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Matthew

(1)

None of those look as comfortable as a car.

Kris De Decker

(2)

Try one.

Kelly

(3)

I think this could be a great alternative some day in the future when legislation ideals align more closely with the goals of the velomobile. For so much to change in order to make these vehicles commonplace, it will take a lifetime of informing people and convincing. Your article is very informative and clear, however. Bravo

thibaut

(4)

I have actually a Hybride velomobile with solar panel on it. With such efficient vehicule, it make sens to recharge the battery with solar panel. with it you get back the freedom of a bike with a very confortable Cabriolet :)have a look to my website : http://www.cycleentransition.fr/
https://www.facebook.com/CycleEnTransition

Paco

(5)

There is still one kind of automobile trip where I have yet to see human powered/electric hybrids making a satisfactory replacement to the car.

Family transport in trips of over 60 km

This can be for example holiday trips, meaning a range from 100 to around 700 km in a day or less for 4 people (adults and children) with luggage for a week.

Some form of multi modal transport is the best answer I can think of (train+folding electric bycicles and trailers) but the confort level would be very different from that of the car, and only possible in areas with reasonably dense rail networks.

Kris De Decker

(6)

@ Kelly: what it will take, especially, is people driving velomobiles *now*, so that others know that they exist. I quote Cox and Van De Walle (see part 2 of the article): "Even the presence of a small but persistent number of velomobiles sufficient for everyone to have some personal experience of the phenomenon might serve to call into question the currently dominant form of automobility". It is amazing how much attention you get in a velomobile.

@ Thibaut: It would seem to me that the solar panel on your velomobile is quite small.

@ Paco: It could be done using electric velomobiles and trailers (see, for instance, this picture: http://www.alexkrikke.nl/web/2011/10.oktober/1%20oktober/mooi%20setje.htm ). On the other hand, this is an example where a real automobile is useful and serves its purpose. Much more often, there is only one person in a car, and no luggage.

By the way, trains can be more comfortable than cars and you can take as much luggage as you want. They are, however, quite expensive.

Johan Erlandsson

(7)

Two major drawbacks of the current velomobiles are left out in the article: price and cargo capacity. Price can be lowered with mass-production, but if we really want a car killer, more cargo space is needed. Child transport and some decent grocery shopping is a minimum. How many people uses a sports car with very limited cargo capacity in daily life? Using a trailer is not a good enough answer to this challenge.

Kris De Decker

(8)

Johan: the eWAW has about 120 litres of luggage space, which seems enough for some decent grocery shopping. Some velomobiles have more luggage space, and for heavier loads, we have cargo bikes -- with or without electric assist (see last month's article).

Many people shop in their neighbourhoods, so a fast velomobile won't be of much use anyway. A velomobile is meant for commuting, for speed, for long distances. One type of cycle will not replace all automobile trips. A family could have a cargo cycle, a velomobile, a couple of regular bikes, and some trailers.

Together, these might be as expensive to buy as one car, but you don't have to buy gasoline. There are indeed ways to lower the price of velomobiles (mass manufacturing, but also DIY kits), but why should cycles be cheaper than cars if they offer the same advantages? Cycle sharing systems are another solution, especially for cargo bikes.

Child transport is not a problem, at least not technically. The manufacturer of the eWAW has a design in mind in which a kid is seated behind the driver is a slightly longer velomobile. The problem is the law. If the vehicle is homologated as a moped or motorcycle, it is not allowed to take children.

WO-Kurriddy

(9)

A very interesting article - thank you. I can see cars becoming smaller and lighter because they will have to do so in order to either improve their consumption of liquid fuels dramatically (to 100+ miles per imperial gallon) or function usefully on electricity alone.

In the much more resource-constrained world of the future, the cost of buying and running cars will be beyond many people, who will go back to using shared transport, e.g. trains and 'sheruts' http://tinyurl.com/8z8u8gt

Velomobiles would be an affordable ownership option for some of those priced out of cars. The serious challenge for transport planners in the coming decades will be safely integrating ultra lightweight cars and velomobiles with trucks and buses as well as millions of 'legacy automobiles' like my VW Passat for as long as the latter remain in operation

Perhaps a mix of air-quality/emissions restrictions in cities and better homologation rules for velomobiles?

Mikael Seierup

(10)

My homemade velo with 250w/25 km/h legal eassist serves my shopping needs fine. Two Ortlieb pannier bags for everyday grocery shopping on its luggage rack. For larger stuff I use my Radical Cyclone trailer. Loads 40 kgs which is enough for getting most building materials home, running old and broken stuff or hedgetrimmings down to the recycling centre etc. Sure, a car with a trailer could do it faster and in fewer trips, but it costs an arm and a leg to buy and operate. So I either borrow a friends or rent one on the rare occasions I need a car, but otherwise I've never owned one (24 years since I got my drivers license) and wouldn't be too heartbroken if I never do.

Justin

(11)

I can understand why legislation is so confusing. Think about it, even without electric assist, let's say teenagers are goofing around in a velomobile at 30km/h. That's fast enough to endanger and do damage to themselves, pedestrians, and other drivers (motorist/cyclist).

I prefer a speed cap that requires licensing. I do like the idea of the velomobile though. However, I can't imagine it being practical anywhere in Texas where I live.

Tony

(12)

Even as an older fart with bad knees it would be a welcome sight to see the public move towards this type of transportation. But here in Colorado I can also see public outrage as these 'slower' vehicles start sharing the road. And we're a 'bike friendly' state!

The roads are not designed to carry the mixed speeds that bikes and velomobiles run at, just autos moving at the posted speed limit. On my way to work this morning (cold btw) my avg speed while not at a stop light(!) was probably close to 45mph/72kph. There is not room for a slower vehicle of any sort to safely handle the morning or afternoon traffic. Safely being the keyword.

Could I take back roads instead of the major streets? Perhaps. Would my wife headed out for a run to the grocery store want to do that? No. The well intentioned worker that has a longer commute want a even longer commute? Probably not.

Until the existing roadways are redesigned to handle bicycles or velomobiles you will be putting your life into understanding auto drivers. I for one do not trust them.

Is it a failure of our elected officials that our roadways are not capable of handling a variety of traffic flows? Perhaps not. An engineer proposing a wider roadway to handle bike traffic 30-40yrs ago would have been shouted down by those paying the bills. It's a recent phenomenon for bike to be used as daily transport. At least here in the US.

Great article.

