I’ve toyed with this idea before, and even looked at getting an old sinclair C5 as a commuter. The concept of velomobile + e-assist appears to tick a lot of practical boxes. I’m not interest in going ultra fast or even being super aero. What would be useful would be to commute over some reasonable hills about 10 miles and not end up at “the office” nackered, sweaty and soaked in the Scottish weather. To do it with some work papers, a laptop and either wearing my suit or with it safely folded on board would be ideal. Yes, I know it can be done with a sensible bike using panniers etc. Yes I could go ebike to make it more practical with those big hills. In fact I have done this but only with logistics drops for the once a week I am at that site, which somewhat defeats the purpose.
So some of you must have done this or considered it?
They are stupidly expensive. I can’t see why, other than being essentially one off engineering jobs. some also seem surprisingly heavy – is that because they are essentially recumbants with body shells? Would a monocoque be a more weight efficient concept? If the design is kept simple is a DIY one realistic without becoming heavy or rubbish?
If anyone has experimented, is the sinclair concept totally dead – I.e. Could an open top 15mph e-assist with modern technology be viable? c5’s had no suspension, is that an issue? most seem go but that adds cost and design complexity. Does it need to be FULLY enclosed to get the benefits or could some sort of fabric skirt (almost like a kayak) achieve comfort in the rain?
It may well come to nothing, but it strikes me as an obvious solution – so why is it not more widely used? I cant be the only one who fancies a gentle ride out of the elements?Posted 3 years ago
Visibility is an issue
Ie folk seeing you not you seeing them.Posted 3 years ago
Trail rat. I can see that, although brightly coloured and lit up like a Christmas tree it should be better than most of cyclists I see on that route! I was thinking that a raised “roll bar” type structure with light / reflectors would be a good idea. most of the route I would use is country back roads and doesn’t have junctions where the usual lorry/left turn issues happen. But I’ve never been in one so it may still be terrifying?Posted 3 years ago
It’s the being low down not being the shape and size of a conventional vehicle.
Lad round here has a bright yellow one. Only rides it at night now.
The lights let him be seen. He has one set low down and a set up high on poles so he looks like a regular bike. When he used to be out in daylight it was crazy how invisible he became and thats as a cyclist I can only imagine what it’s like to non cyclists who ain’t caring.Posted 3 years ago
I think you’re prob right, battery tech has come a long way since the C5! I could see this working. Not sure if it’ll be cheap though! 🙂Posted 3 years ago
http://www.kinetics-online.co.uk/ this is the man to speak to I believe. Posts on here. Never spoken to him but comes across as a knowledgeable chap.Posted 3 years ago
Mmmm… Yes but if that sort of budget was going to get approved I might as well buy a car with a passenger seat, a heater, windscreen wipers, a radio etc…
I’m not suggesting that the time, specialist engineering or rare parts involved don’t justify the price – its just that my sanity will be questioned if I can build one for bangernomics values never mind the cost of car with a warranty!Posted 3 years ago
I have long desired a Sinner Mango. I make do with a recumbent trike. I could add fairings but have not. Low down feet out front is great fun. Always brings a smile.
As for visibility, I have never had an issue. Vastly more space given than my upright bikes. Thumbs up from White Van Man is pretty common.Posted 3 years ago
Visibility is amazing. On any recumbent really, but especially velomobiles you get a ridiculous amount of space on the road. It’s not that car drivers don’t see cyclists, it’s that they ignore them – no-one ignores a velomobile!
I’ve got an Alleweder in the shop if you want a go on one.
The biggest problem with them really is what you do with it when you’re not riding it – you really need a big shed or garage for storage. You can get most of the weather protection using a fairing on a recumbent trike, which is lighter and cheaper and you can take the fairing off for summer.
But velomobiles are a lot of fun 😉Posted 3 years ago
poly – Member
…Would a monocoque be a more weight efficient concept? If the design is kept simple is a DIY one realistic without becoming heavy or rubbish?
…c5’s had no suspension, is that an issue?
Back in the 60s I had a Bond 3 wheeler, alloy monocoque, no rear suspension, 200 cc Villiers engine which turned with the front wheel. It weighed 340lbs which was handy because whenever I capsized it, it was easy to lift off me, especially when it caught fire. 🙂
I have often thought a similar thing would be viable with an electric motor. All we need are pedestrian friendly speed limits, ie 20 mph in town, and vehicles like this would become more common and acceptable.
It looked like this except mine was possessor of many dings and bashes and half a windscreen (perspex):Posted 3 years ago
The biggest problem with them really is what you do with it when you’re not riding it
This would be the biggest issue for me…
The thing about a normal bike is that it’s easy carry up a flight of stairs, hop up a curb, leave in a friends hallway, or store in the work bike shed. And i’m not sure many people want to be low down when commuting in a city, it feels quite scary and you’re a lot closer to the exhaust pipes and pollution.Posted 3 years ago
You’re not that low down, you’re about eye level with car drivers – which is really good for making eye contact.Posted 3 years ago
Just to echo what Ben said, as an ex-recumbent owner myself, you never get any SMIDSY moments. Standard cyclist just blend into the background, recumbent are weird and unusual, and the brain just doesn’t ignore them. Even though they are low, they much more visible.
