[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]houghts that have crossed both the minds of hobbyists and casual cyclists at some point: “curse this slope” and “if only my bicycle could pedal itself”. Well, a California-based company has found an answer to the prayers and curses: the Electron Wheel, a powered wheel that assists pedalling, to the point where it can “neutralise” slopes and help riders reach a top speed of 32kmph with minimum effort.

Replace the front wheel of your bike in a matter of minutes with the Electron Wheel, and voila – you’re the owner of an electric bike.

While e-bikes are nowhere near a new concept, this product offers users the option of empowering their existing upmarket bicycles to surmount new, difficult routes or simply enable leisure riding, and can be swapped out anytime between different bikes. You could even bring the wheels along on overseas vacations and slot them into rental bikes.

(RELATED: Cycling is the new golf – here’s why bikes can go up to $20,000 and more.)

Caveats: the wheel itself weighs 9kg, so it’s not as portable as it’s made to look. It also has a relatively low maximum recommended load of 120kg and apparently doesn’t play nice with sudden braking (it’ll continue to generate torque for a while). That said, score one for innovation and a great interim solution for those torn between purchasing an entire electric bicycle and hanging on to their trusted, custom-built ride of many years.

More information and purchase can be done at Electron Wheel’s website.