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GeoOrbital Wheel - First Impressions

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GeoOrbital Wheel - First Impressions

Old 02-16-18, 12:46 PM
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HenryL
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GeoOrbital Wheel - First Impressions

For the record, 63 YO male, recovering from shoulder surgery, taking a bit longer than expected. Already own 2 road bikes and a track bike. The wheel provided me an option to make my commute to work easier although it is already the easiest 11 miles one could imagine. Picked this up from someone who purchased it as part of the Kickstarter program so I did not pay their full retail price. The wheel was in the original packing unused. The company advertises 60 second set up, it took me 180 seconds or so, no big deal. The weight of the wheel,( 20 pounds or so) does change handling of a road bike, beware of cracks and road hazards, these are transmitted harshly. If you do not activate the throttle the wheel provides some free motion, it is not free wheeling. If you have been an active cyclist this is sort of like pedaling up a 1% grade. Activating the throttle provided smooth and easy acceleration. i was not set up to measure speed, they advertise top speed of 20 MPH. I don't think I got there. I pedaled with the throttle activated, the effect was like having a tailwind, I was able to maintain speed with little effort, for sure I got over 20 then. Range is yet to be determined, this was a shake down ride, limited to around the neighborhood. The company says up to 20 miles, I intend to test that out in every expanding loops close to home. The regenerative braking was just that, let go of the throttle and it was like applying the brakes. There was significant drag but again nothing an average cyclist could not overcome in a pinch. Arriving home my road bike became a road bike in 3 minutes. For what I paid this was a great value. Since NJ will have snow this weekend a longer test ride will have to wait but I do intend to share experiences, this is very new to me. The company gets a big plus for innovation and ease of use, retail price point is off the mark but this was not a factor for me, sometimes you get lucky. So far I am happy to have something that permits my bike to serve more than one purpose.
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Old 02-16-18, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for the report; awaiting updates. If you're using regen, I would consider a torque arm if you don't have one already.
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Old 02-26-18, 11:27 AM
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Second ride, shortened due to weather. Set up remains about 2 minutes or so, not quite the 60 seconds they advertise but certainly simple enough. Steps are pretty much open brake, open quick release, remove wheel, insert Geo wheel, close quick release, (which is on the wrong side of the bike BTW), wrap rubber straps around fork, attach throttle and away you go. Brake had to remain open to account for the wheel width.

Test bike continues to be a custom steel frame with a steel fork, bike weighs 20 pounds. The weight of the wheel essentially doubles the bike weight. Turning on the motor but not activating the throttle allows the wheel to roll freely, not the same as a spoked un motored wheel but certainly easy enough. For that test I ran a 39-17 gear. Activating the throttle removes the slight pedal assist which means as soon as you release the throttle the regenerative function kicks in, almost like resisting the upstroke on a fixed gear bike. Stopping takes a bit longer than usual but that is to be expected given the added weight. Between the regen slowing the bike and a front brake, one can stop easily enough. With the throttle activated and pedaling as the same time 25 mph was easily reached, the pedal effort would be considered "soft pedaling". From a standing stop no pedaling the wheel accelerated smoothly to almost 20 mph on level ground. This isn't neck snapping acceleration but that could be a function of both the bike weight and my own. Climbing a moderate grade (~5%) without pedaling was slow, a bit too slow for my taste. Adding pedal effort fixed this problem and still felt like soft pedaling. A friend suggested we try a one mile climb we call 13 bumps, the first 1/2 mile is in the 12-15% range before it levels out to something more reasonable, around 5% - 7% or so. That will be interesting but was not to be this day.

It was 45 degrees and the rain kicked in so the bike only saw around 5 miles of ride time. I don't like cold and wet.
Battery rattle some complained of was non existent, the fix was simple, add some of the foam that came with the shipping box around the battery and no more noise.

There are three lights on the battery that show current charge, the display still showed full but probably (certainly) that was not the case.

Although the company suggests using this wheel on any bike I am not going to tempt fate by placing a 22 pound wheel on my carbon frame. The steel road bike or steel single speed/fixy will be the only two test beds.