Julian Bond

(13)

SeeAlso
http://www.velomobiel.nl/allert/
vs http://aerobikeenclosedmotorcycle.blogspot.co.uk/
vs http://www.bikeweb.com/image/tid/57

Somewhere in here is a recumbent, streamlined, solo, electric powered or assist, personal transport module. It may have 2 or 3 wheels. Let's hope the governments let us experiment and try and invent it.

tp1024

(14)

Well, bring the price down below 1000 Euro, do away with the pedals and call it a light car, quad or trike. A frame, wheels, electric motor, brakes and steering can't be that expensive. Seriously, the prices of those vehicles aren't just high - they are ludicrous.

Do not include batteries, so every customer can choose which ones to buy. I'm quite sure some people would want to trade the lightweight and expensive lithium battery for a much cheaper lead battery (and a better motor) - despite long charging times and poor performance in cold weather. Range would still be sufficient for most purposes.

Mark Mitchell

(15)

Any move to create widespread transportation alternatives similar to the velomobile will inevitably attract the gimlet eyes of federal regulators who are obsessively engaged in making auto manufacturers jump through ever more complex and hugely expensive hoops to increase both safety and efficiency. Regulators would thrill to the velomobile's efficiency but fibrillate in horror over their near complete lack of crash resistance. The instant regulators start requiring lightweight fragile velomobiles, of whatever configuration, to meet current automotive crash standards then there goes the ballgame.

Of course motorcycles are legal and don't have to meet crash standards but who can say logic rules the roost at the U.S D.O.T.? Best to hunker down and avoid attracting the Eye of Sauron.

Matt

(16)

Those velomobiles have als a number of disadvantages. They use up much more parking space than bicycles. The do not fit into bike racks or a bike storage in the basement. They take up more space than an (electric) motorbike.
The also to large for bike paths but too slow for regular streets. Driving in cities i prefer a traditional bike over an recumbent. the overview is much better and it is more agile especially at very low speeds. Also on steep hills (i live in Switzerland) i can stand up in a normal bike an use my body weight as last resort to climb up. with a recumbent using same transmission i cannot deliver enough power and have to push the bike up hill.
Recumbents are great for long flat distances bur not for cities and/or hilly terrain.
And for the price f a velomobile i can buy a electric motorbike which can easily keep up with traffic.

Matt

(17)

Correction:
In Switzerland electric bike can have 500W continous power and even a higher peak power while assist pedaling until 25km/h. Those bikes are still considered as a bicycle (no license plate). The higher wattage over EU standard is because of our topography with many hills. Bikes with assist up to 45 km/h are considered mopeds and need a license plate.

Berkana

(18)

I think this may be mistaken (from the second paragraph above "Test Driving a Ferrari"):

"The power required for acceleration is inversely proportional to the mass of a vehicle, so a velomobile uses roughly twice as much energy during acceleration than a bicycle, depending on the weight of the driver and vehicle."

If the power required for acceleration were *inversely* proportional to the mass of a vehicle, the heavier the vehicle, the lower the power requirement, right? But the opposite is true.

thibaut

(19)

I have only 30watts of solar panel on the body of my velomobile. They give me 20km of extra range during a sunny day (My battery gives me a average of 120km range at 35km:h, 6wh:km).
I have also a trailer with an atachable solar panel (80W) but I only take it for long trip. this gives me 60km extra range during a sunny day.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=320687988009976&set=a.320687858009989.75128.281171008628341&type=1&theater
Thibaut

bram

(20)

read the article and asked for a test drive too. This is exactly what I need. I have an office job, single distance work-home = 43 km (along canals and small towns), so an eWAW should be like heaven. And it might let me loose some weight.

Maciej

(21)

It is sad that overall enthusiastically written article was not written by someone who rides with a velomobile on daily basis: for shopping or by someone brings his/ her children to school. Not only commuting to work is important... Velomobile or electric velomobile is like a sports car. Very high speed, great bodywork but no so practical in daily use, especially if you have a family. If the price of the velomobile were "normal" - then OK, people would buy them. I own few bicycles (5 at the moment) but none of them cost me more than 500 EUR ($600). I could pay for limited velomobile - let's say 2500 EUR ($3500) but the problem is that velomobile should serve WELL for different purposes. Not extreme but at least few of them. If I go for a shopping I would deinitely take my delta trike (good cargo space). If I just want to ride fast then I take my trekking bicycle on 28" wheels. If I would like to commute fast and make some shopping with a velomobile then I must pay ... 5500 EUR ($7000). ... Cargo space for square objects or things which can not be repacked is definitely too small in a velomobile. Turning radius is huge. Rolling resistance is high. There are losses in the transmission. That is annoying. I don't even mention that with a city bike I can pick up a person ... but with velomobile no... or sorry, maybe yes: DuoQuest or RJK Velomobile. But they are very wide, they won't fit into bicycle paths.

Kris De Decker

(22)

@ Tony (#12): The electric velomobile could replace the car, but the car makes driving an electric velomobile dangerous. That's the situation we are in, and we can only solve it by limiting the use of the car.

@ Berkana (#18): Thanks. It should be "Acceleration is inversely proportional to the mass of a vehicle."

@ Matt (#17): Confusingly, my source on Swiss law says otherwise: http://www.bfu.ch/pdflib/1414_67.pdf

@ Matt (#16): could you also compare velomobiles to automobiles instead of bicycles? Because in that case all what you write sounds very different.

Of course a normal bicycle is best for short trips and city traffic. Velomobiles are for longer distances.

The electric motor will help you climbing, so I don't see the problem with hills.

An electric motorcycle will not have the range of an electric velomobile, because it has weaker aerodynamics (unless you use a fairing, see comment #13).

@ Julian, WO, Thibaut: thanks for the links & info

Dirk

(23)

@Matt: makes me want to move to Swiss :)

To all complaining about price, start buying and prices drop. A hand made watch costs more... and you can't drive it. Or do like I did and buy a used one; lots of bang for the money. And brings a smile on your face while driving to work. Much unlike when being jammed in trafic.

Kris De Decker

(24)

@ Macie:

The velomobile I test drove is a sports vehicle. There are other velomobiles which are not. See our previous article: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/09/the-velomobile-high-tech-bike-or-low-tech-car.html

The normal bicycle, the cargo cycle and the velomobile are complementary, as three vehicles that can replace one car. That does not mean that everybody should drive a velomobile. As much as I loved driving a velomobile, I won't buy one because I don't need it. I only bike short distances, and I have a great public transport system at my disposal for longer distances.

