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.

Oliebollentocht – Record Number of Velomobiles

Oliebollentocht Logo157 velomobiles participated in the 2012 Oliebollentocht, upping the record from 149 in 2011.  The day was clear and relatively warm for the time of year, which made for some good photography, and photos and videos from riders and others, are now appearing online.  Several are linked to from the Ligfiets page.

The ride commenced in Zwolle and, after counting for the record, the velomobiles left in groups of about 50.  Looking at the videos it is fair to say that the Quest and Strada velomobiles represented the largest group.  However there is a surprisingly large selection of machines to be seen, these included: Flevobike Orca/Versatile; various iterations of Alligt and Flevo Alleweders; WAW; Milan; a couple of Go-One Evo Ks; Velayo; and even a Leiba Classic.  The following video takes you on a wander round the parked velomobiles assembling for the ride.  The Duo Quest with a trailer also participated and is featured early in the video.  It is clear from what is shown, that at least three children could be transported in this way, though I read a report on the Strada 112 A blog that there were four children carried!

The following video also takes you around the assembling velomobiles but also includes some of the ride itself with a mixture of cockpit views and stills which all help to give a flavour of the day.

The next video is quite long at 24 minutes, but features an extensive cockpit eye view taken from a Quest equipped with a carbon race-cap.  The view is not all from the cockpit as the rider gets out several times including after rolling onto the ferry at Genemuiden.  It is amusing to see the small ferry overwhelmed by the number of velomobiles all trying to cross at the same time.  I believe Andre Vrielink can be seen on the ferry with a similar, if not the same, Orca that I test-rode last September.

The following is a much shorter video but with rather flashy production including quite a number of shots in fast-play, which create their own effect and impression.

To conclude there follows a compilation of well-shot video of one group en-route and obviously enjoying themselves.  David Hembrow of A View From the Cycle Path is featured smiling at the camera as he passes in his Mango.

Velomobile News from Holland

A couple of news items from Holland.

Sinner to Cease Recumbent Bike Production?

According to Sinner is to stop producing the Demon and Spirit recumbent bikes, instead concentrating their efforts on the Comfort delta trike and the Mango velomobile.  A quick review of the Sinner website turned up no information but Ligtfiets advise that existing stock of the Spirit and Demon will continue to be sold.

Mark 2 Sunrider is to be made available as a kit and branded the Alligt A9

Alligt have a photo of the new Sunrider body with the different elements highlighted in one of the three standard body colours.  There is a caveat that the actual shade of yellow will be slightly different from that shown, but it gives a nice idea of how the finished machine is assembled.  The most obvious changes are the the rear of the body with a squarer ending reminiscent of the Versatile/Orca but there are quite a number of other more subtle changes to the body which should improve water-tightness and sound.

Alligt A9 body in colourWhat is not visible here are the substantial sub-frame and numerous standard Alligt components that have been incorporated into the design.

The particularly interesting news is that the Sunrider will be available as a self build kit along side the A4, A6, A7 and A8.  Not too surprisingly the kit will be sold as the A9.

Prices in Euros are available via the Alligt website but to summarise, depending on options: the A9 kit will range from 4,195 to 7,395; and a completed Sunrider ranges from 6,595 to 8,895.  A “Moped” class Sunrider is also available suitable for type-approval in Germany for 10,595.Photo of mark 2 Sunrider prototype


The velomobile: neither bicycle nor car

Kris De Decker of Low-Tech Magazine kindly allowed me to republish an article from 2010 – The velomobile: high-tech bike or low-tech car?  It gives and an excellent, but slightly dated, overview of the velomobile with a somewhat American flavour.  As such the opinions expressed, especially those in the conclusion, are those of the original author.  It is none-the-less well worth reading.  Here it is largely unedited.


Picture: the Versatile.

Recumbent bikes with bodywork evoke a curious effect. They look as fast as a racing car or a jet fighter, but of course, they’re not.

Nevertheless, thanks to the recumbent position, the minimal weight and the outstanding aerodynamics, pedalling a “velomobile” requires three to four times less energy than pedalling a normal bicycle.

