A bicycle retrofitted with a GeoOrbital, electric-powered front wheel demands a light thumb: Touch the throttle lever on the handlebar a little too hard, and you lurch ahead.
“You catch on in half an hour,” says Michael Burtov, the founder of GeoOrbital. I rode around for just 10 minutes, so I never quite caught on. But it sure beats pedaling.
It took Bartov less than a minute to fit his wheel to the bike and a few seconds more to slip the 3.4-kilogram (7.5 lb.) battery pack into its holder, which hangs where the spokes would be, if the wheel had spokes. Instead, its rim orbits around a circular frame, under the motive power of a 500-watt motor. That power is delivered through two rubber rollers, which grip the inward part of the rim.
The wheel is covered in hard rubber, which means you’ll be missing the cushioning effect of an inner tube. The wheel also adds some 9 kilograms to the bike, and though most of the mass is slung close to the ground, it does seem to make turning a bit harder. GeoOrbital has launched a KickStarter campaign to raise money for mass production.