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HIAWATHA BRAY | TECH LAB

Want to charge uphill? Add a motorized bike wheel and go

Reporters Steve Annear and Hiawatha Bray test the Copenhagen Wheel at the Bunker Hill Monument.
Reporters Steve Annear and Hiawatha Bray test the Copenhagen Wheel at the Bunker Hill Monument.

They say it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel, but in Cambridge some engineers didn’t get the memo. A couple of startups, Superpedestrian and GeoOrbital, have come up with two radical—and radically different—variations on the classic bicycle wheel. Bolt one of these onto a standard bike, and a built-in electric motor carries you down the road at remarkable speed, with minimal effort.

GeoOrbital’s version resembles something a Martian might ride when his hovercraft’s in the shop, while the Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel looks like someone shoved a Frisbee between the spokes. But both have enough pulling power to turn an ordinary bicycle into a two-wheeled Tesla.

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Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray recently found out for himself, as he raced up Bunker Hill on the Copenhagen Wheel (above), then hopped aboard a GeoOrbital bike for a spin around the Globe parking lot (below).

geo orbital
GeoOrbital has come up with a radically different variation on the classic bicycle wheel. Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray recently tried it out, as he hopped aboard a GeoOrbital bike for a spin around the Globe parking lot.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.