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Transportation

We Rode the Copenhagen Wheel

The smart electric conversion is a lot of fun, but is it really the best e-bike for the city?
The Copenhagen Wheel is slick, but is it wheel-y a good idea?
The Copenhagen Wheel is slick, but is it wheel-y a good idea?Andrew Small/CityLab

After a few prototypes and soft launches, the Copenhagen Wheel has officially arrived. This is an e-bike made-easy—an electric hybrid bicycle wheel that houses a motor, battery, and computer, all in a single red hub you swap out for the rear wheel of nearly any bike of your choosing. Made by the Massachusetts-based company Superpedestrian, the Wheel has long captured the imagination of would-be cycling commuters: It’s been hyped as the bicycling-aid that can turn lazy Americans into refined European velocipedestrians. Now, you can finally buy one, for $1,499 (or $1,999 pre-installed on a bike).

The wheel has been greeted with excited reviews from tech geeks, urbanists, and Bostonians for its inventive design, which was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SENSEable City Lab. (No relation to this CityLab.) Back when a prototype emerged in 2014, this site’s Nate Berg gave it a test ride, declaring, “If an Electric Bike Is Ever Going Hit It Big in the U.S., It’s This One.”