Of course there are many hybrids possible, and I think we will we see innovative designs in the future. A hybrid between a cargo cycle and a velomobile, for example, great for shopping and for transporting children. But one cycle will never replace one car. Velomobiles will get cheaper, but I don't see any reason why a collection of good cycles should be cheaper than a car. Everybody in the western world seems to be able to afford at least one car. So why not an alternative that gives the same benefits (and is much cheaper to use).

tp1024

(25)

@Dirk:

You're barking up the wrong tree.

You can't buy what you can't afford - and those complaining about the price (myself included) usually belong to that group of people who simply can't afford to pay that price.

The price can be lowered by better choice of materials and components optimized for price, rather than performance and energy savings. If 40kg more weight can save a few thousand Euros, you should go for it.

I thought this is the lowtech magazine. Why the insistence on lithium batteries, photovoltaics, aluminum and carbon-fibre? What about good old wood, steel and lead batteries? Even doubling the weight doesn't double energy use. Energy consumption is mostly determined by aerodynamics and speed.

The improvements in electric motors and lead batteries of the last 100 years have made all this practical (tripling or quadrupling their combined performance), even when using the materials of the days of yore. And quite a lot of people found them practical even then.

Andy Carter

(26)

Firstly, thanks for such a well written article - it was a pleasure to read.

I currently own a non-legal ebike (500W motor without a spend limit) and am converting a recumbent trike to a velomobile. I am not concerned about the legal aspects of the ebike - what will happen if I'm stopped by the police - will they take away my cycling proficiency test badge ;-) ?

I intend to add the ebike motor to my velomobile to create an e-velo as described above - better top speed, improved range and rider comfort.

The velomobile will never replace the car in family life for all of reasons discussed above. However, it could replace the car for 95% of journeys which are currently undertaken, commuting to work being the primary one. Most commuting journeys are 'relatively' short (less than 10miles) and have only one person in the car.

The velomobile, in my opinion, shouldn't aim to replace the car, but provide an alternative which can be used for the majority of journeys. With mass production the costs of velomobiles would drop dramatically, hopefully to a point where they can co-exist with a car in most households.

It is more realistic and almost as beneficial to aim for 75% of journeys to be completed at 50 times more efficient than an electric car, if the alternative is high cost, continuing dependence on fossil fuels and consumer ignorance.

The evolution of the car has gone from relatively small and modest (the mini) to large and extravagant (range rover/SUV). Now the trend seems to be returning towards smaller, more efficient, 'city' cars. Perhaps velomobiles could lead the way for individual, ultra-efficient personal transport...

Brecht Vandeputte

(27)

But, but,...
It's more expensive than a bicycle!
It can't carry as much as a van or even a cargo bike. Especially children and square objects!
It's not fast enough - it will enrage fossil drivers! It's too fast - teenagers will kill themselves in it.
It can only be used 50 weeks a year!
It's too wide. And there's no passenger seat.
It's a sports car! Why not make one of wood?
It's too rare! 6,999,999,9990 non eWAW drivers can't be wrong.
Shht, don't tell anyone about it, or the Law will spew regulations.
The world isn't ready for it. It isn't ready for the world.

It's a classic case of resistance to change. People aren't gladly confronted with the insight that they spend a day's wage a week on a car to stand a day a week in traffic. It's over folks! Roads are closed, oil is robbed, overconsumption's future isn't what it used to be. Just evaluate honestly what you experience on the road. Wouldn't you rather go out and play?

This article presents a solution to a fair amount of the first worlds important problems. It's here, it's mature, it's affordable, it's safe, comfortable and quick. It's healthy and green, good for your body and soul. And most of all, it's a blast to ride. What the hell do you want more? Are you only going to believe it if it's served to you by multinational marketing departments? Be a sheep and queue up - or be a friggin' lion and trust your power.

Godspeed you lowtechmagazine.com
Brecht Vandeputte, Fietser.be
eWAW rider and maker (you couldn't tell, could you?)

tp1024

(28)

@Brecht Vandeputte

When Henry Ford was trying to build and sell cars, he knew that people resist change. He said that if you asked them, they'd want to have a better horse and certainly not a car. But he didn't blame his potential customers.

Instead, he build cars that were worse than those of his competitors but also cheaper. People who weren't even remotely considered potential customers (cars were toys of some rich enthusiasts) started buying Ford's cars to use them and not merely as a toy either, because it made sense.

As it turned out, a car is a car is a car - even when its performance is somewhat worse than other cars, it still has that desired quality of being a car and being able to do the things a car can do. Perhaps a bit slower and a little less comfortable, but much cheaper. Putting it within financial reach and *reason* of people in general.

Resistance to change is strongest, when you demand a change towards unreasonable behaviour. And that's what you do when you demand that people should buy a velomobile that's as expensive as a new small car (it's even worse for used cars) but much less capable and much less comfortable.

Less capability and less comfort carries a lower price everywhere in the world (except for pure luxury items). This is a reality that must be accepted. Otherwise, you might as well demand that people starving in Africa for lack of wheat, rice and maize should simply go and get some food at their nearest McDonald's.

Kris De Decker

(29)

@ tp1024: You can buy a kit for the aluminum Alleweder a4, a6 or a8 for about 3,500 euro.

http://www.alligt.nl/bodies/bouwpakket-a4.htm

The Alleweder a8 is based on the WAW:

http://www.alligt.nl/bodies/alleweder-a8.html

The construction manuals are online:

http://www.alligt.nl/bodies/bouwhandleiding.htm

Hans Verbeek

(30)

Like.
Good alternative for people that are less talented than Lance Armstrong.

James Woo

(31)

I like the idea of a electric velomobile. Compared to a car however, a car due to is size & it being adaptable (range, carry 4, luggage) etc is a lot more flexible. The downside to flexibility is efficiency.

Perhaps instead of making velomobile outright efficient, it could be a way to sacrifice some of the efficiency for flexibility. They could be slightly larger ones to be able to carry passenger & grocery, & the ability to have longer range as well of even higher speed.

Rob Cotter

(32)

Very informative piece.
A large deterrent for conventional velomobile adoption is fitting into traffic. For the majority of commuters the ride height is just too low. Traditionally, the advancements of velomobiles has been around a racing configuration but much of the same technology can be utilized with an emphasis on integrating safely with traffic.
Proper lighting and increased carrying capacity are also requisites for mass adoption.
Organic Transit is doing this with proprietary design at an affordable price, $4,000 (US). The ELF has electric assist with integrated solar panels. www.OrganicTransit.com

Paul Gill

(33)

I am new to this site but I found this article superb. I love recumbents and think that they form some of the DNA for a possible solution. People love cars and while they love cars we will keep on burning stuff to make them and drive them. Radical designs are very rarely successful as the public like radical but don't buy radical. There is a design out there in someones head that will cross over car to velo and people will buy in to it. To me it appears quite grotesque that we build vehicles that weigh 1000-1500kg to carry (most of the time) one person weighing in at around 80kg, nearly 19 times as much energy used to move the car as move the person, no wonder we use so much fuel. The laws need to change also so the velo can fight on a level playing field.

