Recently, we told you about a brand of electric bikes that could be customised with 3D-printed accessories. As cool as these bikes are, at £1700 there’s no denying they’re expensive and when you already own a perfectly good ordinary bike it can be hard to justify an electric upgrade when you don’t even know if it’s a feature that you’re particularly sold on.
Instead of buying an entirely new bike, GeoOrbital offers you the opportunity to upgrade your existing bike. GeoOrbital is a wheel itself and replaces the front wheel of your ordinary bike but rather than traditional spokes, it features more interesting motors and a Lithium-Ion battery.
The GeoOrbital wheel is compatible with nearly every bike and the creators say they’ve tested it on hundreds of models from different eras. The wheel comes in two sizes, 26 inch or 700c, which they say should fit around 95% of bikes and both of these wheel sizes come fitted with a special solid foam tire which won’t go flat if there’s a puncture.
When it comes to fitting the wheel, GeoOrbital’s creators promise that it takes only 60 seconds and requires no tools; everything you need is already in the wheel itself apart from a small throttle which you clip onto your handlebar.
In terms of power, GeoOrbital will help you reach speeds of 20 miles per hour in six seconds for a distance of 20 to 50 mile. How long you get out of the battery and how fast you go depends how much you’re willing to pedal; with little to no pedalling you can expect to get around 20 miles out of a single battery but if you do help the bike out by pedalling a little more you can expect a longer range and faster speeds. The battery takes around 3 to 4 hours to fully charge but it is removable so for longer journeys you can always carry a spare. If you don’t anticipate using up all of the battery’s power it can also double up as a phone charger as it has a built-in USB outlet.
One of the main drawbacks of GeoOrbital is that it will add a bit of weight to your bike. Depending on which wheel size you get and the model you already have, it can add anywhere between 11 and 17 pounds which is quite a lot of extra weight to be lugging around – you might be going easier on your legs but your arms will be getting most of the workout. Despite this, GeoOrbital has easily smashed through its Kickstarter goal of $75,000 and at time of writing it’s raised $333,108 with 41 days of the campaign left to go.
If you’d like to get a GeoOrbital of your own, pledging $699 (£482) will get you the full kit by November 2016. This is no small sum, but considering the cost of an entirely new electric bike it is a good middling option for those considering an upgrade but unwilling to commit to a full electric bike. Though there are risks behind every crowdfunding campaign, the team behind GeoOrbital does have some impressive credentials, having come from companies such as Ford and SpaceX, and they’ve been working solidly on the wheel since November 2014. We have to admit, the concept of more speed with less effort is appealing.