Thursday, May 12, 2016

Early May update

Early May update
Finally the weather is getting warmer, we have not had much rain either over the past couple of weeks but that could easily change.  I am very busy at the moment so I’m not posting as often.  Last week I rode in a 200km brevet, it was not my best result mostly because my friend’s Quest had rear wheel problems as we had to stop several times to try to fix the problem.  He had disassembled the rear swingarm and may have made a mistake when reassembling. 

I also had an issue accessing my smallest gear, there was one significant hill with a 14% incline and I would have appreciated accessing that gear.  While a bit slower, I was still able to climb the hill but with a bit more difficulty.  I performed a bit of maintenance to solve this issue and I can now access all gears. 

For those of you who have had problems adjusting for the Praxix 11-40 cassette or similar, I have come to the conclusion that chain length can be an issue but removing links may not address this.  To “fine tune” the chain length, you need to move the crank slightly, just a few millimeters and things will work normally.  In my case, chain stretch appeared to be the issue and by moving the crank about 3mm and everything worked.

I have also had problems with getting wheels that I can use with my new wheel pants so they have been sitting on the shelf.  I just placed an order with Ginko for a set of narrow wheels dished-in that should fit nicely in the wheel pants.  I had ordered a set from Bluevelo but unfortunately Randy was unable to complete the order.  I will have to wait a few more weeks for delivery from Europe.

This weekend I have a 300km brevet with a fair bit more climbing.  The route takes us into a fairly remote area so I need to be self-reliant.  The forecast calls for the possibility of showers, hopefully the weather will be cooperating.


There are a few good reports on SPEZI 2016, in particular Ligfiets and Wim Schermer provided interesting reports on the best things they observed at the show.


ICB was notably absent from Spezi this year, several people have made comments on-line on the situation.  I’m not sure of the reasons but the cost and time required to participate must be justified against increased sales.  In the case of ICB, their current products are fairly well known and they probably had little new products to show except for accessories like the Quest/Strada hood and the wheel pants.

Meanwhile Daniel has been busy building the prototype of the new DF-4 using his familiar Rapid Prototype method.  He started with two DF-XL velomobiles and cut them apart then he modifies the parts/panels to create the desired shape then fills any gap to connect the parts together.  Several people observed that this approach differs from the planned approach used by Allert for the development of the QuattroVelo.   I think that if you have a good idea in your head, you can produce a prototype faster and cheaper using rapid prototyping.

In April ICB delivered 10 velomobiles: 7 DF-XL and 3 DF.  Meanwhile in the same period 2 DF were ordered, the orderbook is getting thin, there were less than 20 velomobiles on order at the end of April.   Maybe the DF-4 will re-energize sales but one may ask if the lack of local sales in North America is affecting the number of velomobile sold.; currently there are no velomobile on order from North American customers.


Velomobiel put two QuattroVelo on display at Spezi.  One of the velomobile had a prototype of the integrated hood.  From 3rd party reports it appears that he booth was very busy.

In April, Velomobiel received 4 orders for velomobiles, all QuattroVelos.  In the same period Velomobiel delivered 5 velomobiles: 2 Carbon Quest; 1 Quest; ! Carbon Quest XS; and 1 Carbon Strada.


Raderwerk had the Milan 4.2 on display at Spezi.  Attendees report that the Milan 4.2 will be available in September.


Katanga presented the new WAW2016 with interchangeable nose and rear cones.  One new feature for the WAW is the use of an air shock on the rear wheel.  The design is certainly different from those of other velomobiles.  Another difference is the use of metal for the mechanical components holding the wheel at the rear.  Metal has advantages because it is easier to work with and costs less but there may be a weight penalty and it may not be as stiff as a composite swingarm.  The WAW’s rear wheel is held on both sides and this should somewhat compensate for the stiffness.  We will wait for reports from riders on these improvements.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

All dressed?