Kris De Decker

(34)

@ tp1024 (#25):

Lead acid batteries: good point. A velomobilist could also be assisted by a combustion engine. Assisted cycles are as old as the cycle itself, and combustion engines to assist the cyclist were used on bikes up to the 1950s. Or we could use biofuel or wood gas. Whatever energy source you use, the result would be a very efficient vehicle compared to today's standards.

Dirk

(35)

@tp1024 (25)
Thrust me, I can't afford a new one neither. I realized it's worth scanning specialized secondhand sites, sooner or later one pop's up that you likely can afford. I must say that I'm living close to a concentration of manufacturers, hence bigger second hand market...

Dirk

(36)

For those interested in lowtech velomobiles:
http://plywoodvelomobile.blogspot.be/
There are other, some _very_ crafty examples out there. Yet don't underestimate the 'tech' content

Dirk

(37)

@Rob(32)
Thanks for the pointer, I wish you (lot's of) success. I can see that this might appeal to some people. Still I prefer my velomobile ;)

Frederik Van De Walle

(38)

Comparisons have their limitations. A velomobile needs a different mindset and a new modern velomobile will always be more expensive to purchase than an old barge of a car that will also transport you. However "unfair" this comparison is, for many this is a reality and it will take time to change this.

Even though only one model of velomobile is presented here, and even though the very concept of human levels of power won't be able to provide a 9-seater 5m^3 2000kg luggage capacity vehicle driving on the more and more utopic autobahn at 160km/h, with some imagination it is possible to picture a future with hundreds of different velomobile models that can cater a large portion of actual transportation needs.

Family? Well, perhaps a family in the future will think it very odd that everyone had the cramp together in the same vehicle and have to agree to go to the same place at the exact same time, when each teenager and adult can have their own vehicle yet still be social (you can actually be social when driving velomobiles - I prefer head out). My experience is that kids love velomobiles indeed and can provide an immense freedom, I got my first one when I was 15 and it was great! It was like a mature go-cart that I loved when I was around 10 years old.

Fast and dangerous? Yes unfortunately every vehicle can be very dangerous and kids are kids. But even if a velomobile has some more speed potential, that doesn't mean you have to go full speed everywhere - imagine if all car drivers did so. Indeed it remains the responsibility of the driver, and in case of kids, proper guidance. And for a young driver, I would still prefer a velomobile to a moped like many 14 year olds want but can't have yet - and some get anyway.

Also much can be said that a velomobile is safer than a bicycle on many points, but to promote it as a the new "safety bicycle" would perhaps not be the way to go, cars remain very "impressive" by comparison, crushingly impressive...

Some more on Speed with a big S. The Waw is here compared by some to a sports car as if its speed and perceived unpracticality is comparable to a superfluous luxury item like a sports car. But I would argue that the speed of a velomobile is anything as excessive like a sports car and that the speed of modern velomobiles today is highly functional. Yes Kris has already pointed this out well - longer distance transport, but it seems speed continues to carry stigma. Yes the design of the Waw has compromised some practical aspect for efficiency. But this efficiency is in itself is very, very functional for a us cyclist that have to power the vehicle, making it a 'practical' proposition for longer distances where a slower cargobike, indeed very practical in a load carrying sense, wouldn't even be considered. Not very practical then is it?

Different needs, different solutions. A WAW is not a cargobike, but will carry as much luggage as a typical bicyle, dry and without slowing down the aerodynamics. Of course you can make a vehicle that has its compromise somewhere else, and perhaps even manage to combine both quite a lot. I look forward to it.

I like to call our bodies the perfect engine, we can do much with human power, much more than in today's society, but we must also remember their limitations and that perhaps the very reason to embrace it, the fact that it can't get out of hand in the same way car mobility did. That has to be true, because if you put a too big electric engine in your velomobile, you just made a car...

Not to say there is no place for small, efficient electric cars, I very much like them in fact. But cycling on predominantly your own steam has something special, something that a theoretical defence cannot convey. It has to be experienced. Again and again...

Anyhow, thanks for another great article.

/Frederik - creator of the Waw

Paul Beelen

(39)

What about safety aspects... The fact that you are (very) low at the ground. A car in these dark winter days will hardly notice you. I ride with my pedelec 20 km to work (almost) every day. Summer and winter. In these days cars, other cyclists that don't pay attention or are playing with their phone, will not see you. I have special (reflective) clothing and a very bright 40 lux frontlight to be seen and to see.
The velomobile is however a good alternative, but very costly at the moment. My bike cost € 1,600.- (2009 in Holland). In the 17.000 km in 3 years I have done so far, I have saved about twice the original purchase price of the bike.

Kris De Decker

(40)

Much better link to the Alleweder:

http://alleweder.jp-web.de/index.php?page=introduction&lang=en

Azza

(41)

The Milan SL Carbon or the Go One Evo K with less than 24 kg and with better aerodynamics are the "Porsche" and "Mc Laren" of the velomobile?

Kris De Decker

(42)

@ Azza: I guess so. However, the Milan SL Carbon doesn't look so practical for daily use, with its closed wheel arches and turning cycle of 14 metres...

http://www.go-one.us/models/go-one-evolution
http://pedalyourselfhealthy.org/Velos/Specs/Vca-MilanSL-Carbon_Specs.html

Matt

(43)

@ Kris (#22)

Your source is from 2010 and outdated. there are new rules in place since may 2012

http://blog.veloplus.ch/2012/03/07/neue-vorschriften-fur-das-elektrovelo/

Unfortunately it is not legal to electrify velomobiles.

http://www.baselland.ch/fileadmin/baselland/files/docs/jpd/mfp/fahrzeug/dokumentation_elektro-motorfahrraeder.pdf

Good thing is that trailers for kids are allowed. Even for the fast 45km/h 1kW versions.

Its clear that Velomobil need less space than a car. But the situation is that our bike lanes are very narrow. Barely enough for a city bike. With a kids trailer I am already restricted in the routes. If I need to drive longer distances with a Velomobil because its to bulky I just stay with the bike.

