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.

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.

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.

Cyclevision is on for 2013

Cyclevision 2012 LogoThere were rumours that the Dutch specialist cycle, recumbent and HPV event Cyclevision had run out of steam and been cancelled for 2013.  However we learn from that this is not the case and the dates have been set for June this year.

Cyclevision has also returned to the usual location of FlevOnice near Biddinghuizen on Flevoland.  Last year FlevOnice was undergoing financial difficulties which forced a relocation to the Midland Motor Racing Circuit outside Lelystad, on the other side of Flevoland.  Now with a new owner those difficulties have been resolved and it is possible to return to the preferred location.

Map of FlevOnice 2011More details will be posted on the usual Cyclevision page in due course and there is also a facebook page and a facebook event page.  Links to photos blogs and reports on Cyclevision 2011, the previous time at FlevOnice, are on this page.

The program is still being developed but there will be the usual races, competitions, lectures and recumbent try-out opportunities.  New this year will be a dedicated dealer and manufacturer area and trade show.

EuroTour – Plan B, Plan C and 2014

Euro Tour LogoAs hinted, when the cancellation was announced, other plans have arisen from the ashes.

A new European based volunteer, Evelien van Jeroen, has stepped forward to continue the plan for the original EuroTour, which has now been postponed to 2014, and lead the organising.  With the organisation now based in Europe there is good hope that many of the difficulties the previous organiser encountered will be easier to over come.  At present there are plans for the organisers to meet at SPEZI in April, meantime announcements will be made via the logical-vehicles forum.

Additionally, a group has been formed to continue with plans for a somewhat smaller tour, to take place this year.  Originally proposed by Carl Georg Rasmussen of Leitra and dubbed Plan B, more details, and the option to register, can be found at the original site.

EuroTour Plan B Draft Map

The tour is expected to take place over two weeks with two rest days and the intention is to start the tour in Leer, Germany, about a month after the HPV World Championships are held there.  The route will then take the velomobiles through a number of principal cities in the Netherlands followed by Belgium and a corner of France.  From there the proposed route will pass through Luxemborg and then follow the Mosel and Rhein rivers back to Leer.

A third plan has also been proposed, by organisers from Austria to incorporate a further small scale tour into their third summer velomobile gathering at Lake Constance (Bodensee).  Perhaps it might be appropriate to dub this additional alternative Plan C?

However these various plans develop, there looks to be plenty of positive velomobile promotional activity over the coming months.