All dressed?
This week I had to take a bit of a rest but it does not mean I was idle.  First I checked the velomobile because I noticed a thump - thumps noise/vibration coming from the rear end during my 200km brevet.  I found the rear wheel was wobbly and needed attention.   It took me a just a few minutes to remove the rear wheel; this is much faster than the first few times I had to do this.  I guess I’m getting better at it now.  I had to get my rear wheel trued at a bike shop since I’m not equipped to do this myself.  My wheel was fixed but the mechanic informed me that the Kojak had also suffered; the cords under the rolling band had been ripped and as a result the tire could not roll smoothly.  I installed a new Gran Prix instead, it will be my first opportunity to test that tire.

I also picked-up at the post office a large package from Dronten, inside I found a pair of pants for the DF as well as tape to hold them in place. Unfortunately I’m currently waiting for a pair of narrow wheels to use with the pants.  The narrow wheels will make it possible to retain a reasonable turning radius.  The Kojak 35-406 are too large to actually fit in the wheel pants so I will also have to install the Schwalbe One to ride with the pants, the roads are slowly improving so probably in another week or two I will be able to test this aerodynamic improvement.

One of the things, I have also done is to install a protector over the lip at the front of the hood just behind the visor.  I felt that the lip could become a danger during a frontal collision as it could easily cut my face should I come in contact.  I visited the local garage and came out with a protector used on machinery to protect the edges of sheet metal parts.  The protector made of metal covered with a thick fabric fits perfectly.  I had also considered getting the protectors used to protect the edge of motorcycle, ATV and snowmobile visors but the one I chose was in my opinion doing a better job in protecting me as it was larger and sturdier.

So with a hat, I mean hood and a pair of pants my DF is almost dressed, maybe what is missing is a cover for the tail?


The new DF-4 development is moving along.  Daniel Fenn is building the new 4-wheel velomobile using the shell of 2 DF as the base.  A picture posted on the German Forum shows two wheel wells at the back of the velomobile with the tail and turtledeck in the middle.  I expect that the wheel well will eventually be inside the shell with a redesigned tail but we have no hint on the final look.  We do know however that Daniel Fenn is taking a different approach for the rear end.  The left wheel will receive all the power from the pedals and the right will receive the power from an optional e-assist motor.  Stay tuned!

Cycle JV

The number 2 Mulsanne velomobile has been unveiled this week.  The latest is already showing some changes to the original design.


Katanga has made changes to the WAW design the improved model is named the WAW2016 and will finally offer a rear suspension as an option.  Since the new rear dropouts are bolted to the shell, it appears that the new rear end could be retrofitted on earlier models.

New rear shocks
I received a message from René Voorhee who informs me that he has been testing a new oil shock built by velomobiel   Apparently the new shock is providing a stiffer ride and reduced the pogoing effect that is characteristically associated with the original shock.  On his Blog he reports on the performance and he appears to be happy with the initial results. Velomobiel is considering the use of the new shock for the QuattroVelo.  This would apparently be in addition to the air suspension to act as a damper like in a car.

Rear shocks in velomobiles have been a weak spot in the design.  No manufacturer has designed an air/oil shock specifically for velomobiles.  Many people have experienced issues with the air/oil adapted to velomobiles.  The Risse shocks have experienced a number of seal failures and as a result they will leak oil or air.  The DT Swiss shock originally used by ICB was discontinued, a replacement was found but still ICB decided to introduce a home made traditional damper instead of an air/oil damper.   

For us in North America the biggest test will be those rumble strips that can send  velomobile flying out of control due the amplification of oscillations caused by the rumble strips.


The annual show is taking place this weekend.  Over the next week or so we will have keep an eye for the latest news as reported by attendees.  While I've seen some tidbits already, I will try to gather more information to report.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

First 200 brevet of the season

First 200 brevet of the season
I know that over the past few weeks I’m not writing as much, in part because I have not found many new items to report and because I am otherwise busy these days.  As I’ve been mentioning several times, we’ve had a very late start for our riding season.  All the snow came between X-Mas and the first week in April.  Just last week it was still snowing but over the past week, things have started to improve. 

