For the longest time (or a few months in the awesome world of new innovations and Kickstarter these days) I did not think anything was going to beat the Rubbee as the most simple solution for adding a motorized powertrain to your bicycle. But it seems like if you want better aesthetics and a lot more features, the FlyKly Smart Wheel seems like a more fitting match.
Designed to take the place of your existing rear wheel, it adds a motorized powertrain for assisting your pedaling efforts, apart from bundling a variety of sensors for monitoring its performance through an app. That means, you don’t just get electronic pedal-assist for easing the load on your tired legs — your bike gains a stable of useful smart functions, too.
The FlyKly Smart Wheel is an erstwhile standard bicycle wheel, with a covered panel that houses an ultra-thin electric motor and a gaggle of electronic components fitted onto the rim spokes. Motor is designed as a pedal-assist unit, so it only kicks in when you start pedaling (no motor-only riding for the lazy), then stops as soon as your legs surrender. It comes in different sizes and colors, with a design that should fit any standard bicycle frame. Even better, it installs just like a regular replacement wheel — no extra wires or fancy gadgets to mount anywhere on the bike.
With pedal assist running, the rider can push the bike to speeds of up to 20 mph for a max range of 39 miles. You can manually set the top speed the motor will run from the accompanying app, as well as monitor current speed, distance, travel time, and battery levels. The app also keeps a log of your cycling habits, along with suggestions for most efficient and safest routes. Oh yeah, the wheel comes with an onboard GPS chip, allowing you to easily locate the bike from the app in the event your neighbor borrows it again without permission.
Having built a fair share of electric bicycles myself, its nice not having to deal with controllers, charging and balancing batteries, making your custom wiring harnesses, the connectors that don’t match and many issues you are bound to run into while building something custom for yourself. Everything in this design is housed in the wheel itself. Off course this is by no means a match for LiPo powered Stealth Electric Bike clone you built in your garage, but seems like a pretty good step in right direction for folks who do not want to deal with too much complexity and want a simple electric bicycle design.
The catch? If you’re not the kind of person who splurges on your bike, there’s a good chance the FlyKly Smart Wheel will be more expensive than your actual bicycle. But considering everything this conversion package provides, its not a bad deal at all. They’re currently collecting preorders on Kickstarter, with pledges starting at $590 to reserve yourself a unit.