By Simon Smythe
An Ireland-based entrepreneur is claiming to have invented a power-assisted bicycle wheel that doesn’t use batteries, doesn’t need charging, is not speed restricted and has an infinite range.
Simon Chan says his SuperWheel, which is powered simply by weight and movement via a patented technology called ‘Weight to energy conversion technology’ (WTECT), supplies an efficiency improvement of over 30 per cent compared to a standard wheel.
According to SuperWheel: "The WTECT system is a type of suspension system, using the reactive force to generate additional torque, to facilitate the wheel rotation.”
It comprises two mechanisms: the external spring mechanism and the internal drive: “The action/reaction force caused by weight compresses the springs in the upper section of the wheel and decompresses in the lower section. Using the centre as the pivot, this converts energy and reduces the frictional force in the opposite direction and facilitates the rotation. Using 10kg active weight, the mechanism is shown to generate a moment ranging from 7.3Nm to 7.8Nm.”
Chan, who already has a distribution contract with a French company, where the first production units have reportedly gone on sale, is calling the SuperWheel an “E-bike alternative at lower cost.”
Chan says the SuperWheel’s journey began in 2014 and by 2016 had completed computerised valuations and virtual prototyping at Dublin City University.
According to the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), Chan received Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher funding to support his work on prototype development, plus additional support from Dundalk Institute of Technology – where Chan’s company is now based.
THEA says the SuperWheel is being marketed to “city commuters, cycling enthusiasts, to any environmentalists out there still using less sustainable transports and to people who may have a mobility disadvantage that restricts them from cycling. Using the Super Wheel is a green and efficient mode of transport.”
The SuperWheel will be compatible with most standard bikes, with different wheel sizes planned, from 20in to 700C. It is available to pre-order via the SuperWheel website at €395, but is currently sold out.
We have requested a SuperWheel to test and will report back.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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