assaf Biderman, CEO of Superpedestrian.

Driverless disaster

“We’re dealing with what we think is a crucial missing link in transportation,” Biderman told The Memo.

No, he’s not talking about driverless cars, or ride-sharing, both of which are important in better utilising the largely empty cars that drive around, but both of which he found had fundamental flaws in his research.

“Is there really enough overlap between your origin, destination and route, and mine?”

The answer, in his opinion, is no. And even if travellers are heading in the same direction, journeys are likely to be asymmetric, leaving loads of driverless cars in one part of a city after completing a trip, when they’re needed across town.

The crucial missing link is one or two-person vehicles, which in Biderman’s mind means bikes.

But today’s bikes are simply unsuited to modern life.

Cycle-nation

“Bikes were invented some 150 or 200 years ago, since then the average city grew 20 times the size, but the bike stayed the same,” says Biderman.

“We’re not using bikes, not because we’re physically incapable, but because we’re living too far from where we work today.”

“We need to motorise the bicycle in order to make it relevant for today’s big cities.”

Superpedestrian is Biderman’s solution.

It’s “not a bike company”, although his first product is a rather unique bike wheel.

The Copenhagen Wheel

Electric bikes, or eBikes, are already a thing, using battery power and motors to double or triple the distance an average rider can reach – and we love the ones we’ve tried.

But they suffer two major problems; cost, and the average replacement cycle of a decent bike.

You may want an eBike today, and may even have the money to buy one, but do you need a new bike? Probably not, if you’ve splashed out £2,000 on a decent road bike it’s good enough!

That’s where Superpedestrain’s solution comes in, the Copenhagen Wheel is an electric wheel that can be quickly retrofitted to around 60% of road bikes on the market today.

At £1,499 it doesn’t quite solve the cost question – although that’s still cheaper than a high-end eBike.

But there’s a huge advantage from being able to take your existing road bike, adding a Copenhagen Wheel, and transforming it into a state-of-the-art eBike allowing you to travel four times the distance at 25mph with the same amount of effort.

That turns nearly any commute into a cool 30-minute cycle, no sweat required, and it’s on sale in the UK and Europe today for the first time.

Biderman says its ability to fit any bike is a game-changer – now every bike is a potential eBike.

And every pedestrian is now a super-pedestrian.

Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen Wheel is available at the Tokyo Bike store in London, or online.