I still find the weight distribution to be a bit unsettling. Certainly having the weight more centered on the bike would improve handling but that would defeat the purpose of the design. The hard foam tire presents a ride that is no more harsh than a road tire inflated to 100-110 PSI.

The next test will be a no pedaling range test on a closed loop in a local park. I intend to challenge the battery to see if the claims of 18-20 miles is a real claim.
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Old 02-26-18, 11:40 AM
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Thanks, great report. When climbing with a hub motor, AFAIK, you shouldn't let the speed go below 50% of max for too long since half of the battery input is being absorbed as heat at that time.
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Old 02-27-18, 07:29 PM
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Range test performed today with the same bike, a total of 12 miles on a closed loop, essentially my one way to work. Battery still showed charge available at the end of the test which consisted of no pedaling whatsoever. Probably would not have made the advertised 20 mile range but 15 seemed likely. GPS stats sowed 15 mph avg speed for the duration of the ride. Recharge took 4 hours. Charger got quite hot and did not indicate the charge was complete but the batter indicated otherwise.
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Old 04-02-18, 08:53 AM
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Finally had an opportunity to use the wheel as I intended. Wheel was placed on my steel road bike for the 12 mile one way commute to work. Having been an active cyclist for over 15 years the desire to pedal is one that isn't easily overcome so the wheel was more of an assist than a full power motor. More than 50% charge remained on the battery for a mostly flat ride. Recharge time was a bit under 4 hours. Ride home was a bit longer at 14 miles with me not providing much added energy. 50% plus charge remaining this time as well, a bit over 4 hours to recharge. My commute speed with the geoorbital was essentially the same but I did not need to shower off the sweat at the end of both trips, a win in my book when commuting. Right now it looks like the marketing stats and real life performance are in alignment.
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Old 04-02-18, 09:10 AM
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Sounds great for your commute. I imagine it's still pretty cool in NJ, and your range might pick up as it gets warmer.
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Old 05-03-18, 08:39 AM
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Ongoing observations, range really hasn't changed much with the weather warming up but that really doesn't matter. While it would be great to be able to complete the 24 mile round trip on a single charge it does not appear to be possible without some effort on the part of the rider. The lack of showering facilities at work means I want to expend little to no effort so this is mostly a ride along commute as instead of assisting the wheel. The only time I pedal is on the two uphill segments bu that is soft pedaling to maintain speed. The charger is sufficiently light that carrying it adds no significant weight to the ride. On a flat smooth road (a very rare occurrence in New Jersey) speed was 20-22 mph unassisted. Upon arrival at the destination the battery was very warm to the touch. Being new to this aspect of cycling I don't know if this is typical or not. Recharge time remains as advertised, 4 hours. So far everything the folks at Geoorbital have stated on their web page and in the youtube videos has been correct.
Pro: Ease of installation
Non flat front tire (essential given the added weight and wheel design.
No false advertising
Road bike becomes a road bike once again quickly and easily

Con: Uneven weight distribution creates a handling challenge
Ride is a bit harsh due to added front end weight
Battery rattle does require some user response, company suggestion really doesn't fix much. More experimentation on my part is needed.

Wish list: A bit longer range would be nice
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Old 05-25-19, 11:11 AM
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Managed to luck into one at half price on the extremely Big AuctionY site.

Agreed, it's easy to install --- one issue for me was the rim width, ~24mm as opposed to the 27mm of the (mountain bike) tire it replaced.

The top speed is interesting --- even at full throttle, if going down a slope, if one exceeds some speed threshold (unknown, had to remove my Giant Axact 6 computer since its sensor only reaches to the front wheel) resistance seems to develop, so it seems to me I'll be a bit slower going down some hills on my commute. Ordered a Cateye Strada Cadence wired sensor which is supposed to reach to the rear wheel.

For the battery rattling, I was able to resolve that by lifting up the battery handle, tucking the strap ends in front of the battery, then closing the handle. (this was mentioned on the Kickstarter forums I believe)

I wish there was more flexibility in the throttle placement / throw --- I'd give a lot for an option which was integrated into a twist grip as on a motorcycle --- I also wish the power indicator was a bit more elegant, with the red light only lighting when the other two have gone out.



Montague Swissbike X50 with Geoorbital Wheel.
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