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Hybrid Bikes Make Easy Riding With the Kinetic Copenhagen Wheel

Usually, you have to hop on a plane for Japan -- or at the very least, find a savvy importer -- to get your hands on the best new gadgets around, but to land a Copenhagen Wheel, you won't have to go quite as far.

Unveiled yesterday by a team of MIT students at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, the aptly named Copenhagen Wheel is aimed at city cyclists who want to cover longer distances and improve the overall cycling experience. The smart-looking wheel can be swapped into an existing bike frame, effectively transforming it into a hybrid: kinetic energy incurred from cycling and braking is stored in batteries to give riders a little boost when needed, and onboard sensors will send real-time feedback to users' smartphones about distance traveled, local traffic congestion, and even, say, pollution levels. (Video of how it all works after the jump.)

Safety was also a high priority for the MIT kids, so they included a 'smart lock.' "If somebody tries to steal it, it goes into a mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power, and sends you a text message," said MIT associate professor Carlos Ratti in a release. "So in the worst case scenario, the thief will have charged your batteries before you get back your bike."

A good thing too, because the Copenhagen Wheel certainly won't come cheap when it goes into production next year. While there's no firm price, the team says it'll be comparable to those of full electric bikes. [From: MIT, via: Engadget and Inhabitat]

Tags: bicycle, bicycle commuting, BicycleCommuting, biking, copenhagen, denmark, green, green living, GreenLiving, mit, top, urban living, UrbanLiving