Yesterday I rode my first brevet; a 200km ride with 1,700m of climb.  This was one of the first warm days; the temperature at the start of the ride was 3C, it climbed slowly to 16C in the afternoon, the sun was shining and the wind was moderate.  Road conditions were fair to poor which is normal for this time of the year when the ground is soaked and thawing creating bumps, holes and cracks on the pavement.  At times, I felt that I was in a slalom event trying to stay out of the worst patches.

This was my first brevet with the hood.  I was able to ride with my helmet fairly comfortably but having a helmet under the hood makes it much warmer.  I also had a few problems during the ride, nothing major but I will have to address.  There are a few hills in the 9 to 10% range on that ride and I had problems shifting to the low-low so as a result, I had to climb on bigger gears than I would have.  On the last section I could feel a thump-thump from the rear end.  I thought it was a broken spoke but it turns out that the rear wheel is out of alignment and may have a flat spot.  I will have to take it to the bike shop and hopefully they can fix it.

Now I will take a few days rest and get back in the velomobile to get ready for more brevets.

The first Milan MX was recently delivered.  The extra large Milan provides room for the oversized velonaut.
Milan MX (on the right) next to the Milan GT

WHPVC 2016

Ligfiets reported that the racing programme for the coming World Human Powered Vehicle Championships / Cycle Vision has been announced. The most popular races as every year will be the 1 hour time trial. This is considered top event but at the request of the racers the legendary Cycle Vision 6 hour race will return after a 6-year absence.
All the events on the race schedule, will take place on July 2nd and 3rd  of at "Sportpark Sloten, Sloterweg in Amsterdam.
Check out Cycle Vision’s Facebook page for more information.

Allert posted pictures of the new turtle deck that will be covering the luggage compartment.  The previous cover had windows to provide a view for a small passenger on the child seat in the luggage compartment.  I think the cover with window will probably be offered as an option.  A hood to cover the cockpit opening will probably follow.


The 21st edition of the annual show will take place very soon and velomobile manufacturers are getting prepared.  They will show their velomobiles including their latest creations, prototypes and other accessories.  Some attendees will probably have a chance to test some of the products on display.  The show takes place April 23th and 24th in Germersheim, Germany.


For those who like to try new concepts for velomobiles, Suntour offers a little-known enclosed gearbox, which seems to have faired the test of time in a niche of the MTB market. The transmission uses a two-stage transverse system with four saw-tooth clutches, two on the input shaft and two on the output giving a total of nine ratios in the 610% gear range.

The inner workings of the gearbox are greased, instead of a wet sump. Gear change system uses a twin-cable twist shifter and both the cranks and the 22T drive sprocket are specific to the design. An in-depth video of it being dismantled can be seen via

Monday, April 4, 2016

Early April report

Early April report
I’m a bit late to report velomobile production for the month of February.  In fact, I have not posted recently; I guess I’m too busy these days.  I'm posting both March and April production stats.  I was away last week and was able to ride a bit but as I returned home, the temperature got colder well below 0C and we are expecting more snow.  I hope to be ready to ride in my first brevet in less than two weeks.

The hood provides weather protection but I still need to use my heated insoles in my cycling shoes when it is below 0C as my feet are prone to freeze easily in my cycling shoes even inside the covered velomobile.  Let’s hope the weather improves soon!


In February 3 DF XL and 2 DF were delivered and in March there were 11 velomobiles delivered (7 DF and 4 DF-XL).

There were 31 velomobiles on order at the end of February with 17 Df and 14 DF-XL on order. During the same period only 3 velomobiles were ordered and this is probably one of the slowest month since ICB started operations. At the end of March, 27 velomobiles were on order and 7 had been ordered during the month of March.

9 velomobiles were delivered in February at Velomobiel, there were 6 carbon Quest XS, 2 carbon Quest and 1 Carbon Strada.  In March 7 velomobiles were delivered including 4 Stradas, 2 Carbon Quest and a Carbon Quest XS. 

