Velomobiles – The Inside View

Some time ago I showed a distant relative the drawing of the Quest velomobile, the same which give to visitors and is also shown on the front page.  This relative, who has seen the Quest in the wild, expressed surprise to learn that it is essentially a pedal powered trike.    Since he had seen no visible wheels he had been under the impression that  there was just some kind of two wheeler under the smooth body.  This misperception got me thinking and impressed me that, to the uninitiated, it is not obvious what is hidden inside many a velomobile.

Similar to the short and humourous post about how velomobiles are perceived, one can take the view that hiding the contents can be both a good or a bad thing depending on where the external viewer is coming from.  In his video presentation, Steve Mosca asserts, that having the pedaling concealed inside the body has helped the acceptance of the velomobile on the US roads whereas a regular, and exposed, cycle would receive a more hostile response.  On the other hand, for the ignorant, not knowing, may well lead to a more negative view and perhaps prejudice a potential rider from learning more.  I therefore decided it would be a good idea to collect a series of images to illustrate the “inside view.” This collection is presented below.

Perhaps following a similar line of thought, Graeme Obree designed his Beastie speed bike with a transparent fairing expressly so the observer could see the human engine at work underneath.  Seethebeastie-MAIN-520x292However for most velomobiles this is not possible, as the fibres in the Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) body, render the material opaque.  So in the physical world, apart from what can be seen through the canopy, all else is destined to remain a mystery.  Leaving the physical world and turning to the illustrated and virtual worlds there is no such limitation, here artists, photo-manipulators and computer modellers are free to render what ever surface they like transparent.

The Quest shown at the top of the front page was not the first such image.  Prior to designing the Quest the good folks at Velomobiel worked at FlevoBike and were involved in the first FRP velomobile of this type, the Carbon or C-Alleweder later known as the Limit.  A similar artist’s cut-away was produced, as shown below.

C Alleweder Cut-away Drawing

Even earlier, the success of the fledgling HPV movement in the US, and the particular successes of the Vector racing trike, caught the interest of the mainstream media.  As a result the following see-through image of the Vector was produced, which graced the cover of the December 1983 issue of Scientific American.See-through drawing of the Vector

Going back even further it is possible to source drawings of machines from the pre-modern or first velomobile era.  The first of these is the Velo Velocar by Mochet.  The Velocar was the four-wheel HPV produced in France in some numbers during the inter-war years.  The Velo-Velocar was the bicycle produced when Velocar was split in two, and was the precursor to the modern recumbent.  Infamously banned by the UCI in 1934 because of its superior performance, Mochet went on to set unofficial records using a fully faired version as shown below.Velo Velocar cut-away profile view

Independent of the Mochet Velocars, but driven by similar need for practical transport and spurred on by the creative cycle developments of the time, a set of build-it-yourself plans for the Fantom were published in Sweden in the 1940s.  Other Scandinavian countries beside Sweden had many home-builders and a few thousand of these plans were sold, a number of which were built and some survive till today.  The arrangement drawing below gives an idea of the internal layout and proportions.Fantom velomobile general arrangement drawing

Returning to contemporary times, and to the power of photo editing software.  Here we have the Borealis.  Produced by Steve Schleicher in Canada, the Borialis is notable as being perhaps the first velomobile offered as an after-market kit to be fitted to a production trike.  Designed to fit a number of models produced in the UK by ICE.  Merging a couple of suitably aligned shots shows you just what it is like when body and trike are brought together.Borealis velomobile composite cut-away image

A similar composite image has been produced to illustrate the Rotovelo by Trisled.  Although the Rotovelo is sold as a complete velomobile it has a similar structure in that the plastic body does not have enough rigidity to carry load which instead is carried on a trike frame.Composite photo of a yellow Rotovelo velomobile

Returning to graphics and this time to the power of CAD.  Miles Kingsbury put some serious effort into the design, development and production of his four wheel Quatro velomobile which first saw action in the 2011 ROAM event in the US.  The CAD model was not only used for aerodynamic development but also to assess ergonomics and rider fitting.  The following is taken from his Kingcycle page documenting the design.


Finally we come full circle and return to a speed bike and its representation of both bike and rider as the product of the artist’s mind.  The following work of art by C Michel Lewis, an advert for a corporately sponsored HPV event in 2009, appears to depict a Varna speedbike riden by Sam Whittingham.  Mr Whittingham of course held the world HPV speed record for a number of years, a record established in a Varna speedbike at the annual Battle Mountain event, an event for which Mr Lewis regularly provides the poster art.



The above collection serves to illustrate a range of velomobiles, both in terms of design purpose and development in time.  It is not exhaustive.  If any readers are aware of other similar illustrations please make use of the comments below to let us all know.

First Post 2015


Time flies!  Again several months have passed and a new year has begun and again I have to apologize for the lack of content on the blog.  This is not  for want of material but rather a lack of time to concentrate on writing and presenting it.  As it stands there are several articles in the pipeline, some started months ago, it is hoped these can be finished and published shortly.  One is ready to go and should be posted immediately after this status update.

