Despite what may be an idealistic techno-solution, I was attracted the FlyKly video when I first saw it advertised two years. The video shows a cool European 20+ cruising along on his electric assisted bike and then EASILY able to take it off (theft issues?) and or share the wheel with his girl friend. The unique thing about this design is that the battery and all controls are right in the hub of the powered back wheel. I thought my wife just might also be interested in an electric assist on her commute to her counseling office. So….
I got out my Visa card and soon I had contributed to the KickStart folks for nearly $500 – a big amount in those day even if the Canadian dollar was at near parity with the US dollar. Then the wait. Weeks, turned into months, turned into years. The good news was that the original company had merged/been bought out by a company with a better battery. So redesign and longer waits!! Finally an email note that they were shipping! Then a second note saying that US and European customers would get the first shipments – Don’t they like Canadians??? Promised dates for delivery slide by. Finally not 2 days after I wrote a nasty email asking if they were just a rip-off company – my FlyKly Smartwheel arrived.
First surprise, my last bike had been stolen and in the meantime I had upgraded to one with disc brakes- the FlyKy wheel doesn’t work with disc brakes. Second surprise, I had ordered the wrong size! Both Susan’s and my bike have 28” wheels and I had ordered a 26” wheel. So shopping on Kiiji, I found a pretty good used mountain bike for $90.
Finally a test drive! But alas, the new wheel was ‘skipping” on almost every revolution of the wheel. After expending all my knowledge about chain skipping, I knew it was time for a bike shop visit. But then horrors – I lost the wheel’s electric charger. It had to be either in the house or in the garage and I thought it had to show up someplace. Months pass and sadly it is still missing, so I very reluctantly paid $159 US plus $50 shipping to order what I thought should be $20 charger. A few more months go by… Finally it arrives and I’m off to the bike store. It turns out the chain was not tensioned properly when the cassette of gears was removed from the mountain bike. So $35 for a chain tensioner and $30 labour and I was set to go.
Well it’s a wonderful invention! The wheel parameters, by which one sets the amount of electrical assist, maximum speed for the assist and the amount of braking (and recharging when pedaling backwards on down hills) are controlled via an App on my smart phone and connect via Bluetooth. The wheel itself as no controls – it starts by itself after a few seconds pedaling. It gives a very nice push, and goes into neutral when you stop pedaling. Unfortunately, the chain doesn’t synch with the three gears on the front crank and so I am stuck with a one-speed bike. However it does really well on the hills and cruising on the flat at a good speed is easy to manage.
Of course I’ll have to see how it survives and the BlueTooth connection from the Iphone is not very good, but it works! So all told I’m in for about $900 Canadian and I see they are now retailing for $999 US. My first Kick Starter experience and despite the delays it may be a winner!