Frederik

(44)

Width: a velomobile is approx 80cm in width. Bicycle handlebars are approx.70cm. Yes there are some differences as a bicycle has its width higher up and needs less track, on the other hand a velomobile does not need width for comfortably balancing the whole. All in all my experience is that width is generally not a problem except on the most narrow paths that are considered too narrow for comfort by bicycle users also.

Height and safety: a very valid concern is the question of visibility. Generally velomobiles get noticed very well but visibility can be obstructed by e.g. hedges and behind cars. Like all driving/riding, all progress in traffic is limited by visibility and the user mostly automatically adapts to those situations if they are careful. IF.... One important one is never to pass a car that has just stopped at full speed, nor to stop besides a car. Similar as visibility would dictate for a bicycle and van/truck.
There are many sitiations where a cyclist does not get noticed also and a velomobile adds a few and substracts a few. As should be in common with bicycle safety, the more users, the less accidents happen as all road users become more aware of each others presence.

I remember fondly when a friend for the first time was going to ride his bike with me in my Alleweder straight through a city. We were both well trained but he was in a hurry and very concerned about how long time it would take with my - in his eyes - big barge. At our destination he expressed his amazement on how well it went, and the barge had in his mind transformed to something much smaller and now very manouvrable.

Blake

(45)

Cool idea, if a bit utopian.

Unfortunately, in cities the Velomobile looses one of the bicycle's major advantages (that is shared with scooters, mopeds, etc):

- Where the heck do you park it?

As far as efficient basic transport goes, consider that a Honda 50 gets about 200mpg, can carry two people in a pinch, can be parked anywhere, is cheap as chips to buy & maintain anywhere in the world, and has been around for 50+ years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Super_Cub

Which is why they've built 60 million of them.

Granted it's not weatherproof like the velomobile, but you get the point...

Bill

(46)

While certainly such vehicles are practical in certain areas, lets be realistic about the fact that climate makes all the difference in the world.

In sunny California, or down south, such vehicles are indeed useful. However, in the Midwest (specifically Michigan), such vehicles are only useful at best for half the year. Trying to pilot those vehicles around in near freezing weather, let alone though potentially several inches (or feet!) of snow becomes uncomfortable if not near impossible.

Tyler

(47)

Car crash = dead person with a vehicle like this!

John Foster

(48)

Hi Kris,

Excellent, well thought out and obviously thought provoking!

I hope to hear more about the road experiences of VM pioneers in North America. NA has a knee-jerk "No!" with a thousand excuses to anything "small". But this attitude, along with regulations, will change as energy and economics slowly collapse. The ego of NA's mother (Britain) slowly imploded during her imperial denouement. The size of her vehicles shrank concordantly, and eccentricity became accepted. Anyone who thinks that downsizing of the American ego is impossible needs to read historical accounts of British arrogance.

My own attempt at velo-mobiling so far is a 3 person retro-styled homebuilt, about 1.3m wide. Relations with cars are very different than when riding a bicycle. It requires taking the lane, which I often do on a bicycle, but with no possibility of going back into the "bicycle slot" on the right side of the road. It's a new level of assertiveness to be out there in the center of the lane even when traffic is moving at 50-60kph.

My next project will be a single person 2 wheel. I'm tired of getting damp on my daily commute over Lion's gate bridge in Vancouver.

Forrest

(49)

These remind me of the Vector bike cases from the 80's. It would be good for off-road, but not street legal (highway). I'd surely hate to get into an accident with one :-) And, good luck finding an insurance company that would cover it.

Floyd Maxwell

(50)

I think the big factor limiting speed and forcing categorization is how a velo will handle being hit by a car. When limited to bike speeds and bike lanes, this is a non-issue. When you want to go 30 mph you are going too fast for a bike lane, so naturally you should be treated like a car. The ultimate solution is to have velo-only lanes that are the width of a car lane. On roads where there is no room for a full sized lane, you would need to step down the velo/bike lane speed to 15 or 20mph so that velos don't run bikes off the road.

Alex

(51)

I think that something like the AirPod is a much more realistic means of transportation than this device, which in my opinion will never be more than a fun curiosity item.

mattviator

(52)

I'm all for these types of vehicles but unless we have all covered or underground roads they are rubbish. what are you going to do if you have ice or a 6 inches of snow on the road? Or what will happen when you are traveling at a decent clip and there's a large pothole in the road and you can't avoid it because of traffic congestion? When they make something I can travel in with 3 kids in snow or ice and carry some groceries too that doesn't cost 20 k I'll bite untill then these are for hobbyists.

GRP

(53)

I always enjoy articles written by authors who have imbibed the flavor-aid. There seems to be a large segment of folks who believe that nobody actually carries anything in their cars besides themselves and maybe a tablet. I already take transit to work and have minimized vehicular use but for 90% of the trips I take a velomobile is simply not a realistic option. I can't take my hockey gear, golf clubs or kids with me in it and since that is the bulk of my car trips a velomobile would be just another toy...exactly what it is for folks in the real world.

Tim Brown

(54)

How is this different to a Sinclair C5?

Kris De Decker

(55)

@ Blake (#45). "Where the heck do you park it?"

Where you would normally park your car. At least two velomobiles can be parked where you could park only one car. Make that 4 velomobiles if we are talking about American cars.

@ Bill (#46). It's the other way around. Velomobiles are not very suited for hot climates, because an active human body produces lots of heat which cannot escape because of the bodywork. For the same reason, it is an excellent vehicle to drive in freezing conditions. The Dutch drive them especially in winter. And why would snow be a problem? We clear the roads for cars, why not for velomobiles?

@ Tyler (#47), Forrest (#49), Floyd (#50): I would not want to crash with a car either. But then again, the same goes when I am on my bicycle, and in that case I am not protected by a bodywork. If we want velomobiles and other light vehicles to be a success, we have to make sure they can be operated safely. We can do this by constructing dedicated cycle highways, as they do in the Netherlands or in Denmark, or we can do it by taking cars off the road. Since velomobiles and other light vehicles could perfectly replace most automobile trips, it would make a lot of sense to reserve at least one lane for them on each road.

@ Alex (#51) & Tim (#54). The Airpod and the Sinclair are welcome to share the road with the velomobile. The Sinclair does not protect its driver from the weather, by the way. Its aerodynamics are far from optimal and it is twice as heavy as the eWAW. But bad design is not reason why the Sinclair did not make it. The problem is that it is suicide to drive one because others are driving around in vehicles that weigh 100 times more. The design problem is on the other side.