2014 was also a year with many developments of interest in the velomobile world (both tours and new velomobiles) and it is hoped to write a few articles sumarising these.  2015 also looks set to build on 2014 with the promise of more high profile velomobile tours and hopefully the 8th velomobile seminar later in the year.

With this brief note wishes all readers a happy and prosperous 2015.

Cyclospace – French Family Velomobile Seeking Crowd-funding

After the successful crowd-funding campaign that kickstarted the ELF velomobile into production in the US comes a new campaign, this time in Europe, using the Kiss Kiss Bank Bank crowd-funding site.  Regrettably all the information that can currently be gleaned, including the Cyclospace’s Kiss Kiss Bank Bank page, is in French (, Roulez-different, & Velorizontal) and is scant of technical information.  However with a bit of machine translation we can provide the reader with the following details

veloca11The Cyclospace, like the ELF, is a practical velomobile, with more than a nod to the original Mochet velocar of the 1930s.  Unlikely to appeal to those who aspire to the high-end race capable machines, and even less likely to overtake them, it is none-the-less a relatively economical solution for those who are looking for a sociable Human Powered Vehicle, with some degree of both weather protection and aerodynamic advantage.  As such it meets our definition of a velomobile.

cyclospace-lt-zDesigned by Nicolas Trüb in 2007, a French engineer with some experience in bringing designs to market.  The Cyclospace “Classic” is a 2.5 seater (officially 3-seater as there is a small child seat between the rear wheels) formed from either steel or aluminium frame work with some components in carbon and stainless steel.  Depending on the frame choice, the weight comes in at either 40kg or 60kg.  The design is aesthetically simplistic and evidently chosen for economy of construction and can be compared to the Rhodes Car produced in the US.  Those used to the double curvature and sculpted forms of the established velomobile designs seem to have a problem with the aesthetic, however, as others have pointed out, it is not really fair to compare a Citreon 2CV with a Ferrari.  The following video might give some taste of the ride.

So far the Cyclospace has seen limited production, with a total of 7 machines on the road, one as far away as Azerbaijan!  It is unclear if the various prototypes are included in this figure.  Should you wish to acquire a Cyclospace Classic for yourself you can order one through La Boutique du Futur for collection in France.

The Cyclospace Classic has seen continuous development since 2008 with plenty of feedback from real world testing.  However development is now going up a gear which is where the crowd-funding campaign comes in.  In 2013 M. Trüb began construction of a 5-seater prototype, to be called the Cyclospace XXL. The new model design will have 4 sets of pedals and a 250W electric assist system with solar charging.

Profile of Cyclospace XXLFunds are now needed to finalise the prototype and take the design into production.  Should the campaign’s rather modest goal of €4,600 be broken investment in further designs are promised.  These include a pedal-powerd trailer, compatible with both the Cyclospace Classic and the Cyclospace XXL, and a narrow single seater model.  The combination of the XXL and trailer is interesting as it offers the prospect of a staggering 8 person sociable cycle experience, a HP Minivan, albeit only 6 would be providing power and the remaining 2 passengers would have to be small.

Profile of Cyclospace TrailerThe pledges range from €6, for a signed print, all the way to €5,400, for a Cyclospace XXL you can call your own.

Finally a brief video of M. Trüb enjoying his own creation.

One Tough Velomobile? No! Two Whole Teams.

In typical Ozzy style Trisled performed the following good humoured stunt to effectively demonstrate the durability of their robust and practical Rotovelo velomobile.  Perhaps the beginnings of a new sport – Velomobile Ice Hockey.

The video clip was produced and edited by Lochlan Gay, a Year 11 student from Mt Eliza Secondary College. Working with six cameramen across 26 cameras, Lochie was then charged with poring over 20 hours of footage to produce the final five minute cut.

The players are evidently enjoying themselves immensely, and the resilience of the roto-moulded shell to the repeated impacts is clear.  As one commentator has remarked, “don’t try this in your Quest.”  Perhaps not so obvious is the clear stability of the trike compared to a bike in icy conditions.  Another feather in the velomobiles all-weather cap.

The opposite extreme to Trisled’s practical velomobile are the high end racing machines that they produce for Australia’s flourishing sport of HPV racing (See the Australian HPV Super Series Pedal Prix and RACV Energy Breakthrough pages).  Trisled took these machines a step further in 2012, when they entered one bike and one trike, in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain.  The Trisled machines performed well with the trike, with Gareth Hanks in Completely Overzealous, setting a new world record in the three wheel category and stimulating interest in further trike development.

The following video gives a mostly cockpit eye view of the record setting run.

Trisled are expected back at Battle Mountain this year with an all new trike, All Overzealous, no doubt with expectation to push the trike record further still.  The results should be available by the end of next week.


Impressive Home-Built Velomobile

For those who have some degree of skill and time to spare the DIY route can significantly lower the costs of acquiring a velomobile.  The down side to this approach tends to be visible in a less than professional appearance of the finished product.  The following builder’s video of an electric assist velomobile from Norway demonstrates this need not be so.  Built in a style that echos the Trisled Avatar it displays a high quality of workmanship.

