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E-Bike Wheel Stores Power, Data for Future Use

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October 25, 2013

With a new design, bicycle riders can provide their own power even when they're not pedaling.

A Boston start-up is using an MIT-designed e-sensor technology to augment an existing bicycle wheel to turn a normal bicycle into an e-bike, all with the use of rider-generated power. A built-in battery and sensors gauge how much effort the rider is putting into each pedal stroke and then makes up the difference when the energy decreases, as when a rider goes up a hill. Thus, the bike is a true hybrid.

Manufacturers say that the bike doesn't need a heads-up on when to apply more power because the onboard sensors to that work as a matter of course. The motor also stores energy in a high-capacity lithium battery when the the rider pedals in reverse, or when the rider applies the brakes (so going downhill saves energy that way and also saves the rider's energy by not requiring any legpower).

About the only drawback is the battery, which will store enough power on its own for just 15 miles before needing recharging. But that's unaided energy use; the more the rider chips in with his or her own power (either by doing all of the pedaling or by helping store energy by braking or pedaling backwards), the longer the e-bike experience will last.

The wheel can also store data about its surroundings, including atmospheric and traffic conditions, and then export to a mobile device or computer, to help riders plan routes.

The wheel-makers say that their product will fit on most standard-size bicycles and that riders can have them as early as 2014.


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