@ Mattviator (#52) and GRP (#53): We discussed cargo capacity in the comments above. First: the eWAW can easily take your hockey gear or golf clubs. Second: there are velomobiles with larger cargo capacity, the eWAW is a sports vehicle. Any design is possible, including space for kids. Three: you could combine a velomobile (for fast commuting) with a cargo cycle (for transporting kids and large cargo). It will still be cheaper than owning one car.

@ John (#48). Thanks for explaining the tone of the comments here :-)

The article appeared on Slashdot:
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/11/04/0351231/electric-velomobiles-urban-transportation-for-the-future-available-now

Philip Williams

(56)

What I see missing from this particular discussion is the future re-engineering of our road network to allow high-efficiency commuting, specifically to limit acceleration and deceleration to the barest minimum. This points in the direction of:
- replacing traffic lights with traffic circles / round-abouts, so vehicles can merge & yield at higher-than-zero speeds
- solutions to the stop/go 'wave' effect during congestion (possible: car-to-car wifi automation)
- aggregators / distribution networks, picking the highest efficiency option available for a given stretch (foot to velomobile to bus to train to bus to velomobile to foot)
- separation of duties: you might take your bike to the store, pick your items, then have them delivered separately to your house by a higher-efficiency cargo service, without having to yourself purchase, maintain, or use a cargo-ready vehicle (same on long trips: just as you allow airlines to handle your lugguage, reliable & quickly-routed transport of goods should allow you to travel bag-free anywhere roads can take you). The main thing standing in the way of efficiently moving people between means of transport is that people don't like to be jostled about like boxes. But if we could put people on palettes and move them from bus to train to plane? Hmmm...

Starley Kemp

(57)

OK, I haven't read the whole of this article yet, but I'd like to make some comments from an initial scan of the piece.

The geek in me loves these things and wants to own one! BUT! the cyclist in me thinks that they are an abomination and a travesty of the bicycle. Velomobiles are the solution to a non-existent problem. When I showed this page to a cycling friend he said "I would rather drive a Renault Twizy than get in one of those".

There are a couple of annoying, naive statements in the opening paragraphs:-

"Few people find the bicycle useful for distances longer than 5 km".

That may be the case, but for a regular cyclist, a journey of less than 5km is barely a journey at all. One might even consider walking such a distance if there is no luggage to be carried! Driving a distance of 5km would be insane!

"It's clear that the bicycle is not a viable alternative to the car."

This is an incredibly stupid statement. For transportation of a single person within a city, the bicycle has no serious rival. This week I cycled from Blackheath in SE London to Regents Park in Central London during gridlocked rush hour traffic. I was riding a heavy (15kg) bike with luggage and wearing ordinary clothes. My bike has a heavy carbide-studded winter-tire on its front wheel. Distance: 20km. Journey time: 1 hour. I would love to see a car approach anywhere NEAR the speed of that journey time. You cannot beat it by bus, you cannot beat it by train. Possibly the only vehicle capable of beating that journey time would be a motorbike (but I have left motorbikes trapped in gridlocked traffic before).

I appreciate that you are advocating a system of mass transportation not just for the "few" fit, dedicated club cyclists (who regularly cycle in excess of 160km per week) - however we are not so few and we are growing rapidly. You say that "most" people won't cycle further than 5km, but I contend that it will be MUCH easier to convince people to get fitter, ride faster and ride further, than it will ever be to convince the same people both to get into ridiculous-looking velomobiles and to finance the creation of the necessary infrastructure to make their use practical.

DISCLOSURE: I may have drafted a few lorries on my journey into London. Nevertheless, I consider it a relatively low speed bike journey - I wasn't racing. When I got to my destination the only change of clothes I had to make was to take off my cycling jacket and change into walking shoes.

Pacôme

(58)

Just a quick correction, there is no state in Canada, but Provinces. Canadians can get offended that people make no difference between Canada and the US...

Starley Kemp

(59)

"It's clear that the bicycle is not a viable alternative to the car."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3pU4rRcUMs

Minor Heretic

(60)

I'd like to see a dedicated micro-rail system for velomobiles. it would:

- solve the road surface quality problem.
- solve the car/bike safety problem.
- allow the creation of a less hilly/curvey roadway for the velos.
- provide a caternary for power input, which would allow, in turn,
- unlimited range
- higher speeds

Imagine a half-meter gauge rail system with built in low voltage power. Velos could travel at highway speeds for a hundred kilometers, then "dismount" at a station and do the last few km on pedals and battery.

The rails could be elevated above regular traffic like old city rail systems. Because of the light weight of the vehicles, the infrastructure would be relatively light and cheap. It would be the best of both worlds.

Kris De Decker

(61)

@ Starley (#57 and #59): I love the video, but of course my point is long-distance transportation, not city traffic. Bikes are faster than cars in the city, period. But between cities, they are often slower than cars. That's where the electric velomobile comes in.

You write: "For a regular cyclist, a journey of less than 5km is barely a journey at all. One might even consider walking such a distance if there is no luggage to be carried! Driving a distance of 5km would be insane!."

The numbers prove otherwise. Few people use their bikes for distances above 5 km. Cars are used regularly for distances below 5 km. I agree that it's insane, but that's how it is.

@ Minor Heretic (#60): Great idea. There is only one vehicle more efficient than an electric velomobile, and that's an electric velomobile on rails. Braking distance would increase, though, so road capacity would decrease. Unless you hook the velomobiles together, as in a train. Switching from road to rail won't be so easy as you imagine, because of the need for another kind of wheels.

John Highet

(62)

Interesting article but obviously sponsored by Fietser! I have tried the WAW but it's lack of rear suspension was a major factor in choosing to buy a Dutch Quest XS . Your weight comparisons are wrong-- my Quest XS Carbon is lighter than the WAW at around 27 kg. In the hilly part of the UK where I live weight is very important. The side-stick (sometimes called "tank") steering is liked by some and not liked by others- it takes up valuable side space in the "cockpit" that can otherwise be used for carrying stuff. The claim of being the "Ferrari" of velomobiles is untrue- the WAW has it's good points but sells in very small numbers compared to other brands costing around the same price. You should do more homework before publishing such an article!

Kris De Decker

(63)

@ John (#62): the article was not sponsored by Fietser. I did not receive a velomobile (alas!) or anything else. All they did was allow me to test drive one of their vehicles. I hope you don't except me to buy every product that I review?