YouTube user bjofuruh describes his machine as follows:

This is my home made velomobile. It is constructed around a carbon fibre monocoque shell, moulded over a male plug. Front suspension is the same as Qest Velomobiel, rear suspension is a self made fork with a Risse Astro damper. Motor is a Golden Motor Smart Pie, controlled by a Cycle Analyst computer that also serve as a cycle computer, displaying a large amount of data. The velomobile is very stable and mnouverable, front wheels are 20″, rear wheel is 26″. Front brake is Sturmey Archer 90mm drum brake, and rear brake is standard disk brake. I have incorporated a kind of “force doubler” to the front brake lever to get adequat braking power. Battery is a 48V – 15Ah LiFePO4 battery, enabling a range of about 200 km in a relatively flat terrain.
I have tried to obtain low drag in combination with good stability and a low turning radius. The emphasize is on practicality combined with high performance.

The following  video, showing the same machine in it’s original paintwork, also gives a good demonstration of the electric assist on the local Norwegian hills.

Battle Mountain 2014 Coming Up

WHPSC Battle Mountain 2014med The 2014 World Human Powered Speed Challenge, organised by the IHPVA and held annually outside the town of Battle Mountain in the US State of Nevada, starts on Monday 8th, and promises a week of interest as several International teams of engineers, technicians and athletes compete to set records and push the speed boundary achievable by human power alone.

It has been two years since we last reported on Battle Mountain and the last two occasions set new records in several categories and served to raise the public profile of the event.  The 2013 WHPSC was significant as a new top speed world record was set by Sebastiaan Bowier of Human Power Team Delft, in the Velox 3, with a speed of 83.13 mph, displacing long time record holder Sam Whittingham.  A depiction of the Velox 3 is featured on this years WHPSC poster.  Human Power Team Delft and Sebastiaan are back this year with a new machine, the Velox 4, and two new riders.  Sam Whittingham has suffer a couple of injuries recently and will not be competing this year, however Varna builder Georgi Georgiev will be there with female world speed record holder Barbara Buatois, to defend and/or extend her title.  After pulling out of the 2012 WHPSC, Graeme Obree did compete in 2013.  While not achieving his stated aim of 100 mph, he was successful in setting a new prone rider world speed record as well as drawing media attention to the event as a whole.

Additional teams include: Team Cygnus, also from the Netherlands; a Canadian partnership between the HPV development lab AeroVelo and the University of Toronto with their ETA which used Kickstarter to raise funds for the build; a team from Russia; and several other teams and individuals from the US, Europe and the UK.  Not wishing to jump ahead too far but a couple of similar university teams/partnerships to AeroVelo have plans to compete in 2015, but more of that when the time comes.

Lastly and by no means least, Australian velomobile manufacturer Trisled, who set a tricycle world record in Completely Overzealous in 2012, are back with a new and more advanced trike, All Overzealous, and the old trike has been passed on to a US team so it should be interesting to compare how each perform.

Results should be posted as usual on the WHPSC 2014 Results Page.

For any unfamiliar with the WHPSC, the following News clip provides a good, albeit dated, introduction.

Hiatus Hopefully Over


It has been well over a year since I last posted anything and almost two years since there was significant activity here.  The lack of activity has not been for want of news, as plenty of newsworthy goings on over the last year could have been reported.  Instead for various personal reasons I have been obliged to take a prolonged leave of absence.  As a result the site has fallen behind both in reporting and development.

To make up, and hopefully rejuvenate site activity, I expect to be posting several catch-up articles plus finishing others still in draft from over a year ago

So far 2014 has been busy with a number of velomobile highlights including several significant organised road trips and a number of new velomobile models.  There have also been several other industry changes among the manufacturers all of which need covering. While we are now leaving summer and moving toward the end of the year there are still a number of events to anticipate including the upcoming Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain.

S o with my apologies all I can say for now is, watch this space …

Coasting Downhill in a Quest

The following nice 10 minute video shot by William Hunt somewhere in the US desert-lands shows what can be achieved just by smoothing the shape of a moving body.  Without pedalling he tops 55 mph!

Meanwhile back in the UK we have another velonaut breaking the speed limt in a Quest XS.  According to the subtitles top-speed is 62 mph with a previous record of 67 mph

Benefits of a Velomobile

Canadian, Larry of the VeloRydr blog, has produced the following nice, “Benefits of a Velomobile,” graphic.  The original graphic, featuring a Mango, has been supplemented by a number of variations featuring other velomobile models, including a quest and a WAW.The Benefits of a Mango

If your machine is not there, Larry may well do a variant for you, if you ask him nicely.

How They Build a Brompton

It is not a velomobile, but it is certainly a very valid part of a transport portfolio.  In the how-stuff-works category is the following, short US produced video, showing the manufacture of an iconic British folding bike, the Brompton.

Now what we need is a video showing a velomobile being made.

But wait we do!  Below you can watch an Alleweder A4 build itself – apparently untouched by human hands.