Well, dang. For the first time in my miserable mechanic life, I'm here to tell you about the benefits of an electric bicycle accessory. Mostly. The currently Kickstarting GeoOrbiter wheel has been cruising around the internet at well above its claimed 20mph top speed, turning heads and utterly destroying its campaign goal. And, to my purist chagrin, it seems to have earned its digital fame.
The GeoOrbiter is a self-powered wheel, using a mechanism similar to the TRON motorcycle. It can push you up to 20mph in 6 seconds, go up to 20 miles without pedal assist, and will fit most rides with 700c or 26" front wheels. It straps in very quickly for an electric assist, and has a removable/additional battery pack for folks who need additional power.
The Panasonic 36V removable Lithium-Ion battery features regenerative braking, and can roll an estimated 50 miles with pedal assist, 30mi. for the 26" model. The handlebar mounting throttle gives you easy access and control, and the whole thing comes off in seconds if you need to take it with you when you park. The included tire is a solid foam "flatproof" design, which probably rides like crap but skirts many of the fit difficulties between proprietary rims and standard issue tires.
The battery can even be used as auxiliary charging device. It has a USB port and can charge phones, lights and other accessories, while mounted or removed. If all the connections are as tight and right as they ought to be, this is easily the most user-friendly design for an assist I've seen.
While I can't imagine this tech is going to appeal to hardcore cycling enthusiasts (just check out the wildly unergonomic seat height in the video), the much wider range of sometimes-riders could get a lot of mileage out of it. For super long commutes, or if regular riding tires you out (and that seat position might have something to do with it), juicing up your bike can definitely increase mobility.
The inevitable downside of an electric assist is its weight. The GeoOrbiter weighs 17-20 pounds, though they estimate it will net less, assuming your front wheel weighs a thunking 6 pounds to start. Either way, this is a significant amount to have located in the front wheel where it will affect balance and handling, especially important while turning. How noticeable, and whether it's manageable, will likely depend on the bike and rider… but of the few turning shots in the video, all the curves looked quite wide.
A reader recently (and incorrectly) argued that adding a pound to your bike is irrelevant for anyone but a professional racer, but if you're a very casual rider pounds can be treated with less regard if it makes the ride itself more approachable. And if you have to add weight, keeping it low and focused around the rotational areas can help diminish perceived heft while riding.
Certain claimed benefits do give me pause. The insinuation that you might "need to accelerate faster than cars at an intersection" is a little questionable, since drivers already have a difficult time predicting bikes' behavior, speed and distance. Throwing moped zippiness onto a bike can get you through more yellow lights, but it might complicate safe navigation by other vehicles around you.
But by and large the biggest complaint I've seen is the cost. With an earlybird price tag around $600 and expected "regular" price of $700, is the mobility of an electric assist worth the price of a new (lighter) bike?
What say you?
A desktop CNC milling machine can be a practical addition to your prototyping or small-scale fabrication operations.
3D modeling has been a part of the profession of industrial design since before computers were even conceived.
With so many online learning platforms out there, it can be hard as a designer to decipher where to go...
We are building this list as a resource for designers who are looking for a starting point in picking a...
In the 1990s 3D printing was adopted by forward-looking design studios for prototyping – it was not widespread though for...
Community driven, engineering oriented, detailed and aesthetic, 3D printing oriented, royalty-free, paid, free.
Technology can be a great help when it comes to organizing your research on an ongoing project or in new...
Don't have an account? Join Now
Create a Core77 Account
Already have an account? Sign In
Please enter your email and we will send an email to reset your password.
On the need to out-accelerate cars at intersections - that's from a standing start when the light turns green.
I'd like to know how much, if any, resistance there is when the motor is not in use.
While I can't comment on a single pound of weight, I can imagine 17-20 lbs would be noticeable, not because of the performance, but because of the balance.
I can see this being a hit with the takeout delivery guys. Beyond that, it can filed under the same category with the Segway and all varieties of hoverboard/electric skateboards.
I would not say weight is irrelevant, but most people (except professionals or racers) could save weight by losing weight - and save a lot of money. that said I would not see this add-on as a weight issue, as people that will use this are likely not interested in weight. The front wheel weight would definitely affect handling, but I can't see someone with a throttle zipping through traffic - you would hit a car. one other issue I would be interested in is wheel warping. With no spokes, can it be trued, or do you need to buy a new wheel? There are no doubt trade-offs, but overall I think this is nice design.