UrbanX has developed what it believes is a revolutionary e-bike offering, but there’s a catch — it only comes with one wheel. In fact … that’s the product. UrbanX has developed an electric wheel replacement solution that upgrades a normal bike to an e-bike in fewer than 60 seconds.
One (Electric) Wheel to Rule Them All
Operating off of the knowledge that millions of people around the world already own a bike and would love the added convenience and thrust that comes with an e-bike, UrbanX set to work developing a solution to this quandary. After the dust settled and the team came out of the haze of weeks of long hours, two new products were born — the 240 watt UrbanX Eco and the 350 watt UrbanX Booster.
Admittedly, not everyone owns a bike, but there are already millions if not billions of bikes being used around the world, especially in Europe (I’m looking at you, Amsterdam). Many of these bikes could benefit from a retrofit / instant upgrade solution like this one. An optional thumb throttle enables an extra level of control for riders who don’t like the passive pedal assist or for control freaks looking for a leash on the beast.
Founder and CTO of UrbanX Eric Chow lays down the foundation for why UrbanX came into being:
“This urban transportation revolution, due mostly to common city problems such as congestion, pollution and parking woes, has inspired various electronic developments designed to make urban commuting more efficient and rider-friendly. UrbanX has taken these advances and created an economical solution that democratizes e-bike technology for all riders.”
Under the Hood
These UrbanX Electric Wheels, now in their second generation, are powerhouses. While we haven’t had a chance to run them through the paces ourselves (yet), the promise of a simple retrofit that adds power, batteries, and intelligence at what feels like a very reasonable price is an attractive offer.
The UrbanX Electric Wheel is crafted out of aviation-grade aluminum and weighs in at a slim 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms), including the battery, so it won’t make your bike uncomfortably difficult to handle. The light weight doesn’t mean the team skimped on strength, as the wheel is rated to handle up to 300 pound (136 kilogram) loads.
The hub gets its juice from a 36-volt, 3500 mAH Panasonic lithium-ion battery that enables up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) of pedal-assisted range. Additional battery packs can be purchased to stow in a pack to extend trip range or to charge up a second pack while out for a ride. The pack recharges up to full capacity in just 1.5 hours and also comes equipped with a USB port which can be used to charge a phone or other USB device.
The UrbanX team put the e-bike goodness and it’s extra weight up front to prevent the bike from powering itself into a wheelie. Adding extra weight up front seems counterintuitive to me but perhaps I’ve just gone over the bars a few too many times. It would take some real time on the saddle with one of these to know how that would play out in the real world, but the UrbanX team seems convinced that it’s the right configuration.
Both UrbanX Electric Wheels feature integrated Bluetooth connectivity that pairs up with smartphones via Android and iOS apps that serve as the portal for users to connect to the wheel, turning the smartphone into an intelligent riding computer.
The primary function of the app is to allow the rider to switch between one of three pedal assist modes which have been intuitively labeled Low, Medium, and High. Beyond that base functionality, it can also display real-time battery state, distance and speed tracking, a riding map, and speed levels.
UrbanX is kicking off these two new products with a Kickstarter campaign that launches today (March 14, 2017) that drops the price of these two products to what feel like extremely reasonable levels. The UrbanX Eco can be had at Early Bird pricing for $299 with the UrbanX Booster sitting at $399.
The company has taken to Kickstarter with a few simple launch packages in the hopes of raising $50,000 that it will use to boost its manufacturing operations:
- UrbanX Eco (250W, 15MPH top speed) thumb throttle version
- UrbanX Eco (250W, 15MPH top speed) pedal assist version
- UrbanX Booster (350W, 20MPH top speed) thumb throttle version
- UrbanX Eco Thumb Throttle + Extra Battery
- UrbanX Eco Pedal Assist + Extra Battery
- UrbanX Booster Thumb Throttle + Extra Battery
Impressively, UrbanX stated that it will ship Early Bird orders in June & July 2017, which is very quick for a campaign that ends just a few weeks earlier.
Images courtesy UrbanX
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