This higher energy efficiency can be converted felt in terms of comfort, but can also be utilised to attain higher speeds and longer distances – regular cyclists can easily maintain a cruising speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) or more. The velomobile thus becomes an excellent alternative to the automobile for medium distances, especially in bad weather.

Basically, a velomobile is a recumbent bike with the addition of a bodywork. Recumbent bikes are considered a bit weird, but they have some interesting advantages over normal bicycles. For example, a recumbent bike has no saddle but a comfortable seat with back support, so that you sit or lie more comfortably and can keep pedalling for longer. Because of their superior aerodynamic capabilities, pedalling on a recumbent takes less effort, allowing you to travel more quickly and further than on a normal bicycle. Recumbent bikes can have two, three or four wheels. Trikes (3 wheels) and quads (4 wheels) offer the additional benefit of stability.


Picture: the Scorpion.

A velomobile – almost always a trike – offers two extra advantages over normal recumbent tricycles. The bodywork protects the rider (and mechanical parts) from the weather, so that the vehicle can be used in any season or climate. Furthermore, the aerodynamic shape of the bodywork further improves the efficiency of the vehicle, with spectacular results.

Velomobile versus bicycle

From the table below (source.pdf) one can observe that the power output required to achieve a speed of 30 kilometres per hour (18.6 mph) in a state-of-the-art velomobile (the Quest) is only 79 watts, compared to 271 watts on a normal bicycle and 444 watts on a neglected bicycle. Pedalling at a speed of 30 km/h thus requires 3.5 times less energy with a velomobile than with a normal bicycle. Going flat out (a power output of 250 watts) gives you a speed of 29 km/h (18 mph) on a normal bicycle and 50 km/h (31 mph) on a velomobile.

Speed compàrison bikes

Source: “The velomobile as a vehicle for more sustainable transportation” (pdf).

NASA rates the average long-term power output for a male adult at 75 watts, while fit individuals might easily sustain more than 100 watts for several hours, from 200 to 300 watts for one hour, and between 300 and 400 watts for at least 10 minutes. Lance Armstrong is said to have averaged between 475 and 500 watts for 38 minutes during an uphill climb in the 2001 Tour de France. (Source: The human powered home).

If you normally commute by bicycle, you can do two things with a velomobile: Retain the same speed as you normally do, but use 3.5 times less energy, or arrive at your destination twice as quickly with the same effort. This high efficiency greatly enlarges the range of a pedal powered vehicle. The bicycle is generally being viewed as a transport means for short distances, mostly below 5 kilometres or 3 miles (= cycling 15 minutes at a speed of 20km/h or 12.4 mph). However, the average distance of a car trip in Europe and in the US amounts to between 13 and 15 kilometres (8 and 9.3 miles).

Sinner mango red

Picture: the Sinner Mango Red Edition.

A velomobile reaches a constant cruising speed of 35 km/h (21.7 mph) with the same energy output, so that the distance covered in 15 minutes becomes 9 kilometres (5.5 miles) instead of 5 kilometres (3 miles). At a speed of 45 km/h (not unusual for a regular cyclist) the distance covered in 15 minutes becomes more than 11 kilometres (6.8 miles). Thus, twenty minutes of pedalling on a velomobile sufficiently covers an average automobile trip. The velomobile could replace a substantial portion of car miles, especially because the vehicles also protect their occupants from wind, rain and cold.


Picture: the Quest.

By definition, velomobiles are built for speed. The bodywork offers a distinct advantage at higher speeds, starting at 20 to 25 km/h (12.4 to 15.5 mph). Above those speeds, almost all energy produced by a cyclist is channelled toward combating air resistance. Because of the upright position, the aerodynamics of a cyclist on a normal bicycle are disappointing. A velomobile, on the other hand, suffers less air resistance than even the most aerodynamic sports car.

At lower speeds, however, the relatively heavy (25 to 40 kilograms) velomobile becomes a disadvantage. It accelerates slower than a normal bicycle, and has considerably more difficulty climbing a hill. An electric assist motor can solve this problem in hilly regions. The motor can help the velomobile climb, while energy can be recovered from the brakes during the descent. Of course, an electric assist can also be considered on flat terrain, an option that is gaining a lot of popularity these days.


