Velomobile. That sure sounds like something that’s cutting edge or fast doesn’t it? Just the word “velo” sounds kinda mysterious or maybe even space age. Velocity. It seems the word Velomobile is actually made up of two words. The first would seem to be velocity, for fast, rapid or speedy. The second is more obvious which is mobile. A speedy, fast, rapid mobile bike or trike in this case.
Recumbent tadpole trikes, with the two wheels in front and one in the back, come in many different flavors. It can still be recumbent even if the two wheels are traditionally in back, referred to as the “delta” style. But boy, you would never mistake either for the one commonly called the “adult” trike.
The tadpole design offers the best in a recumbent style and stability. There are the “delta” style owners who might give hearty debate to that. If numbers are any indicator, the tadpole has the vote. The beauty is, as always, to each their own!
Speedy! Fast? Do you think of a trike as fast or speedy? No, I wouldn’t either. But would you believe 30 to 40 MPH as a potential cruising speed? Right! And the Sphinx is going to fly too! Well, you are about to enter the world of Velomobiles.
Here’s my favorite. The AERORIDER made in the Netherlands utilizes a “unibody” type construction.
It is the tadpole design being used for the Velomobile. Even so, there are a few designs that actually use the body of the Velomobilesuch as the Aerorider seen above, for the frame of the Velomobile. This would be like the unibody concept used in the auto industry.
Instead of building a separate frame, then adding the body, the body (or sub-frame) IS the frame. This reduces the overall weight. Even though the Aerorider weighs in at over 130 pounds, that includes an onboard electric assist motor for hilly areas.
Check out the Flevobike from the Netherlands. Is this sleek or what?
Europe can take the credit for the first recumbent bike, and very possibly the first recumbent trikes. The first Velomobiles made for retail that have been successful have definitely come from Europe too. They are currently made in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, and there are about 15 or so located in the U.S.
The big state of Texas may be the first to actually start production of a prototype Alleweder. David Eggleston of Midland, Texas, is currently the proud owner of an Alleweder, and the rights to build the Flevobike Alleweder in the U.S. So we may soon begin to see a few more showing up in unexpected places. Check out David’s site at Pedalyourselfhealthy.org.
Wanna see some more of these Velomobiles? Check out the Berkut from USSR.
Here is the Alleweder currently made in Germany.
These incredible vehicles give you lights and turn signals, storage space to carry some luggage, and excellent speed for short commutes. The Go-One, Leitra, and Aerorider even give you a canopy with windshield wipers and vents to avoid fogging. There are disc brakes, various transmissions that can be used as well as fenders or wheel fairings.
Does this have a “classy chasis” or what! Check out the Go-One, another from Germany.
Some even have removable side windows and tops for riding in hot weather or to enjoy a cool, sunny day. All have been built using lightweight bodies with wheel suspension and usually cage reinforcement for impact protection. Most have some type of electric assist that can be used for steep assents or just to help maintain a good comfortable cruising speed.
Look at this group of Leitras out for a weekend tour. Made in Denmark.
Most of the designs are sleek and very aerodynamic. When you think about the money that can be saved by commuting and doing it in such a healthy style, it’s hard to see a downside.
The price is well worth it at around $5000-6000 landed in the U.S. Savings on your auto insurance, fuel, repairs, and monthly payments can easily repay the investment in less than 1 year for most these days.
With monthly payments of $300 for the car, $1400 a year for insurance, and $1000 for fuel, you do the math! Add to that the value of good exercise that you may not be getting now. Your food bill may increase to keep the “engine” fueled up, but the increase won’t be near what you’ll save on gas alone.
True, these are usually for 5 to 10 mile commutes. How many of us only go such a short distance these days? But hey, would you be likely to commute to work in one of these? What a way to GO!