There were 72 velomobiles on order including 35 QuattroVelo and ten velomobiles were sold in February including 2 QuattroVelo while at the end of March, there were 69 velomobiles on order and 11 velomobiles were sold.

More progress to the production of QuattroVelo has been made.  Almost all small molds are ready, only the seat and the luggage hatch hinge are not good enough for production and they need to be changed. Meanwhile, the rest of the molds were sent to Romania to start building a QV.  Production can start only after this second prototype has been fully approved.

If you are a rider of a velomobile, maybe you would like to add a picture of you and your velomobile to the “Riderlist” database.
Email the picture including the type and serial number of your velomobile.  Theo asks for your patience, as it will take a while to upload all these pictures.


Although still in development, owners of ICB hoods (DF, Evo-K and Quest/Strada) as well as Beyss hoods may be interested in Rainpal, a new windshield wiper that clips to the top of the visor.  The concept looks very interesting but we will not know if the final product will meet expectations yet.  The company is currently raising funds through crowd funding to go into production.  Funding this venture will entitle you to a Rainpal and accessories based on the amount contributed.  Basic Rainpal is available for £5 and the luminous white Rainpal with wireless including free delivery globally will cost you £70.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

First velomobile ride of the year

First velomobile ride of the year
On Saturday I drove to the first ride of my cycling club.  It was help some 2 hours away where the snow had mostly melted.  At the start the weather was foggy, windy and the temperature about -1C.  I had the only velomobile and that made some of the others jealous. 

We rode mostly as a group but I would ride ahead and wait.  We stopped for coffee at the mid point and I was the instant attraction in the little town.  For some of the members it was also their first time to see the velomobile and they saw how fast and comfortable it was.

Unfortunately I will need to wait just a while longer to ride some more unless I travel a bit to find safe riding conditions.

It was also my first ride with the new hood.  As this was not a long ride and I did not encounter many different conditions, I can only provide some initial impressions.

What I liked: the ICB hood is roomier, sturdier and less noisy than the Schermer hood on the Quest, the visor was holding in place very well with the bungee clips and was it not shaking.

What could be improved: the field of view is adequate but much more restricted due to the large post where the lens is attached, I have the double Pinlock lens and it further restricts the FOV as only the middle section is double lens.   The ventilation is not as good and the side window was fogged-up most of the time even with the visor partly open.  In the cold and dry conditions the visor did not fog up at all.

Four-wheel velomobiles

My last post on four-wheel velomobiles appears to have been very popular and generated a lot of discussion.  This week one of my readers in Canada sent me a note.  Interested in purchasing a QuattroVelo, he contacted the government authority to ask f a four-wheel bike could be used legally in his province (Quebec).  The answer he received was not what he wanted; “Les bicyclettes à quatre roues ne sont pas autorisées à circuler sur les chemins publics, ni dans les pistes cyclables.” To paraphrase this answer since they are not identified in the regulations, four-wheel bikes are not legal on the road or even on bike paths. 

I cautioned people that they should ensure the new type of velomobile can be operated legally in their area before they order, I think this is a warning to those who order without first inquiring.  Currently, I am not aware of any group making representations to change current laws and this may have an impact on adoption.   I know how long it takes to change regulations so it is serious work and must be done for each jurisdiction.  Is anyone out there willing to take up the challenge?


Daniel Fenn has been working on the new 4-wheel velomobile.  Here is what I gathered so far on the new project. He is using two DF-XL shells that he will modify as the platform of the new velomobile.  Until a new name has been announced, I will refer to this new velomobile as the DF-4.

Already Daniel has shown some pictures of the modification process.  It is similar to the technique he used to create the DF-XL from the shell of a DF.  Already the front wheel wells have been made larger to accommodate larger tires.  Here is what we knw so far on the velomobile specs:

The DF-4 will be an original design that is somewhat unconventional.  First it will have 451 instead of 406 wheels all around which is a significant departure for velomobile designs.  All four wheels will get a 90mm  drum brake.  The velomobile will have a mid drive Rolhoff and a 10-speed short cage derailleur providing 140 gears.  It is not clear yet how the system will be designed and built.