Picture: the Leiba x-stream.

By definition, the velomobile is essentially built for longer distances. For shorter city trips the traditional bicycle is unbeatable. It accelerates faster, it is more manoeuvrable, and it is very easy to hop on and off.

Velomobile versus electric car

Dries Callebaut and Brecht Vandeputte, the Belgian designers of the WAW-velomobile, calculated how the efficiency of a velomobile relates to the efficiency of an electric automobile (using their own data and this source). During an eco-marathon earlier this year they equipped their velomobile with an electric motor, a complete substitution for pedal power. This is not really what the vehicle is intended for, but the advantage of the experiment is that it allows for an unequivocal comparison.

The energy consumption of the WAW was measured at 0.7 kWh per 100 kms (62 miles). This makes the velomobile in excess of 20 times more efficient than electric cars currently on the market. For example, the Nissan Leaf requires 15 kWh per 100 kms. The enormous difference is of course due to the enormous difference in weight. Without the battery, the Nissan weighs just over a ton, while the WAW weighs less than 30 kgs.

Versatile zijkant

Picture: the Versatile.

For a human powered velomobile the comparison is a bit more complicated and open to interpretation, because a human does not run (primarily) on electricity, but on biomass. The efficiency of a human powered velomobile thus depends on what the cyclist eats (the efficiency of an electric car also depends on how the electricity is generated). Callebaut and Vandeputte set the primary energy use to 0.6 kWh/100 km for a vegetarian diet from your own garden, to 2.4 kWh per 100 km for the average diet of the western non-vegetarian.


Picture: the Versatile.

A human powered velomobile is thus 15 to 62 times more energy efficient than a Nissan Leaf. Not just 6 to 25 times, because we are comparing primary energy here. The 15 kWh that is consumed by the Nissan equates to around 37.5 kWh primary energy since electricity plants (in Europe) have an efficiency of 40 percent.

You can also argue that burning fat is a positive thing regardless of where food comes from, since obesity and a lack of exercise are endemic throughout the western world. The energy that is now being wasted in fitness centres, or the fat that is hanging in front of the television, could be put to good use as an oil substitute in transportation. In this view, the velomobile consumes (just as the cyclist and the pedestrian) 0,00 kWh per 100 kilometres.


The origins of the velomobile can be traced back to the beginnings of the twentieth century, but the modern, streamlined velomobile only appeared in the 1980s. The first commercially available velomobile was the Danish Leitra. In 1993, the Dutch Alleweder appeared on the market. About 500 of them were were sold in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany throughout the 1990s.

Alleweder 5

Picture: the Alleweder.

The Alleweder introduced an important technological innovation: the self-supporting, monocoque coach work, similar in construction to that of a car – though much lighter. This gave the velomobile a sturdier construction without weighing it down. The suspension system introduced by the Alleweder was also inspired by automobiles. The bodywork of the original Alleweder is made from aluminum plates riveted together, a technique inspired by airplane builders.

With or without a roof

All velomobiles produced since then are based on the construction principles of the Alleweder. The only difference is that the bodywork no longer consists of aluminum but is made up of composites (like Kevlar). These materials are more expensive, but offer more freedom in designing the fairing, allowing for better aerodynamics.

Go one 3

Picture: the Go One 3.

A modern velomobile weighs between 24 and 40 kilograms, is about 250 centimetres long, 80 centimetres wide and 95 centimetres high. The three wheels have suspension and the bodywork has integrated rear view mirrors, head lights, indicators and (sometimes) brake lights. A velomobile also has a luggage compartment comparable to that of a sports car.

The present-day velomobile comes in two varieties: vehicles in which the head of the driver sticks out (like the Quest, the WAW, the Versatile, the Mango, the Velayo, and the Alleweder) and vehicles in which the driver is fully enclosed (like the Go-One, the Leiba, the Leitra, the Pannonrider and the Cab-Bike). In the case of a fully enclosed vehicle, part of the bodywork can be opened to get in and out. In a half-open velomobile, the driver enters and leaves via the hole where the head sticks through.

