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Patent Battle May Loom Over 'Copenhagen Wheel' Electric Bike 152

Posted by timothy
from the kumbaya-my-lord-kumbaya dept.
curtwoodward writes "Nearly four years after the concept was introduced, MIT spinout Superpedestrian has started selling its $700 'Copenhagen wheel' kits that promise to turn any old bike into an electric-powered, smartphone-connected dynamo, simply by swapping out the back wheel. But they're not alone: a competing startup called FlyKly has already raised $700,000 worth of pre-orders for a similar device. Superpedestrian, which holds exclusive license to the MIT patents covering the Copenhagen wheel, clearly thinks there's some foul play going on. 'Their founder actually dropped by our lab at MIT a year and a half ago, saying he wants to collaborate, and spent quite some time with the Copenhagen wheel team. We'll leave it at that,' Superpedestrian founder Assaf Biderman said."
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Patent Battle May Loom Over 'Copenhagen Wheel' Electric Bike

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  • It figures... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcguirez (524534) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @02:39PM (#45586583)

    Every Facebook has its Winklevoss brothers....

    just now in wheel form.

  • Re:Why Bother? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @02:58PM (#45586791)

    1. Plenty of people live in places with hills steep enough to make them need to get off and push. Battery assist can make the uncyclable hill cyclable

    2. Even more people live in places where the gradients or distances are enough to break out in a sweat when cycling. Which is fine if it's a simple work-out. But not good if you are using the bike for transport to somewhere where there isn't a shower at the other end. Battery assist can help you arrive smelling sweeter.

    3. Battery assist is good for people who are thinking of making a move to using a cycle rather than a car. They may feel they are not fit enough for it to be a pleasant prospect without a battery assist. Whilst cycle snobs might like to thumb their nose at them, the more people that switch to riding cycles the better.

  • Re:Why Bother? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:15PM (#45586989)

    Your response illuminates one benefit called out in the article. With a wheel like this, instead of violating the law on descents, you can regeneratively brake, and then use that energy to stay close to the speed limit on ascents as well.

    I bike for fitness, and I fully intend to get something like this one day. I may be looking for an all-electronic drive train, where my cadence and effort are coupled to speed and torque only as a long-term average -- I decide how hard I want to work and what pace I want to maintain, and the power system manages everything else, letting me know if my configuration will either draw my battery down too far or exceed its charging capacity. No more finicky derailleurs, no more chain cleaning, no more chewed-up cuffs or shoelaces. And if the regenerative braking is good, it doesn't really matter that the bike is heavier -- you reclaim energy when coming to a stop, and then tap that energy to accelerate back to your pace.

    But who am I kidding? I'm riding a 30-year-old touring bike. I've put 10K miles on it over the last four years, and I'm still on the original chain, never mind groups and such. I'm not going to be pushing the leading edge (except perhaps with obscenely bright headlights).

  • As Seen On TV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:26PM (#45587101) Homepage

    On the TV show Weeds, Andy became sales agent/importer of a bicycle propulsion device that seems to fit the description in this thread. Is it the same device?

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