The lack of suspension is mentioned in the article. I quote myself:

"Of course, the WAW also has the drawbacks you can expect from a real sports car, like the very basic interior finish and the fact that the vehicle rattles like a box of rocks when you ride it over a cobblestone road. If road conditions are bad, other velomobiles with more comfortable suspension will be a better choice."

That's clear, no?

If the Quest XS Carbon has rear suspension, it will be more comfortable than the WAW, but at the expense of handling. Therefore, the WAW deserves the claim of being the "Ferrari of velomobiles". Contrary to the Quest XS Carbon, it makes no compromise.

About the weight: the Quest XS Carbon weighs 27.5 kg, versus 28 kg for the WAW. But the WAW is made for tall people, while the Quest XS ("Extra Small") is made for short people. The Quest Carbon for tall people weighs 30 kg. So, claiming that the Quest is lighter than the WAW, is simply not true.

You should do more homework before publishing such a comment.

Minor Heretic

(64)

Mr. De Decker (#61), the wheel problem can be solved with a double width, two-diameter wheel. Imagine a regular bicycle wheel with a slightly smaller steel/hard rubber wheel attached to the outside of it. The velo could operate on rails with the road tires hanging down just inside the rails.

As to the braking, make the velos operate at a fixed speed while under rail power. No overtaking possible. Establish off/on ramps with railroad style switching points and speed controls built in. It would be, in effect, a limited access highway with perfectly enforced speed limits. The velos could operate as close to each other as the speed of the switches would allow.

I remember seeing a chart of the power expenditure of the world speed record holder in a faired recumbent (Sam Watterson?). He put out 450 watts at 81 mph. I'm thinking that a bulkier and less aerodynamic velo could do 60 mph with 500 watts, about 1/30 the power of an efficient automobile.

Jonharson

(65)

As comfortable as a car you say? Does it have: onboard stereo system, ventilation, A/C, heating, a cup holder for my coffee, space to move at all, suspension, gps, space for your groceries, space for your kids, anything going for it? What will you do with that at -25C with a feet of snow on the ground? Would you really feel safe to drive that thing on the road along side a 15 tons Mack truck? Sure it might be efficient, but you will never see anyone but eco-hipster using that thing. How do you even fit an American in that thing?

As a side note, i just discovered this web site and some of the other articles have a really great quality of research going for them, keep up the good work, i just like to be that cynic asshole.

Vladimir Menkov

(66)

While not as cool or high-tech as the futuristic vehicles in this article, "electric velomobiles" of sorts are actually quite popular in some parts of China. The vehicle is basically an electric tricycle, with a cargo bed in the back that can be converted to seat a couple of passengers. I don't recall seeing them in major cities (where, perhaps, they would not be legal) or in the countryside (where, in general, people use motorcycles rather than electric vehicles, due to often rugged terrain and longer distances), but there were lots of them in Qufu, the small city best known as the hometown of Confucius. Apparently, the locals who need not just to get around, but also to move kids and stuff around, find these contraptions both practical and affordable.

Here's a photo report, from 2 years ago: http://vmenkov.blogspot.com/2013/02/electric-tricycles-of-qufu.html

It seems that the way such electric trikes are displayed in bike stores, they don't offer any protection from elements, but when they are actually used on the streets, they often do have some kind of a lightweight cover installed, keeping rain, dust, or cold wind away from the driver.

They don't seem to move very fast, as the design emphasizes cargo capacity rather than speed; there seems to be no problem with them coexisting with cars and bicycles (regular and electric) on Qufu's streets.

Laurent Dene

(67)

Excellent article!
I'm riding an unmotorized waw since 2 years (+ 20.000 kms) in Switzerland. I use it almost exclusively for commuting, winter/summer/snow/rain.

To do leisure/sporting bicycle trips I use other recumbents, as a velomobile

1) asks for much concentration (especially in and nearby city-traffic), and sometimes I want to ride and simply avail the surroundings which are splendid over here. A velomobile is not made for that (in comparison with other bicycles)

2) doesn't permit communication and group riding as you can do with other bicycles. I have a friend here that also rides a velomobile and I find that it is very difficult to communicate between riders when riding together.

So the velomobile is an excellent choice for commuting and outstands most other commuting vehicles in this situation. I do about 45 km a day with some serious climbing with an average riding time of 90 minutes. Buying the velomobile made it able to rely on a single car for our 5 headed family although we live at about 20 kms of the city center.

Concerning comfort I recognize that you don't have the same comfort as in a car but I think it would not be bad to question the supposed comfort of a car. In new cars I almost suffocate due to chemical vapors of all kinds, 2 of my 3 children as well as my wife if she doesn't drive, suffer from car-illness. And even older cars do easily smell... For me a car equals a big distance to cover with my family.

Finally, in busy commuting traffic I'm almost always faster then cars. The key is in the fact that when traffic jams I can take without a problem the bicycle accommodations.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. More then 30% of swiss citizens suffer from obesity. Also car comfort I think ...

G

(68)

I'm surprised at the number of frankly idiotic cynical comments here. Old bad habits die hard.

Clearly this generation of velomobile is not intended as universal transport. As with the original Tesla Roadster, it's breaking new ground and redefining categories. Over time we can expect to see the design advantages adapted to different types of vehicles that serve different purposes.

For example what I need is equivalent to a micro version of a tradesman's van, capable of carrying tools & equipment to jobsites, ideally having space for a coworker as well. An electrified enclosed version of the 1990s English "Brox" would be ideal (and here in the USA where thefts and armed robberies are the norm, it would require hard enclosures with locks). I'm patient and I can wait for that to come along.

As for commuting, the problem with commuting is commuting. Telecommute technology (working from home) is not only easy to implement but improves productivity and reduces overhead costs as well. The law should forbid, or tax out of existence, commuting to office jobs that don't involve putting hands on product. That would also free up road space for all kinds of vehicles including velomobiles, for trips that are truly necessary.

Here's a safety modification for anyone who's concerned about not being seen by automobile and lorry drivers: a high antenna festooned with triangular flags in fluorescent colors. Yes it will impact aerodynamics, but at city speeds that shouldn't be a major problem. The antenna could be designed in a manner that enables it to be pulled down tight to the velomobile's body (perhaps with a nylon line on a reel inside the cockpit?) on open roads with no traffic. Then when an approaching car or lorry is seen in the rearview mirror, press the button to release the reel, and the antenna springs up to signal your presence.