Velomobiles can have open or closed wheel arches. Closed wheel arches give better aerodynamics but they make the turning cycle larger and hamper the changing of a tyre.


Picture: the Pannonrider (picture credit) has solar panels on the bodywork (wind power is another option!).

Fully enclosed velomobiles give the best protection against bad weather, of course, but they do carry a few disadvantages. The main problem has to do with ventilation. Even in cold weather, the driver may “overheat”. A body that delivers 200 watts, produces around 1000 watts of waste heat, which mostly escapes via the head. In a fully enclosed velomobile hearing and sight are also affected. The windshield can steam up or it can become opaque because of rain or snow (windscreen wipers are not an option on any velomobile, probably because of the extra weight that would be added by motor and battery).


Picture: the Velayo.

A fully enclosed velomobile thus needs an efficient natural ventilation system (which can happen via air intake in the nose of the vehicle). Some manufacturers have come up with a compromise. The WAW has a small optional roof with a ventilation system that can be manipulated from the inside of the vehicle. It can be quickly installed and it fits in the trunk when folded up. The Versatile also has a smart roof, bypassing the heat and ventilation problem while still protecting the rider from the rain.


Picture: the Hase Klimax.

The German manufacturer Hase recently presented a recumbent tricycle with a foldable fairing (and an electric assist motor). This is not a compromise between a fully or a semi-enclosed velomobile but between the latter and a normal recumbent trike – the most comfortable and aerodynamic option in warm weather.


Recently, some two-seater velomobiles have appeared, such as the Bakmobiel (a cargo bike) and the DuoQuest. The essential idea is that occupants sit next to each other. It’s good to see that cosiness still beats aerodynamics.


Another recent trend are velomobiles that have been especially designed to easily hop in and out of. The adapted design lowers weather protection and aerodynamics, but the result is still a more efficient bicycle at higher speeds, which comes in handy for shorter distances.

Are velomobiles too expensive?

The high purchase price is often mentioned as one of the largest obstacles for a breakthrough of the velomobile in the mainstream market. A fully equipped machine will cost you at least 5,000 euro (6,700 dollar) – considerably more than what you pay for a good quality bicycle. In the US prices have come down from a level twice as high, since now some of the popular Northern European brands are also produced in the States. Shipping a velomobile across the Atlantic is not cheap.


Picture: the Quest.

The high price stems partly from the surcharge of a recumbent, but mainly from bodywork. Each velomobile is hand-crafted, with the fairing requiring the most work. It would of course be cheaper to produce velomobiles on an assembly line, especially when this would happen in a low-wage country. But even then – including social exploitation and extra environmental costs – nobody expects to see a velomobile sold for less than half the current price. Lightweight materials, crucial to make the technology work, just happen to be expensive.


Picture: the Quest.

You can look at it differently, of course. A velomobile is more expensive than a bicycle, but it is cheaper than an automobile. Since the performance and the comfort are also in between that of a car and a bicycle, the price starts to look more reasonable. Moreover, a car requires fuel, and a velomobile doesn’t. Maintenance is limited to changing the tyres. Whoever changes his or her automobile for a velomobile is definitely making a economical decision. Governments could help overcome the purchase price by financially supporting velomobiles instead of electric cars and biofuels – at least their ecological gain is clear and they don’t need a completely new charging infrastructure.

Alternative to the automobile?

The most important obstacle for the velomobile is not the purchase price. It is the competition of the automobile. Although a velomobile can ride on a wide enough bicycle path, because of its larger dimension and higher speeds the vehicle is more suited for the road. The concept of the velomobile is sound as long as the vehicle does not have to share the road with automobiles. On current roads, piloting a velomobile would be relatively dangerous. Car drivers don’t always see you, and in spite of the many strengthenings in the bodywork you are very vulnerable against, say, a Jeep Cherokee.

Alleweder a6

Picture: the Alleweder.

A breakthrough in the velomobile thus requires either a completely new infrastructure for pedal power, or the substitution of velomobiles (and other human powered vehicles) for automobiles on the existing local and regional road system. The latter option, which I prefer, would not be conducive to car sales, but there is nothing or nobody that stops car manufacturers from producing velomobiles.

