We’ve really been getting a lot of exciting feedback from you lately and we’re working really hard to investigate every option of including most of your suggestion in the Smart Wheel’s final design. Actually, direct contact with our backers was one of the main reasons we decided to try our luck on Kickstarter in the first place. There’s so much you can learn this way and get some very valuable insight into issues you weren’t even aware of. So when we say this couldn’t be possible without your help we’re not talking only about pledging your money - we thank you for also being active participants in our story.
We’re really enjoying talking to you about these but we’re interested in hearing you out even after this campaign ends. There’s still quite some time until May so we’ll be glad if you’ll stay with us on this journey. As you’ll see, there are practically unlimited options of what we’re capable of working out together. Here’s a short list of what we’ve been working on the most in the last couple of weeks.
Addtional LED lights on the housing
After introducing a “glow in the dark” color option a couple of days back
we’ve been getting a lot of suggestions on adding a series of LED lights on the Smart Wheel’s hub. This is definitely a marvelous idea which we’ve really given a lot of thought. Because there’s still some work to be made it’s far too early to offer them as a feature or a stretch goal during the campaign but we will definitely add them as a design option if we happen to incorporate them before shipping the rewards in May - free of charge!
Wheel size options
With the 20” wheel size becoming an option
we soon realized there might be some confusion regarding the different naming systems out there. To clarify on this we suggest taking a look at these informational charts
that are very helpful by providing an ISO specification for each wheel size. So our 29” wheel size is actually ISO 622mm
which also covers 28” wheels and 700C wheels, the 26” wheel size is ISO 559mm
so it’s suitable for most mountain bikes and cruisers and the new 20” wheel size is ISO 451mm
. We hope this helps you out with choosing the right wheel size option for your bike. Remember, you’ll be asked to specify this in the survey we’ll send out after the Kickstarter campaign ends.
Regenerative motor breaking
The motor braking
functions by regeneration, a concept very similar to the one found in Tesla cars. This means every time you back pedal the motor turns off and the magnets - which usually propel the whole thing forward - reverse their function and start creating electric power. Simply put, they become an electric generator which also recharges the Smart Wheel's battery.
Battery cell design
A lot of debate has been going on in regards to the batteries used in the Smart Wheel. We’re testing various types of Lithium batteries from different manufacturers so we’re still working on the characteristics for the final product. We will definitely not be using a combination of AA cells (as seen in some of the prototype photos and 3D renders) but will rather incorporate a specific design of the cells to better fit the Smart Wheel’s housing.
Transmission of the torque force
Some of you suggested using a torque arm to fix the wheel’s axle in place but despite it having some benefits we felt it would only complicate the installation process and take away from the simplicity of the whole design of the Smart Wheel. After a lot of testing we decided to use a tabbed washer quite similar to ones found on many gear systems to keep the axle fixed in place.
Cooling of the motor and the hub
Every electric component loses some of the electric power running through it by transforming it into heat. But because our motor is thinner and lighter than other similar electric motors it's also a lot more effective with converting electric power into a kinetic one, creating way less heat in the process. Smart Wheel's housing is also designed in a way that it already dissipates most of the heat created during the motor's function by spinning around its own axle. One more thing that makes the cooling process very efficient is that the housing is comprised of two separate halves, one of which is fixed to the wheel's axle. The surface between the two contains a simple venting system that creates enough air flow to effectively reach both the motor and the batteries at the same time.
Using a Smart Wheel with or without a smartphone
We understand a lot of cyclist don’t want to use a smartphone while riding their bike. We of course also offer that as an option. A smartphone is actually needed only for the initial set up and even that can be bypassed by simply using the Smart Wheel at factory settings. In case you are using a smartphone but run out of power, somehow break it or only leave it at home all of the information from the FlyKly App will of course remain stored on the Smart Wheel. This means a constant Bluetooth connection is definitely not required. Smart Wheel can also be used with more phones than one (not at once, of course) which means you can lend it to a family member or a friend and he or she will be able to connect to it by using your unique password or PIN number.
Tracking a Smart Wheel via GPS
Smart Wheel comes equipped with a fully functional GPS module which helps you track you bike in case it gets stolen or otherwise misplaced. This means it also comes with a GSM chip and a SIM card with a full one year worldwide service included after which you’ll be able to automatically extend your subscription or replace the SIM card with one from a local provider of your choice.
Other power sources for the Smart Light
There are many ways one can provide power for a bicycle light. A very popular one is a hub dynamo that’s installed inside the front wheel’s hub. These are pretty efficient but are hard to install, which is the main reason we haven’t decided to use it. This would require most of you to get the hub dynamo installed in a bike shop or it would require us to send you a whole front wheel with the dynamo already installed, which is neither practical nor financially feasible. Another very popular device is a spoke-mounted electromagnetical system that generates power by moving a series of magnets on the spokes along another magnet fixed on the bike frame. The problem with this one is that is simply doesn’t generate enough electricity to successfully charge both the light and the phone charger. A so-called bottle dynamo, which is included in the package with the Smart Light, generates 6V of voltage which is enough to charge your phone.
Providing constant current to the Smart Light
There’s a small issue of losing the power when the bike is not moving, like at a traffic light. We’ll be solving this issue by incorporating a short term battery or a capacitor that will function as a “power buffer” of sorts and provide electricity to both the light and the USB charger for a short time even when the bike, and therefore the dynamo is not moving.
Installation of the Smart Light
Smart Light is designed to be quickly installed on the handle bar with a simple “click” mechanism that in turn also prevents easy dismantling. This way it’s very unsusceptible to theft since it takes quite a bit of work to get it apart.
Different levels of pedal assistance
Smart Wheel is a pedal assist which means it only starts working when you start pedaling and it turns off as soon as you stop the pedals. The pedaling actually serves as a trigger to the motion sensors under the Smart Wheel’s cogwheel which simply signals the motor when to turn on. But these sensor can also monitor the speed the chain is moving along the cogwheel and this information can then be used by the FlyKly App to calculate the level of assistance the Smart Wheel still needs to provide. So apart from the regular functionality where the Smart Wheel helps you accelerating to the desired speed you can also program it to give extra power according to the level of pedaling you provide, so for example, it can help you reach one 1 mph more for every 1 mph of speed you create by pedaling yourself.
Using the FlyKly App on its own
A feature we’re really excited about is also using the FlyKly App even without a Smart Wheel. It will be able to use your phone’s GPS tracking feature to also gather traffic data and statistics so you can get a feel of how it works and what kind of functionality it provides. You’ll be able to use it in December when we release it so we’ll hopefully already have a growing and blooming community of FlyKly bikers once we launch the Smart Wheel in May.
Compatibility with Windows Phone
We’re currently still investing a majority of our time and efforts into development of iOS and Android apps and proper testing and support for all possible devices. We will definitely start working on a Windows Phone app very soon and will hopefully make it available before the launch in May 2014.
That about covers it, but the suggestions still keep coming in! We’re happy going through each and every one of them so please keep them coming. There are still some things we’re looking into so we might post another update like these in the following days, until then we’re looking forward to talking to you in the comments section.