Riding bikes is awesome. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, the city in the distance — it's a fun thing to do. But don't you sometimes think, "This would be a lot more fun if I had a robot's help." Some spoke-savvy Brooklynites think that too — and now they've built a solution.
Meet the FlyKly Smart Wheel. This new device — which comes in eight different colours — looks like any other rear wheel, except that it has a monster-sized hub stuffed full of electronics. Those guts include a small engine that can zoom you along at a top speed of 32km/h for up to 50 kilometres without pedalling using energy harvested from the turning of your wheels. They also include a small computer with GPS capabilities that tracks your ride and can offer suggestions for better routes with the help of a smartphone app (for either iOS or Android). That app is easily accessible with the accompanying Smart Light, a light that serves as a mount for your phone as well as a charger.
That's a lot to take in, I realise, but the FlyKly Smart Wheel is effortless to operate. You just replace the rear wheel on your bike with the 4kg Smart Wheel and start pedalling. Then, from your handlebar-mounted smartphone, you set a desired speed — and the Smart Wheel takes care of the rest. Continuing to pedal will charge the Smart Wheel, though you can also charge it by plugging the wheel into the wall. It will also probably surprise you at first, since you'll be going faster than normal thanks to some extra help from the motor. You sort of feel like a superbiker.
What separates a bike equipped with the FlyKly Smart Wheel and a regular electric bike are the little computer's big capabilities. Again, the accompanying smartphone app can track your ride, not only telling you where you went but also how fast you went and how long it took you to reach your destination. It'll also suggest new routes and track your progress in the long-term. You can also lock the back wheel using the app — and if someone picks it up and walks away, the app will alert you right away. FlyKly is also launching an Open API and SDK so that others can develop more features using FlyKly data. So far, Pebble has already launched an app that allows users to control FlyKly with their smartwatches.
All of these features don't come cheap. The whole kit — which includes both the Smart Wheel and the Smart Light — costs $US590. (You can also buy just the Smart Light for $US59.) This includes a year-long warranty. If the wheel ever breaks or malfunctions, you can just send it back, and FlyKly will replace the whole thing. In the meantime, you can always just stick your old wheel back on your bike and ride it like normal.
You can reserve your FlyKly Smart Wheel kit now by backing the just-launched Kickstarter. It will go on sale to the general public in early 2014.