In retrospect, lower Manhattan probably wasn't the safest place to try the Smart Wheel for the first time. Thankfully, the prototype wasn't operating at top speed when I hopped on, for that very reason. The sensation's a bit weird for those unaccustomed to riding with a pedal assist, kicking in only when you actually start pedaling and gradually reaching the speed you've entered in the app. In its final version, that speed will max out at 20 miles an hour, for up to a 30-mile range. The motor weighs about nine pounds, snapping onto the rear wheel of most bikes without much in the way of installation. Also of note is the ability to remotely lock the wheel using the app to prevent someone from riding off with the bike -- and if they do, you can track the thief on your phone.
All of this is still early stages. The motor you see above is still a prototype. The final version will be offered in a number of different sizes and colors, assuming the company is able to hit its $100,000 Kickstarter goal. A $550 pledge will get you the Smart Wheel, along with FlyKly's Smart Light (which you can get as a standalone for $49). The light holds and charges your phone (via USB), while leading the way in the dark with an LED bulb. The company will also be opening up the app's SDK for use with additional hardware like the Pebble smartwatch. Check out a quick video of the above after the break.