Because they are quick though you do you do get the odd SMIDEYTBGTBF* moments when people pull out on you. I overtook a car at 50mph once coming down Beacon Hill from Farnham to Fleet who did that.
*sorry mate, I didn’t expect you to be going that bastard fastPosted 3 years ago
Off to work on n mine. Trike to work recovery day.Posted 3 years ago
Depending on the attitude of the car park monitors I might get away with storing it in the inside garage (essentially if I can do it without stealing a paying parking space) at the main office – but its a very convenient train commute so that isn’t when I’d be most inclined to use it – that would be on the roughly once a week I am at another location which is a PITA on public transport, but also over some big hills that make it a slog on a bike (for a fatty like me). I really don’t want to buy a (second) car just for that once a week. Unfortunately that’s the one time a week I actually need to be properly presented (suit) too. The good news is that storage at that end is definitely not a problem – if anyone breaks into that car park they will have bigger issues than theft on their hands!
Storage at home is more of an issue, but I see no issue with it sitting directly outside the house where it can be locked down and plugged in (to charge) – there is no garage but it is on a “driveway” and in a relatively nice area.
Epicyclo – I may be willing to relax my second car rule for that!
Ben – that’s a nice offer, I wouldn’t want to waste your time if I am unlikely to buy one though. But if things get closer to fruition, I might be in touch for a sanity test.
So – suspension? Essential for on road stuff you’d happily ride a road bike over or not? (i.e. does the different geometry make sus more important?).Posted 3 years ago
poly – Member
…Epicyclo – I may be willing to relax my second car rule for that!
Don’t! I had a ball with it, but it was deadly – which is ok when you’re young and immortal and think being pinned under a blazing convertible is funny.Posted 3 years ago
Mine has no suspension, and I ride with 20″ Schwalbe Durano tyres at 110 PSI. the seat is webbing and provides some suspension. It also has a close ratio 9-speed block 11-21, which, with a triple on the front, provides closely spaced gears and cruising at about 28 km/h. I was worried about gearing with the small wheels, but found that the close cassette and 11T mitigated these. The fastest I’ve been is 55 km/h. Above 45 km/h one feels like a passenger anyway!!
And on the ride today, I went around the Heathrow Perimeter Road. To give you an idea of space left, you could drive a car between me and the overtaking lorries (on the single carriageway). Visibility just isn’t an issue for me. I’ve never come close to a SMIDSY. I have seen cars almost hit the kerb on the opposite side of the road when overtaking, however. Mine sports a nice flag with a sun on it 8)
Downsides: well filtering in traffic is not an easy skill. Pothole watching becomes acute (three wheels not one). Not quite as fast as a road bike. Uses different muscles, so needs acclimatizing, especially soft tissues which take the weight. Rear visibility is difficult and mirrors tend to vibrate too much to be really useful. I’m considering the Garmin rear radar and perhaps a glasses-mounted third-eye mirror.
The only bike with more smiles/mile is my kiddyback tandem.Posted 3 years ago
Ben – that’s a nice offer, I wouldn’t want to waste your time if I am unlikely to buy one though. But if things get closer to fruition, I might be in touch for a sanity test
Meh, I’m used to tyre kickers 😀
The nice thing about the Alleweder is that it’s available as a kit to build yourself.Posted 3 years ago
Would you not get sweaty as hell inside a fully faired machine?Posted 3 years ago
PS I want this one
Would you not get sweaty as hell inside a fully faired machine?
They generally have pretty good ventilation – a hole for your feet and the top hole, so you usually get a reasonable airflow through.Posted 3 years ago
One of my colleagues commutes in one of these (flevobike Orca) 25 miles or so each way.
Thinks it’s great, biggest issue for him is all the other cyclists going the other way on the cycle path have their lights pointing right into his eyes.Posted 3 years ago
Thinking of E-fying my tadpole: I haven’t the speed for busy rush hour roundabouts.
Short cranks help and never had a problem with cars overtaking – just feel like I’m holding traffic up / hard to filter / too wide for local cycle paths.
Side winds take a bit of getting used to.
Fairing comes off in summer – but I plan to put a hard shell on / maybe correx with a motorcycle ‘dome’.
Relaxing – and ‘micheal crawford on a sun-lounger’ fast downhill 🙂
(need to source a rear disc wheel left handed freewheel to sort out motor boost ?)Posted 3 years ago
+ got rear suspension -comfy- not sure if front suspension would solve ‘pot holes, bump and steer’?Posted 3 years ago
Trikes shouldn’t really bump steer anyway, if the steering geometry is set up properly. What front sus is good for is the rougher roads, and also places where you can’t swerve to miss a pothole. It’s also perhaps more useful on a velomobile where you can’t see what the front wheels are doing.Posted 3 years ago
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