It turns out that there is a way to reinvent the wheel and GeoOrbital has found it.

A tech company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts has created an electric wheel that can replace almost any regular bicycle wheel in seconds. The solid foam Tron-inspired wheel, which has a top speed of about 20 mph, comes with a removable and rechargeable 36V battery, lasting for about 20 miles from a single charge, or around 50 miles with a bit of additional pedal power. Michael Burtov, founder and CEO of GeoOrbital, explains how you can add a bit of spark to your bicycle.

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What is the story behind this project? 

A few years after I saw the movie “Tron" I couldn’t get an idea out of my head. I thought that the motorcycles in that movie looked cool and all, but they had so much empty space inside those wheels. I thought: "Why not put a motor, a battery and electronics in that space?" I left my job and started building the wheel in my kitchen, despite having no mechanical skills and no background at all in making things.

After bumbling my way to a miniature prototype wheel I met Dakota Decker, the company’s CTO, at a networking event. Dakota had an engineering-leadership job at SpaceX — but immediately left it to work on GeoOrbital. In a short time, Dakota took the barely–functional concept and made it into the practical, ridable, makeable GeoOrbital wheel. The wheel is now finally ready. 

How can this wheel turn a bike into a powerful electric bike?

In under 60 seconds the GeoOrbital wheel replaces your bike’s front wheel and turns it into a powerful eBike, with no tools, and no greasy chain.  It’s universally compatible across bikes that have 66 cm and 700C wheels — which is about 95 percent of all adult bikes in the world.

Why does the GeoOrbital wheel go on the front?

There are three major reasons why the wheel fits on the front: the installation takes under 60 seconds and no tools and if you choose to put your spoked wheel back on — for fun or exercise — it takes seconds to make the switch. Second, it’s universally compatible and works with a much greater range of bikes compared to a rear wheel replacement, supporting any amount of bike speeds, transmission components, “in-hub” brakes, fork sizes and bike chain technologies.

And lastly, because the GeoOrbital wheel doesn’t interfere with your bike’s chain or rear wheel, you can get all-wheel drive by using the throttle while pedaling.

What advantages does the GeoOrbital wheel offer over other common bikes?

It makes your bike a super bike that allows you to whiz past car traffic with a 0-20 time of under six seconds (without pedaling), and our 10AH battery is more than enough to cover an average day of bike riding with pedaling being optional. 

Who is this wheel aimed at?

It’s really for anyone that would consider getting around on a bicycle. The best reception has come from people that live in cities. Because the wheel goes on almost any bicycle and takes up the same amount of space as a regal bike wheel, it lets you convert your own bike to electric without taking up space in your home. It’s also light enough to carry up stairs — a big advantage over full eBikes.

Could this technology be used in other vehicles?

Absolutely. We have had a lot of people interested in putting these on wheelchairs, custom bike-like vehicles, and even folding cars (since the powertrain is contained inside the wheel itself, it allows you to free up all that space that is currently occupied in a car — opening a whole new world of design opportunities.

— By Daniel Casillas