Electron Wheel vs Omni Wheel—The Full Inside Scoop.
Both these all-in-one electric bike conversion wheels have many great benefits and some quirks worth discussing. I might be the only one to have both at the same time to help you with this in-depth insight. I was able to spend time with the prototypes of each wheel last year, and now with the full production models, both presently on the market. This makes this comparison post even more timely. Trying not to play favorites, this post and each video was titled with the lead player by a flip of a coin. It seemed only fair.
To start, I think each share a great plus, being able to convert most any bike to electric with minimal cost and time. They allow your bike to have the assist, or be converted back to regular, for the kind of ride experience you may want at any given time. They allow your bike to be serviced at bike shops that refuse to work on electric-assist bikes (there still are way too many of those). They give you the option of having just one bike that can serve both purposes (saving both money, and space in your garage or bike storage area).
I was able to compare both wheels side-by-side in every aspect of installation, use, performance and range. I did my best to make things as equal as possible, for the results to be credible. Both production wheels had improvements over the prototypes, although there was at least one thing I didn’t consider better. And, each company has promised me they will continue to explore ways to increase their performance, reliability and convenience. Just to note here, there were no issues of reliability problems at any time during my testing.
Both the Omni Wheel and Electron Wheel come with a tire and tube installed. They are kind of skinny tires that might work for you, yet installing the original tire (or one similar, is an option). They are both wireless, yet the Omni wheel has wires that interconnect some of the supporting electronics. The Electron wheel is supported by your cell phone with an app you can download for free. Full instructions are supplied with each, with more info online and with phone help if needed.
When you open the box with your new E-wheel inside, one has many parts and the other very few. The Electron Wheel comes with the wheel, the pedal sensor box, a smart charger for each, and instructions. The Omni wheel has the wheel, a bunch of needed hardware, handlebar mounted display, brake levers with safety motor cutoff switches (optional to install), 2 smart chargers, instructions, a hand throttle and a bottom bracket sensor package that is also optional to install.
During the installations I found that older bikes will not accept either one. I was hoping to try them both on some of my vintage bikes, but the wheel spacing is too wide for them. It seems that about 1985 is when bikes increased that spacing, so most bikes newer than that should work for you. Each company will be glad (in fact they want to) investigate for you if their conversion wheel is compatible with the bike you plan on converting. Each come in 26” wheel and 700c wheel sizes. And, the Omni Wheel can be had with a larger (and 2 lbs. heavier) extended range battery.
The Omni Wheel is installed with spacers and nuts. It has a separate torque arm (needed for any E-bike conversion) that fit correctly on a couple of my bikes, but not on my beach cruiser forks (although it was still effective in doing its job) (this is covered better in the linked videos). I did have some issues getting the nut on the sensor side correctly torqued, but worked through that. Remember that both of these wheels replace your bike’s front wheel, so no dealing with the chain or gears is necessary (this is big in my opinion)..
The Electron Wheel uses a quick-release mounting method that was faster to use for the installation. I did find the range of the torque arm limited a bit, being close to not fitting right on my beach cruiser (angle of the fork), yet once again, I was able to get it fit correctly. Even though this wheel goes on quicker, you do need to go through a calibration sequence each time. Neither wheel has any wires connected to them, so no slowdowns there.
Once the Electron Wheel is on your bike, you use the Velcro mounting to strap the pedal sensor on your pedal arm and you are done. On one of my hybrid bikes the sensor wouldn’t fit on the inside of the pedal arm, so I had to remove the kickstand to get it to rotate without clearance problems. You do have the option to mount it on the outer side of the pedal arm (which I also tried). That works fine, yet you could bump it out of position easier with your feet (did that too).
Putting on the extras for the Omni Wheel was more time consuming. You can use it with the hand throttle or the pedelec sensor that mounts on the bottom bracket of the bike. You can install one or the other, or both, but the wheel will only respond to the one that is plugged into the display unit (that is easy to install on the handlebars). To install the hand throttle, one handgrip will need to come off and then reinstalled. The BB sensor isn’t too hard, but takes a bit of TLC to get it right (yet some bikes may be tougher to fit or will not work with this sensor).
Once installed, the Omni Wheel worked well from the hand throttle, giving nice full control at all times. Your hand can get fatigued holding it during use, so the pedelec function can be a better option. To use that, you just unplug one, and plug in the other, and make a quick change in the display programming (easy to do). In the pedelec mode you can choose between 3 levels of automatic assist (motor starts when you pedal—stops when you stop pedaling) (same as on the Electron Wheel).
Although the Electron Wheel goes on quicker, you have to take the time to calibrate it before use. This consists of starting the calibration mode on your cell phone, riding 200 yards, keeping the pedals moving the whole time, returning to your starting point, and confirming the calibration with the correct button on your phone. Once done, you can choose from 3 levels of automatic assist from your cell phone. The whole cell phone thing was a bad deal for me, as I don’t use them. I had to borrow a friend’s extra phone to do this entire testing procedure.
