A joint development between MIT and Ducati Energia, the Copenhagen Wheel is a bicycle wheel that enables cyclists to store energy during braking; the prototype design uses Kaydon Reali-Slim bearings, which are available from R.A. Rodriguez.
Due to their small dimensions, lightweight and excellent running accuracy, Kaydon Reali-Slim bearings have been specified for the Copenhagen Wheel, a high-tech bicycle wheel that enables a cyclist to store energy from braking and use it to provide an extra boost when overtaking or on steep gradients. Using sensors and a wireless connection to an iPhone on the handlebars, it can also monitor speed, direction and traffic conditions, as well as collect data on air pollution.
A joint project undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Ducati Energia of Italy, the Copenhagen Wheel project aims to promote cycling by extending the distance people can cover and reduce the effort required for cycling. Funded by the Italian Ministry of the Environment, the wheel derives its name from the city of Copenhagen where it was unveiled in 2009 at the UN Climate Conference.
The wheel uses a technology similar to the Kers (kinetic energy recovery system) concept that has been used in Formula One racing in recent years. Professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, comments: "The bike contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of an eye. When you pedal forward the motor supplements your torque. When you pedal backwards to brake, the motor starts regenerating electric energy while reducing your speed."
Wide range of slim bearings
As space is very tight in the drive system, Ducati Energia, the technical partner in the development of the wheel, chose Kaydon Reali-Slim thin-section radial bearings for the prototype. The system features six bearings in four bore sizes ranging from 2 inches to 12 inches.
The Copenhagen Wheel is currently in the final prototyping phase and will go into production in June 2011, with a comparable price to that of a standard electric bike.
Although a unique project, this application is very typical for Reali-Slim bearings, which are said to have become an industry standard for applications where compactness and lightweight need to be matched by high performance. The complete range of Kaydon bearings is available in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia from the company's longstanding distributor, R. A. Rodriguez. Follow the link for more information about Kaydon Reali-Slim bearings.