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.


Carbon Rotovelo

rotovelo-carbon-sideTrisled have brought out a new variant of the Rotovelo, their robust budget priced velomobile.  The Rotovelo Carbon is, as it’s name suggests, is made in the same shape as the original Rotovelo but with a body of carbon fibre instead of the original roto-molded HDPE.  We briefly mentioned the body material advantage of the original design in a post regarding the sale of the machine reviewed by Velovision Magazine (Issue 41 Jun 2011).

What was not mentioned was the bare-bones spec, which includes no installed suspension system and simple cruciform frame, since the body is not sufficiently capable of carrying load.  The specification is justified as part of a design whose objective is robust simplicity and low cost.  That this bare-bones spec has been translated directly to a machine with a costly and relatively fragile body has raised a lot of comment and questions along the lines of, “what are they thinking!?”

The following short video by Trisled illustrates the Rotovelo Carbon in action.

A typical velomobile can be expected to weight upward of 30 kg with the sporty machines weighing in the mid 20s.  Perhaps the lightest of these is the Go-one Evo-Ks at 21.5 kg for the bare model.  What Trisled have achieved with the Rotovelo Carbon is a low weight – obviously depending on component choice, as low as 19.5 kg (the same weight as my Claude Butler run-about bike!)  Given the attractive weight there are some saying, if the Rotovelo Carbon came with suspension they would have one, and it is claimed to be the most asked for feature for the original Rotovelo, so what gives?

Firstly there is a weight saving by excluding active suspension, so the record low would not be possible otherwise.  Secondly there is a helpful and fairly extensive rider report on the Rotovelo on the Bentrider Online forum by mikeatlbch which gives a more balanced perspective and argues that for most practical cases active suspension is not needed.  One thing he highlights from his own experience is the passive suspension provided by the Rotovelo frame.  While he still prefers the HDPE body for its ability to take the knocks he appreciates the value low weight would offer in a stop-and-go urban environment where ease of acceleration and therefore low weight is important.

So while the armchair velonaut, accustomed to ever increasing technical complexity, may be puzzled: what Trisled have produced is, from their perspective, a logical compromise; satisfied with the ride performance of the original Rotovelo, they have traded a robust body for easier acceleration.  It remains to be seen whether there are buyers who agree with them.

Battle Mountain – Final Day

World Human Powered Speed Championships 2012 PosterThe 2012 World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain comes to a close today.   Official results are tabulated here with breaking news from the blog of one of the offical timers.  There have been no records broken as yet, but a new record has been set.

As well as the high profile withdrawal, for this year at least, of Graeme Obree, Sam Whittingham has also decided to give this year a miss.  After defending and advancing his record for 12 years, he has decided that 13 would be 1 year too many.  None-the-less there has been a full field with teams from all over, but have been beset with technical and weather problems, with a number of crashes and “illegal” winds.

The team from Trisled in Australia, brought two machines, a bike (Nitro Glycerine) and a trike (Completely Overzealous).  Though Trisled are competing at Battle Mountain for the first time their have already honed their skills to a high level in the well developed Australian human powered racing scene.  Conventional wisdom has gone the route of dropping the third wheel to save rolling resistance anf hopefully also reduce cross-section.  It has no doubt come as a supprise therefore to many that Trisled’s trike powered by Gareth Hanks has bested 70 mph to set a record for three wheels of 71.79 mph.  This achievement has been recognised by the IHPVA who have upgraded the rules to recognise fully faired three wheels, as a separate class.  Well-done to the Trisled team for showing that there is still life in the conventional velomobile format!Photo of Completely Overzealous

The Dutch team from Delft with VeloX2 have not yet broken the record but are edging closer.  Jan Bos is now the third fastest human.

More next week once the dust has settled.

Photo of Completely Overzealousphoto of Nitro GlycerineWith thanks to Jun Nog for the photo’s from her blog.  The secret to Trisled’s succuess (beside their musceles)? – Wax!

Velomobile for sale in the UK

Ben Cooper of Kinetics in Glasgow is advertising the sale of a velomobile, a green Rotovelo.  Those who were at SPEZI in 2011 will recognise this as the velomobile Trisled brought over which subsequently went with Peter Eland to York for a review in Velovision Magazine. I saw the machine myself at the 2011 York CTC Cycle Show before it was then sold on to a purchaser in Scotland.

The Rotovelo received a lot of attention at it’s launch in 2011, both because of the novel (at least in velomobile terms) construction method, and the realistic potential of this construction method to significantly reduce the cost of a velomobile.  Rather than using the time-consuming method of laying up a glass or carbon fibre body, the Rotovelo uses the same rotating moulding method used to form a kayak.  This is both cheaper, quicker and more easily scaled to support large production volumes.  Unfortunately, as Peter in the Velovision Review (Issue 41 Jun 2011) highlighted, while the production cost in Australia is low, once you added shipping and European import duties the cost was comparable to a much better equipped European built machine.

Photo of a Rotovelo outside Kinetics in Glasgow

Seen here outside Kinetics in Glasgow, upgraded with a Rolhof hub, and asking for offers around £3,500 it certainly looks like a good deal.