This brings to mind one more thing, turning the systems on both wheels on and off. The Omni Wheel was a breeze. You push the power button on the wheel (kind of dim light then comes on). Wait 3 seconds, then push the power button on the display. Within a few more seconds the two interconnect wirelessly and off you go. The display shows battery power left for both units, confirms the wireless connection, reads your speed and distance, and has a button to choose your pedelec assist level. If you are using the hand throttle, the assist level buttons are not active.
The Electron Wheel was not so friendly. The power button lights up brighter making it easier to see when it’s on. Next you turn on the pedal arm mounted box, it too has a pilot light. Then the fun begins. You power up your phone, swipe at it for action, choose the Electron Wheel app, push the connect icon, go though a couple more modes, and then you can choose your level of assist. The wheel will operate without the phone, yet stays in the last set level of assist with no ability to change it (and you need the phone for calibration). The phone screen kept turning off, so a bunch of swipe attempts is what it took each time I wanted to change levels.
The phone did show charge levels in the wheel and phone, yet not the pedal sensor (which seemed to have a very long battery life anyway). I guess it could also read speed and distance if you set it right (for either wheel), yet I didn’t bother to figure it out. Also, I was lucky to have a phone encompassing handlebar mount for the phone, yet it took up a lot of room on the bars. Consider too, many phone mounts have been known to eject the phone on bumps, with a possibility of ruining the phone. Needless to say at this point, I didn’t like the fact that the phone was necessary for the Electron Wheel.
The climbing and speed of both wheels was close to identical. One has a higher wattage rating, yet those are just numbers in many respects. My videos show what I found there, so don’t bypass seeing them (links below). If anything, the Electron Wheel showed just a bit better in these respects. During this phase of the testing I had my one friend wear a weighted backpack to help keep things equal.
The real surprise was in the range testing, with the Electron Wheel shining here. Once again check out the video. Even though both had different means of controlling them (one throttle only and the other pedelec), we were careful to spend the needed power to both wheels as evenly as possible. Plus, my wife and switched bikes every 2 loops (almost 1 mile) to equal things out. In this test we used them at full power the whole time, so actual range for your riding should be more, or less maybe, depending on your riding conditions and weight.
Worth mentioning is that both wheels are not super high-powered (like you might expect from a expensive 500 watt ready-to-ride E-bike). They are designed to be a way to help your ride, not overpower it. Because they are all-in-one and not too pricey, they do just what they are designed for, but not much more. I wouldn’t blame you if you want more, yet I do feel there is a world of people out there that will find these the perfect way to make their bike ride easier and more fun. They leveled the hills and beat down any headwinds, the main reasons you would want an E-bike.
Other things to consider are the way they ride with that extra weight in the front wheel (each weighs about 19 lbs. for the wheel and complete system). Neither really affected the steering too much, yet when lifting the bikes onto my bike rack you could feel the extra weight, and front to rear imbalance. Both were the same in this respect, no difference between them. Another thing that was the same was the affect in crosswinds. I didn’t feel unsafe, yet when the winds do blow, hold the grips tighter and pay closer attention to your steering. In real windy locales, this could be a problem.
Those full cover discs had another effect I hadn’t considered before. When the bikes were on my car’s bike rack, they fully obscured the rear lights of the car. Some trailer lights on the rack would be needed to be legal and safe when hauling them around. I did have the option of installing the original wheels on the bikes during transport, yet that seemed like too much of a hassle, but you might find it worth your time if transporting your bike this way.
The Electron Wheel has two large openings in the cover discs. This made airing up the tire easy, and left a large spot for my bike lock to go though (good idea to make sure you secure them this way). The Omni Wheel has just one small opening, enough for most locks to go though, but requiring a L shaped inflator adaptor (included with the wheel). That was a minor hassle, yet not an issue really.
So there you go, that is most everything I can tell you about the two and how they compare. I did leave out some text on the power and range testing, making you watch the videos to get the whole story there. Once again, I will flip a coin to see which one gets top billing in each section below as I share the previous articles I did on both wheels, videos I did on the prototypes, videos on the production models, and side-by side comparison videos of power and range (all below). Please have a look.
One final thing. I am not sure if you realize just how much time and coordinating it took for me to be able to present this comprehensive comparison. I felt it (and both wheels) was worth putting myself on the line for you to complete this test and report. Now that it is done, I can only look back, wipe my brow and feel good that I made it happen. I need to send big thanks to both the Electron Wheel and EVELO companies for supporting me in doing it all. I hope too, that they appreciate how I have presented all my facts and findings. Know too, that they are both committed to making each wheel better, and pleasing their customers with the best electric bike experience they can provide.
No matter which you might choose, they can open up a whole new world of bike riding for you, Turbo Bob.
“Bicycle means simplicity and simplicity means happiness!”—Mehmet Murat ildan.
You can find the Electron Wheel folks on the web and Facebook.
The Omni Wheel from EVELO has these sites.
Here are the posts I have already offered on these two wheels.
Here are the videos for this article.
These are videos on the production models.
These are on the prototypes I tested.
These two wheels made it in many other of my videos too—See if you can find them.