Meanwhile, the latest vehicular fetish here in the USA is the "self-driving automobile," brought to you by Google, the surveillance monster dressed up in shiny consumer packaging. The real purpose of self-driving cars is not "road safety," but to enable you to "consume media" on the road, the better to subject you to more intrusive advertising, whilst spying on you by tracking your trips and scanning your conversations for keywords and emotional tone. Fortunately these horrid things are still at the stage of "an experiment," so we have time to regulate them out of existence.

Speaking of marketing, here's how to get velos to catch on in the USA: In many states (California among them), three wheels = a motorcycle. So: create a series-hybrid configuration with a small gas engine and powerful electric motor, and call it a motorcycle. More to the point, call it a road rocket, because it looks like a rocket, and a series hybrid version will GO like a rocket. Appeal to the speed factor and the cool factor, with the added geek-cool factor of the high-tech powertrain. Then bring out the human/electric hybrid version as a "moped." I guarantee that will catch on and go viral. The purists here may wince and even get nauseous at the idea, but it will work.

AnthonyRizzo

(69)

I think it is a mistake to sell a velomobile as an alternative to the automobile. The fact is that with any motor-vehicle not an once of effort has to be exerted while with a velomobile the more effort you put in the more it will produce. A velomobile is nothing more than an extension of the human driver. It maximizes the effort one would put out by walking 10 even 15 times. It is the ultimate bicycle.

BTidwell

(70)

I'm new to Low Tech magazine and perhaps it is primarily Eurocentric, which would be perfectly understandable. I live in Georgia (SE USA) Our summers can occasionally get to 100F with 70-80% humidity and our winter days get close to freezing fairly often. Not fun. Even more important, a very high percentage of commutes include some highway travel. Aside from that, I'm surprised safety is hardly mentioned in this article.

A velomobile would be below the sight lines of most sports utility vehicles popular in the US and almost invisible to Semi-trucks and delivery vans. I would not count on a few flags (as someone suggested) to be noticed. Do these things swerve? What is the stopping length? (maybe I missed that)as other have said, this is heavy enough to seriously injure a pedestrian who steps in front of it. Do driver's have insurance?

In the US most bicyclists ride in the gutter at the edge of the streets, bike lanes being rare to nonexistent. A velomobile is too large to pass and American drivers drive very fast, even on surface streets. Auto drivers would be furious and take huge risks to get around it.

Cute toy, but not close to practical for any use on our side of the pond. The price is breathtaking! I can get a small car for that and not be miserable, or taking life in my hands, using it.

Talking about what people "should" do is pointless when it slams hard into the brick wall of what they will, or can, do and comes out worse for wear.

Pete Sherwood

(71)

@Kris

re:
Electric Velomobiles: as Fast and Comfortable as Automobiles, but 80 times more Efficient

The title seems inaccurate to me:

first: a motorised velo is NOT as fast as any automobile I know of

second: no bicycle will ever be as comfortable as 90+ percent of automobiles

third: I could not wrap my head around the "80 times more efficient" equation... against "automobiles" ... The Leaf, in the minds of 90+ percent of human beings IS NOT an true automobile... care to elaborate, expand or justify the statement?

I am trying hard to envision such a solution in a significant portion of the US, however, it's not working for me. That being said, I've lived in numerous communities that have biking paths that might accommodate a pedal version but none that would tolerate motorized speeds. Except in small town US communities, I can't see these being accommodated easily. We here in New Mexico have a high percentage of traditional bicyclists so acceptance is not a major issue.

It's the lack of being able to achieve at least 55 MPH / 88 KPH speeds, in my opinion, which would be the impediment, as that's sort of a minimum here (as in most communities I've lived in), in order to garner "respect" by other drivers and move around on the roads in the community safely. Ergo, the reason most mopeds are barely accepted as all-around road vehicles. They are tolerated but not truly accepted. I've lived in eight states (and two Canadian Provinces) and this seems to be a given in most of them.

As BTidwell (#70) alluded, there are places that moving along at Freeway speeds (65 MPH / 100 KPH) is highly preferable.

I also agree that at $10,000.00 US plus for a pedal version (didn't find a motorized version price) I can't see people in the US purchasing these when a two person used smart car can be purchased for that same price or less and achieves freeway speeds.

In addition, all of this is included:
1.0L, 3 CYL., FUEL INJECTED, AUTOMATIC RWD, POWER STEERING, POWER BRAKES, POWER DOOR LOCKS, POWER WINDOWS, AM/FM STEREO RADIO, RADIAL TIRES, ALLOY WHEELS, GAUGE CLUSTER, CLOCK, TRIP ODOMETER, TACHOMETER, *AIR CONDITIONING, TINTED GLASS, INTERVAL WIPERS, REAR DEFROSTER, DRIVER SIDE AIR BAG, PASSENGER SIDE AIR BAG, CONSOLE, CARPETING, VANITY MIRROR, DAY/NIGHT LEVER, DUAL SPORT MIRRORS, DRIVER SIDE REMOTE MIRROR, FRONT BUCKET SEATS, RECLINING SEATS, CLOTH UPHOLSTERY, TWO TONE PAINT, BODY SIDE MOLDINGS, MAP LIGHTS, INSIDE HOOD RELEASE, *COMPACT DISC PLAYER, FOLD DOWN REAR SEAT, STEP BUMPER, ANTI-LOCK BRAKING SYSTEM, MAINTENANCE FREE BATTERY, HALOGEN HEADLIGHTS

PS: I tried to select a true automobile with a similar size and price-range and hopefully this is not offensive in any way

Susi Kellermann

(72)

I live in a rural and slightly hilly area in southern Germany, and most people here commute to work 15 to 50 km (10 to 35 miles) daily. So our area could be the ideal environment for velomobiles.
But alas, as BTIdwell(70) and Pete Sherwood(71) said, as long as velomobiles have to share streets with cars, there are three huge problems: speed, sight lines and crash safety.
Like in America, there are almost no bike lanes in rural areas like ours. But there are many SUVs and delivery vans on the roads between villages and they rarely go at less than 50 MPH / 80 KPH. They fume at the few bikers and not so few tractors that make them go slow (often very suddenly when going over a hill or around the bend) and they will take the narrowest (literally) chance to overtake them. They can't do much harm to a tractor, but bikers live in constant danger here.
Also, many people here do their shopping when on their way home, or pick up kids, relatives or neighbors - all of which is difficult to do with the limited space a velomobile provides.
Therefore, I think that velomobiles, even when enhanced with better lights and batteries, will be generally accepted and used only when fuel cars will become too expensive because of Peak Oil. Then they will be the vehicle of choice for commuting in rural areas. That is, in 10 to 15 years...

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