© Kris De Decker (edited by Shameez Joubert)

SPEZI 2012

For the first time I and a Dutch relative had the opportunity to attend the 17th International Special Bikes Show – Die Spezialradmesse or SPEZI for short. We left Holland early Saturday morning, traveling through lower Germany in pouring rain until we crossed the river Ahr near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. At this point we were climbing through rolling hills on the West side of the Rhine. As we climbed the weather became drier. Then we encountered the Moselle. Here it passes through a spectacular gorge near Koblenz the main road passing over it on a high bridge with a spectacular view. By this point the road had climbed quite high and we began to travel over a rolling plateau in glorious sunshine, typical of many SPEZI photos from previous occasions.

Entrance to SPEZI Hall 1

Entrance to SPEZI Halle 1

We arrived in Germersheimshortly after 10:00 and already the area around and inside the venues was busy with attendees. We registered and received our armbands and a glossy show magazine together with a map and exhibitor list. Although this was the first time at SPEZI, and therefore there was no past to compare to, the event appeared to be very well attended, with a large number of exhibitors.

Mango Velomobile Outside Hall 1

Mango Velomobile Outside Hall 1

Exhibition space comprised: three indoor halls; a large outdoor enclosure; two test tracks; plus numerous corners where a mixture of official and unofficial exhibitors, owners and homebuilders had items on display. The town of Germersheim also takes SPEZI quite seriously with several streets between the various venues closed to traffic and the town bus station given over for use as one of the test tracks.

As one would expect from reports of previous occasions, there was a large selection of interesting specialist cycling products on display. However our purpose in attending was to get to know some of the velomobile manufacturers and to see and get some hands-on experience with at least some of the velomobiles on show. No matter how much study one might make of written, pictorial or video reports, there is nothing quite like being able to touch, walk round and get inside these vehicles.

While exhibitors had come from many parts including the UK, the show, being in Germany, is German dominated. This was apparent in the selection of products as these were mainly German and Dutch made models or were being presented by German speaking resellers. Most of the Velomobile Exhibitors had an outside presence; where there was a greater opportunity to sit inside various models and, in some cases, take a test ride.

Collection of Alleweders

Collection of Alligt and Akkurad Alleweders

Our first encounter in the outdoor enclosure was with Carbon Recumbentsfrom Hungary. As their name suggests they manufacture recumbents from Carbon Fibre and were exhibiting a nice collection of these together with a

Carbon Recumbents HPV

Carbon Recumbents’ HPV

large velomobile that they referred to simply as a HPV. They were evidently very keen to spread the word about their products and are actively looking for distributers in several countries. This velomobile was new to us and while it was only available as a static exhibit, sitting inside gave one a good sense of its potential. It is large giving it quite some road presence and has some ingenious rotating doors allowing access from either side. The front canopy was very open giving the rider good visibility.

Carbon Recumbents HPV Cockpit

Carbon Recumbents HPV Cockpit

At the time of writing there was very little detail about their velomobile on their website but it is available with an optional electric assist.

A few stands over we found Alligt, the Dutch manufacture of the Alleweder family of velomobiles, where they were exhibiting a comprehensive range of their products. Alleweder Models A4, A6, and A7 were available and kept busy with test rides. Of particular interest were a couple of examples of the new prototype A8 reported on by Bent Blogearlier this year.

Alleweder A8 Prototype

Alleweder A8 Prototype

Part built A8 Prototype

Part built Alleweder A8 Prototype

Alligt Sunrider insides

Alligt Sunrider insides

Also on display was the Sunrider velomobile, which has undergone a redesign incorporating many parts from the Alleweder and a simpler build method, and is now being built by Alligt.

Alligt’s partner, and the German builder of the Alleweder along with an electric cycle assist system, Akkurad (Lohmeyer Leichtfahrzeuge) had a stand indoors but several of their products were being demonstrated by Alligt outside.

Alligt Sunrider Velomobile

Alligt Sunrider

I had a brief opportunity to talk with Leo Visscher, who spoke about his thoughts toward producing a four-wheel velomobile. His particular interest seemed to be in the stability of a four wheeled vehicle as shown in the Moose or Elk Test and having a practical confirmation in Miles Kingsbury’s observations of the performance of his four wheeled Quatro velomobile during the ROAM last year.