The shell will also be made wider and the wheelbase will also be longer at 105cm. The bike will have a left-chain along the frame, powering the left wheel only the chain will have maximum distance from your leg and torsional forces on the frame is reduced. This eliminates the need for a differential or freewheel thus reducing weight and space requirements.  Provisions are being made to provide a 500W electric assist motor to the right wheel.  The tail of the velomobile will also be flat to enable vertical storage.

It is expected that the development period would take approximately 6 months before production could start.  Ymte hopes that the prototype will be available in the not too distance future so they can start testing on the road.

Trisled is offering a conversion kit for the old Tomahaws to update them to the new rules.  The kit costs under AU$2,000 will provide a completely new Chromolly roll frame, PETG windscreen, laser cut Coroplast body delivered in a flat pack as well as an instructional DVD.  Trisled estimates that there are about 200 trikes that could be updated.  For more information and order 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Still Frozen

Still Frozen
The past week we had more snow and it has been very cold with temperatures in the -35C overnight but with sun and significantly warmer during the daytime.  It looks at the moment that the extreme cold is slowly leaving us and we should have warmer temperatures hovering above freezing for the next week.  The sun is getting stronger so I hope this will have an effect on the accumulated snow.

I’m nowhere close to riding but when I’m not shovelling I still doing a bit of maintenance on the DF.  This week I made a plug for the air vent.  I used Polystyrene (rigid foam) insulation approximately 1/2in (1cm) thick that I cut to fit inside the boom then I glued a slightly larger polycarbonate plastic to allow me to pull it out.  This should be useful for riding at low temperature when you do not need the air to cool you down or remove moisture.


This week Michael Beyss finally provided a teaser of the new Evo-Kx.  The design is original At first glance, I find it a bit boxy; it appears to be very wide with a large frontal area, I wonder how this will affect performance.  It is made to accommodate larger riders with a 57cm width at the shoulders and room to also accommodate large feet.   The Kx is expected to weight 25kg and cost €8 000.

It is a departure from the sleek Evo designs but I think it may make a good commuter; I like the air intake at the front, it may provide good ventilation to the occupant.   I like the lights too but the impact of the light cover on light performance is a subject of discussion.  I see a lot of lines in the drawing; I wonder if this indicates separate parts because it would be a lot.  There are also optional integrated wheel pants covering the wheel wells but we did not see a hood yet.

Michael indicated that they are currently making molds so it is doubtful that something would be available for SPEZI.


Daniel Fenn has been working at improving the survivability of carbon fiber in collisions.  He recently did some tests on some polyamide and carbon fiber micro-sandwich panels ICB has made a few special DFs with polyamide Micro Sandwich. Micro-sandwich can also be made with fiberglass. Daniel claims that those are also superior to Kevlar. But the vast majority of velomobiles currently being produced are only made of carbon fiber. As a result, the current DF is almost perfect as long as you do not hit something.

Polyamide is a very good material because of its lightweight and it provides enormous tensile strength to weight ratio that can also stretch significantly before breaking.  Daniel’s tests indicate that the micro-sandwich panels retain stiffness of carbon fiber but they are much more capable of resisting an impact without being damaged.

The micro-sandwich VM will have a minor weight penalty in the order of 50gm for the polyamide and 220gm for the fiberglass.  From a cost perspective, while the use of fiberglass will not add any additional cost, the cost of polyamide will add a few hundred Euros to the cost of a DF velomobile.  If you have placed an order and are interested in upgrading your DF, you should contact ICB to enquire about upgrading.

Daniel has produced a few videos to show how much more resistant the new micro-sandwich panels are to impact using a 5.3kg (12lb) tool to demonstrate.

Trisled posted a time lapsed video of the installation of a Coroplast shell for the Tomahawk Pedal Prix velomobile.  Trisled did not indicate how long it took for the build.