The Copenhagen Wheel: Reinventing Bicycle Culture

As everybody who has stepped foot in Copenhagen can confirm: Bikes are everywhere here. No matter how old you may be, or what professional position you may hold, biking is a viable form of transportation.

Having spent many years in the USA, I know the concept of biking is very different over there. Biking is mainly used for recreation, not transportation. Many Danes feel that it’s ludicrous that Americans don’t bike like we do, and many Americans have the inverse response—and I completely understand both perspectives.

Copenhagen is the perfect city to bike in. It has an incredibly flat terrain, and the majority of the city is not dispersed across great distances. Compare that to places in the USA, where traveling from Uptown to Downtown is an adventure on its own, and with hilly hubs like San Francisco—you can forget about biking being a simple form of transportation.

However, these barriers are about to disappear for Americans—thanks to the Electric Bike. There are numerous models available, but there’s one type that has truly caught my eye, and that is The Copenhagen Wheel.

The Copenhagen Wheel is a product of SuperPedestrian, and is the result of a collaborative effort between MIT and the city of Copenhagen. The simple design will allow the rider to travel across greater distances at high speeds, yet with minimal effort. Do you live in a city with crazy inclines? No problem. “The Copenhagen Wheel” connects to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to pick certain ride settings such as “Flat City”, which makes the wheel adjust its support efforts to the terrain as you bike.

Check out the official video below for more technical insights.


Personally, I am incredibly excited for this product to hit the mass market. Not only will it help Americans open up to bike culture, but it will also be influential to the growth of Copenhagen. The capital region in Denmark, which includes over 20 municipalities surrounding Copenhagen, is working on building bicycle highways for suburban commuters. The highways will give cyclists easy access to active places such as the inner city, schools, and areas of industry. They also use “Green waves,” which means that if bikes move at a steady 20kph, they will hit all green lights on their commute. Combine this with the ease of The Copenhagen Wheel, and more people will be willing to travel greater distances with their bikes. Also, with its built-in app, commuters will be able to get live updates from fellow commuters concerning traffic updates—much like listening to the radio in the morning car commute. The overall concept aligns perfectly with Copenhagen’s plan to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.

Of course, like any major change in culture, The Copenhagen Wheel will need time to take hold. I already have a few concerns such as bike theft and dependence on batteries. However, I think the simplicity of its design, and its benefits, are bound to take the world by storm.

What do you think? If you are an American, do you feel that this will help bike culture transform from recreational activity to viable transport? If you’re Danish, do you think the electric bike will become more common and accepted throughout the country?

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Image from: here

Philip Trampe
4 Nov 2014

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