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PHOTO CAPTION: geoOrbital e-wheel converts 95% of bikes into electric.

GeoOrbital Surges Past Kickstarter Goal

Massachusetts startup hopes to make the switch to electric-assisted cycling even easier by converting nearly any bike in 1-minute's time.

Published: 06-May-2016

It seems like a pretty slick idea. The Boston-based startup behind it has attracted nearly 500 backers and surged well past their $75,000 goal. At the moment, they have a tidy third-of-a-million dollars pledged and there's still a good five weeks to run in their Kickstarter campaign.

Unlike previous e-bike crowdfunders, including EV World's own abortive effort to raise funds for Quikbyke using our prototype K15 Bamboo Electric Bike with the all-in-one ZeHus hub motor, GeoOrbital has come up with a pretty radical approach: an orbital wheel that replaces the front wheel on something like 95% of all bikes made... as long as they use 700cm or 26 inch wheels.

The electric motor contacts the inside of the outer rim of the wheel. The controller and removable lithium-on battery are mounted near the hub. The company claims you can swap out your old wheel for the new one in 60-seconds.

To confirm to federal rules, the setup is limited to a top speed of 20 mph, powered by a 500W, 36V brushless DC motor and 6 Ah lithium-ion battery. Pedaling range is reported to be up to 50 miles. The developers have gone through five generations, reducing part counts, weight and cost over an 18 month development cycle.

Kickstarter backers can get one of the first production pieces, which includes the airless tire for $599. When the unit goes on sale later this Summer, it'll be $950.

The GeoOrbital wheel adds a lot of weight, however, to the front of the bike; from 17-20 lbs (7.7-9 kg) depending on the wheel diameter. Gif video clips show riders on various types of bikes using the wheel without any indication of instability. However, having ridden a TidalForce M750 with its NiMH battery mounted in the front wheel hub, you don't want to let go of the handlebars for very long: they start to shimmy pretty quickly.

From where the Kickstarter campaign is at this moment, it looks like GeoOrbital is going to repeat the success of previous eBike crowdfunders - Copenhagen Wheel, Sonders, Gi-Bike and that's a good outcome for everyone.

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