Orca Velomobile

Flevobike Orca

Further round the enclosure Flevobike had a large stand and were exhibiting both their Green Machine recumbent and their Orca velomobile. They had three of these, two on static display and one available for test rides. There was a lot of interest from attendees and it was frustrating that the high demand meant I was only able to experience the inside of one of the static Orcas. This was compounded by what appeared to be a disappointingly poor forward and side visibility, which I found quite restricted when compared to other designs I sampled. That being said the styling is striking and at least for myself very aesthetically pleasing and in terms of product quality the finish both inside and out has to be among the best. The standard is approaching that you would expect to find in a mass produced vehicle such as a car. My negative impression may well have been influenced by the particular Orca not being adjusted for my size and it would have been helpful to experience just how limiting the visibility was, if at all, when riding.

The final manufacturer we were able to engage outdoors was Gessthe German producer of the Leiba family of velomobiles. Gess, like many producers, is a small family firm and despite limited English, and my even more limited German, the owner and his family did their best to be helpful.

Leiba X-Stream Velomobile

Leiba X-Stream with mounted head fairing

I was able to sample both an X-Stream and test ride a Classic. Here the experience was very positive. The X-Stream both with and without the faired head cover gave excellent visibility and the controls and seating felt very natural. I was not able to test ride the Classic till later in the day as the Leiba supplied model was taking part in a practical transport competition along side a number of other velomobiles and contraptions including a modified “stretched” Leiba Classic produced by Elmar Maierwith a child seat behind the rider. I would like to see Leiba take the hint and offer a similar design as part of their regular offerings.

Original and modified Leiba Classics

Original and modified Leiba Classics

Elmar was also displaying an original design, el Loco, with a high degree of styling and a built in sound system!

el Loco Velomobile

el Loco – Das Ding

The first impression after sitting down inside the Classic and latching the canopy closed and riding out toward the street was, “Wow! I feel fat!” In the few minutes that I was able to spend riding around the streets the Classic grew on me. I got used to the spacious interior and despite being enclosed on a very hot day (in UK terms) I found the inside to be well ventilated and cool. Rider Access also was excellent due to the forward opening fairing. The visibility is not as good as the X-Stream, which should be expected, but for my ride I found it quite adequate. My eye-level was on par with that of a typical sports car driver and, though there was next to no motorized traffic on the streets I used, I would feel quite comfortable at the prospect of using one in urban traffic. The only reservations would be a desire to test each velomobile more extensively in real world conditions, particularly the cold and the wet.

Velayos coming and going

Velayos coming and going

The final exhibitor we saw in the outdoor enclosure was Fortschritt Fahrzeugbaumakers of the front wheel drive rear wheel steering Velayo velomobile. They had a couple of Velayos and again they were kept busy giving test rides to others which prevented us from getting any hands on experience for ourselves. None-the-less I saw and heard them pass on the streets several times and had on opportunity toward the end of the day to make an external inspection. One was impressed by the bulk and low rumble as they passed and despite the unconventional configuration, even as velomobiles go, there was evidently a lot of interest.

Velayo and Go-One Evolution Velomobiles

Velayo and Go-One Evolution

When I photographed the Velayo I inspected, I also included a Go-One Evolution that was parked up alongside. It was unclear whether this was just a private owner’s vehicle or whether Fortschritt Fahrzeugbau were exhibiting the Go-One on behalf of the manufacturer Beyss Leichtfahrzeuge.

Veltop mounted on a recumbent trike

Veltop mounted on a recumbent

For those looking for elements of the velomobile experience while still using a regular bike or recumbent, there were also several vendors offering fairing solutions and french manufacturer Veltop had installed examples of their weather protection system.

Of the remaining velomobile exhibitors only Sinner and Raederwerkwere limited to indoor exhibition space but examples of their Mango and Milan velomobiles were parked up in various places outside giving ample opportunity for inspection.

Milan Velomobile

Milan Velomobile

Hase Bikesalso had an indoor stand where they were exhibiting their Klimax all weather delta trike. It was a disappointment that the indoor space was so limited and busy with other interested potential velomobilists that we did not get the opportunity we would have liked to talk with the exhibitors.

