Let’s face it. E-bikes can be pretty expensive, and if you already have a bike or two in the garage, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to get an all new machine just because you’d prefer a bit of assist. Fortunately, there are a number of products devoted to turning your current bike into an e-bike, though some are certainly more complicated than others. Among the easiest conversions are motorized front wheels like the EvoWheel and Electron Wheel. Simply bolt the wheel on, install the control moduel (or use the app), and you’re ready to go.
Available in 20, 24, 26, 27.5, and 700c/29″ versions, the EvoWheel is designed to fit most bikes. Compatible with rim or disc brake bikes, you will need to have a quick release or bolt-on front hub in order to use the bolt-on front axle of the EvoWheel.
One of the best features of the EvoWheel is that there are no wires to deal with and no extra sensors. Using built in sensors in the hub, the wheel is calibrated with the companion app which takes into consideration your weight, bike size, and wheel size to offer the right amount of assist. There are also 5 smart riding modes to tailor the power output to your needs. What’s not clear is how the power is delivered, as in will it only assist you when you’re pedaling, or will it always provide assist, so keep that in mind before ordering. It does mention that the wheel “learns” your riding style over time and then makes adjustments to provide the smoothest ride possible. Without a crank sensor like most e-bikes have, the pedal assist feature might not be as smooth however.
Obviously, one of the biggest benefits is the ease of installation. Just bolt on the front wheel and go. If you’d rather not use your smart phone while riding, you can take advantage of the wireless bluetooth head unit that will provide all the necessary info.
The 250 watt motor comes in three different battery packages which increase the weight from 14 to 16lbs. Range is said to be from 18 to 36 miles, with a top speed of 18-20mph. Currently, the wheel system is available through Indiegogo starting at $499, with expected delivery in June.
The Electron wheel is a very similar concept, though it is only available in 26″ or 700c versions.
Unlike the EvoWheel, the Electron wheel does use a crank sensor, though it is a relatively bulky box that gets strapped to the crank. This should improve the pedal assist function in that it only provides boost when it senses that you are turning the cranks. The Electron Wheel is also only compatible with rim brakes, not disc brakes.
The Electron wheel is a good bit more powerful with a 400w motor, but still limited to 20mph for the top speed. To control the wheel, there is a dedicated app, and there are functions like an Active Hill Assist.
Electron touts a 30 second installation, but that only covers installing the front wheel. Adding the crank sensor and programming the wheel will take a bit longer.
With a range of up to 50 miles and a weight of 18.5lbs, the Electron Wheel is available for a pre-sale price of $899.