Thursday, 8 September 2016

This Wheel Turned My $50 Bicycle Into an Electric Bike

My bike isn’t exactly what you’d call “nice.” I bought my humble three-speed for $50 bucks off Craigslist. I believe the original owner bought the bike for about twice that amount at Walmart. Over the summer, however, my second-hand Craiglist bike was converted into a fancy electric one thanks to EVELO’s Omni Wheel , a motorized wheel that replaces a regular bike’s front wheel.

The Omni Wheel EVELO

As a recreational bicycler, all I want in a bike is simple yet functional riding. So when EVELO sent me this 20-pound, $1,000 wheel for a test spin, I was skeptical. The installation process, which the company says should take most people only 30 minutes, took me and a friend (a sometimes frustrating) two hours. Admittedly, the lengthy installation time could also be down to how bad I am with simple tools. That being said, the EVELO team was happy to answer any questions I had and there’s also a 5-minute video tutorial for reference.

Upon successfully installing the wheel, my friend had the perfect words about my newly electrified bike, “It f—ing works!”

It really does work. The lithium-battery powered Omni WheeI basically turned my bike into a scooter. After effortlessly zipping around with it for the past month, I realized something—I kind of love, and maybe need, an electric bike.

My second-hand Walmart bike I bought off Craigslist for $50 was pimped out this summer with EVELO’s electric wheel.

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, do not require as much pedal power but they aren’t just for the lazy. With my Craigslist-bike-turned-e-bike, I biked more than ever before. Research actually shows that e-bikes make people cycle longer and more frequently. Instead of hopping into my car like I usually would, I biked to the gym, met up with friends, and yes even biked for fun.

The wheel I tested came with a thumb throttle that pushed me at speeds around 15 miles per hour, which felt pretty fast to me. At that speed, I was biking faster than the 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for my apartment complex driveway.

For those of you who enjoy biking for the exercise, you can switch between the throttle or old fashioned pedaling whenever you want. While I was out riding one day, the battery ran out of juice and I easily pedaled the rest of the way back home.

I live in a beach town in South Carolina so biking was easy on the flat pavement, but EVELO says that their wheel is powerful enough to tackle hills and long distances with ease.

A full charge on the Omni Wheel puts a rider into the 40-mile range and lasts around 4 or 9 hours depending on the wheel model. The all-in-one wheel kit includes a wireless display panel you place onto your bike’s handlebars that shows how fast you’re going, how many miles have been clocked up and how much battery is left.

The wheel comes in two sizes, 26" and 700C, meaning it fits a wide range of bikes. Starting price for the cheapest wheel is $999, which is hundreds less than low-end electric bikes.

Besides the Omni Wheel, there are similar products on the market such as the GeoOrbital wheel and the Superpedestrian .

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