Hase Klimax

Hase Klimax

One significant omission on our part was Bike-Revolution, who had both an indoor and out door stand. Regrettably we were not aware they were representing Leitra, along with their own related offerings, the Interceptor , Thunderstorm, Leitra Avancee, till after the event. This is an omission we will try to avoid, if at all possible, next year.

Present in an unofficial capacity were Jouta, the Dutch manufacturer of an interesting: rear wheel steering, front wheel drive, leaning, recumbent trike for which they make a striking fairing. They had an example on display with rear-mounted panniers for luggage in a similar style to the original Go-One velomobile.

Jouta Velomobile

Jouta Velomobile

Jouta Front Wheel Drive trike

Jouta Front Wheel Drive Trike

Their website, only available in Dutch and currently undergoing a rebuild, claims that the fairing is also suitable for mounting to other trikes. While I was not able to test the trike with the fairing I was able to test ride a bare trike and despite the negative reputation of rear wheel steering I found the ride quite stable over the speeds I achieved and under the pedal loads I applied. I found the ride unusual but satisfactory and very enjoyable.

After the exhibition spaces there were the two test tracks. We did not have time to sample the electric test track; instead I went along to the bus station where the merely human powered vehicles were available.

SPEZI test track

SPEZI test track before the le Mans start

The tracks are sponsored by several of the biggest exhibitors as an opportunity to try before making a buying decision. As such there were machines provided by the likes of HP Velotechnik, Hase, AZUB, Toxy, Anthrotech, among others, but no velomobiles. Each tryout session was limited to 25 minutes and to gain entry you had to register and leave some photo ID in return for a coloured badge. At the end of the previous session the testers left the enclosure and were replaced by those who had the current badge. I took the opportunity to try out several of the offerings. While there were no actual velomobiles the time was not wasted as there are options to add fairings to existing trike and bike models and the Hase Klimax is based on the Kettwiesel delta trike.

Hase Klimax rear view

Hase Klimax

I have ridden both recumbent bikes and tadpole trikes before but this was my first time on a delta. It was a good experience and I was able to appreciate the potential of this configuration. Given the limited speed allowed and surface available the Kettwiesel handled very well and was a pleasure to ride. Based on that assessment I would say, that for those looking for the cabriolet velomobile experience, the Hase Klimax is certainly worth a closer look.

Looking back at the day one might contrast the value of the visit to in Dronten with our trip to SPEZI the following day. The test experience, attention and interaction with the builder was far more in depth with the manufacturer visit whereas at SPEZI one was competing with numerous other attendees and one could sense the strain some of the exhibitors were under as they struggled to cope with the multi-lingual requests for information. That being said, while you don’t get as much time, you cannot beat SPEZI for the opportunity to sample so many different models within walking distance of each other. If nothing else: the mental stimulation of seeing so many innovative products; the memories of the smiling faces on the test track; and the experience of something different, make the euro 9.50 entrance fee excellent value for a day out.

In conclusion, like all engineering, each velomobile is a set of tradeoffs to obtain a particular solution. There is not necessarily one right answer or perfect velomobile and all the different designs are not necessarily in direct competition with one-another. What works well for one rider in one place may be quite unsuitable for another, who is say, a different size, or in a different environment. The importance must be stressed of gaining experience for one’s self with several designs and correctly identifying your own needs and priorities.

Finally I would like to express my own thanks not only in general to those who run SPEZI but also personally to all my family and friends who helped to make this trip possible.

A Question

A Question

A Piece of your Transport Portfolio

This has to be one of the most professional videos explaining the velomobile concept. It features the Sinner Mango velomobile but it should be obvious that the same principals apply to any other comparable design. Production is by Stephen at undercover cycling. The view is from an American perspective but if it can be done in the land of the Automobile it can be done anywhere.


A note about the price mentioned in the video, the number he quotes is for shipping and importing a quality European built velomobile into the US! For those living in Europe the cost is much less. For those living in the US there are US manufactured velomobiles which remove the costs associated with importing.