Networked Intelligent Bicycles Are Transforming Urban Riding

Bradley Berman | ReadWrite | October 31, 2013

Take one of the world's simplest machines. Add GPS, WiFi and open source development to make it kick ass.

The world’s first open source piece of hardware was the bicycle, according to the Open Source Hardware Association. To be more precise, it was the draisine, introduced as a two-wheeled human-propelled walking machine in 1817.

Technologists of the day added things like pedals, chains and rubber tires, as the bicycle became one of the world’s most widely used and loved machines. Nearly two centuries and a couple billion bicycles later, entrepreneurs are applying computer controls, GPS and wireless connectivity to bikes to help save the world’s cities from automobile gridlock.

The most recent innovation comes from Slovenia-native Niko Klansek.  The Brooklyn transplant started making and selling ground-up electric bicycles in 2011, in an effort to help bicycle commuters arrive to work without working up a sweat.  After struggling for two years to sell 300 units in Europe and the U.S., Klansek decided to literally reinvent the wheel—creating what he calls the FlyKly Smart Wheel. “It’s really hard to convince somebody to buy an electric bike when they already have a bicycle,” Klansek said.  “It’s easier to just purchase this, and put it on your existing bike.”