Sunday, December 13, 2015

Velomobile riding Tips

Velomobile riding tips
This week I thought I would share some tips for newer riders and some who may want to address some issues they have when riding.

What to expect.  When riding a velomobile, for the first few weeks, you find yourself with no reference.  It is not behaving like a bike, a car or a trike; this leads to conflicting feelings when riding a velomobile.  A velomobile is less nimble than a bike, it requires a larger turning radius, does not accelerate quite as fast, requires that you pay attention to where all three wheels are located to try to skirt potholes and bumps.  A trike is similar but the speed will surprise you.  Because you are enclosed and low to the ground, you will feel a velomobile is slow compare to a car and the ride is a bit rougher.

Speed:  At first when you are riding a velomobile, you may not feel like you are going fast compared to a bike or trike, I think this is because you may feel you are riding in a car, you do not feel the breeze except on your face but look at the speed indicator, you will probably find you are riding from a few to many km/mph faster than you would be on a bike or trike on the same route. 

One of the biggest surprises I had was approaching an intersection with a stoplight.  On my road bike, I would stop pedaling and the speed would gradually decrease as I approach the intersection and maybe I would have to slightly press on the brakes to come to a complete stop.  In a velomobile, you would be wise to reconsider this strategy.  When you stop pedaling, it will take a few seconds for the speed to start going down and it will not go down quickly, you will have to put the brakes like you would in a car to stop in time.

Unlike bikes and trikes, at times a velomobile can travel at the posted speed or even at motorized vehicle speed, even of mostly flat ground.  This changes your relationship with traffic.  You need to ensure you take the lane so you do not get squeezed off the road by other vehicles on the road.  This completely changes your relationship with other users of the road, something you will need to get used to.

Steering:  The steering of most velomobile can be very sensitive, you need to turn only slightly to make the velomobile move sideways.  The steering requires about 30 degrees to go from neutral to full turn.  This is something you need to get used to because at high speed over steering my, at worse, cause you to lose control.  The sensitive steering can also produce movement Guppying – well I invented the term to describe the movement of the velomobile going slightly left and right as you pedal like a fish (guppy).   Some of that movement comes from mashing the pedals so smooth and round pedaling is important but not the only cause.  One of the best recommendations for those who have tiller steering is to rest your tiller on your body when you ride and hold the tiller very gently.  Gripping the steering will accentuate movement.  As a result, someone may instinctively want to counter-steer and this will create more of an issue that can even lead to the loss of control.  A tight grip on the steering is particularly dangerous going at high speed.  You may not feel safe but holding the tiller with white knuckles while descending at high speed is even worse.  If your velomobile tracks well on a flat surface, let it go down the hill, look far ahead and react slowly to turns , try to avoid quick movements of the tiller.

Turning: when you get to a street corner, ensure that you are not going too fast for the turn, reduce speed if you need to.  If you can don’t stay close to the curb, if traffic permits, take the lane; it will make the turn safer and you will be able to ride faster into the turn.  In sharp corners, it is easy to lift the front wheel on the inside of the turn and can be dangerous.  In addition to reducing the speed, you want to shift your weight to the inside of the turn to shift the weight to the inside wheel.  Just push you shoulder against the velomobile shell; it will help. 

If this does not work and you lift the front wheel, in order not to overturn, you will need to ease the tiller and turn it in the opposite direction and quickly apply the brakes.  This maneuver can be tricky and I suggest you try this in an empty parking lot.  You may also end-up in the incoming lane so be very careful you have to decide buy without this maneuver, you may find yourself in the opposing lane on you side.

Making a 180-degree turn in a velomobile can be tricky because most velomobiles have a large turning radius.  Pick a spot where the road is widest and flat, move completely to the side of the road, ensure that there is no vehicle coming in any direction, when the coast is clear, turn the steering to the maximum and quickly make your turn.  Keep in mind that your turning radius may be bigger than the road so you may have to unclip to push the velomobile backwards or use the wheelchair method if you do not have foot holes and you front wheels are open.  If you cannot perform the turn within the roadbed, you will have to stop and quickly back up.  Keep an eye on traffic at all times.  If you know you cannot quickly make the turn, try to make it to an entrance across the street then when there is no traffic you can back-up into the street or get out of the velomobile and manually move your velomobile in position.  Making a 180 turn can be dangerous so think of your strategy before you start the maneuver.

Road hazards: you will encounter many hazards on the road and you need to know what could be dangerous to you and your velomobile.  In a velomobile your position is close to the ground and in some models, visibility near the front of the velomobile may be restricted in addition, the speed and low position mean that some hazards may be more difficult to spot.  Since all three wheels have their own separate track, you have to be careful that all wheels miss hazards.  To do this you always need to scan the road ahead for potholes, bumps, rock and debris.  You should soon be able to estimate the track of the wheels and aim to miss the small ones or go around larger ones.  

One of the sneakiest issues you may encounter on the road is the slanted road.  Roads often have a slant to evacuate water, most of the times the crown is in the middle of the road but sometimes, only the shoulder is slated.  You have to be careful when riding when the road is slated more than about 15 degrees because this can make the velomobile unstable; you need to move to a flatter part of the road even if it means that you take the lane. 

Water and sand can also be an issue on the road, in a corner they can make the road slippery but an accumulation even in a straight line can also be dangerous because getting one wheel in deep sand or water at high speed may make you slide and lose control.  If you encounter an accumulation of sand or water, slow right down or steer clear of the hazard.

Performance:  You want to take advantage of the performance of your velomobile, you need to understand that you need to adapt.  To help you improve your performance there are a few tools you should consider getting.  The first is a cycling computer with cadence, it will help you better manage your

Cadence: in a velomobile, to get a good performance, you need to learn to spin the cranks.  You should have a cycling computer that measures and displays your cadence.  My cadence is significantly higher in the velomobile than it was on a traditional road bike; I average over 100rpm during my rides.  This high cadence will help with several aspects of your riding. 

In order to be able to spin the cranks safely at high speed you should have clipless pedals where you insert a cleat attached to your shoe into the pedal.  This prevents your foot from slipping on the pedal and hitting the shell and/or injuring yourself.  In addition, you can maintain proper position and enable you to pull on the pedal on the return stroke.  This makes it easier to climb steep hills and generally apply more power on the crank throughout the whole pedal revolution.

Climbing: when you approach a hill you have to determine if you will require to switch to a lower ring to get to the top.  Switch to the lower ring early, changing ring when you are climbing my lead you to drop the chain, You need to maintain a good tempo, at slow speed lets say when starting from a stoplight, you need to determine the right gear to climb.  The gear should be high enough to maximize you speed up the hill but low enough to also reach your ideal cadence for climbing.  When climbing, you should pedal constantly and try to maintain the same tempo; when you feel that it gets too hard to maintain the same cadence, shift down one gear at a time to keep the tempo.  At some point you could reach the lowest gear and you will need to reduce your tempo but you should try to maintain tempo until then.  When the slope gets less pronounced, you should try to keep the same tempo and the same level of effort to start accelerating so you need to shift the gears up one at a time until you get to the top.  If you need to, after you reach the top, you can coast for a few seconds and let your leg rest then continue accelerating until you reach your cruising speed. 

On rolling hills, after you reach the top, continue to shift the gears up all the way to you highest gear, accelerating to maximum speed, until you spin out.  You may be able to climb the next hill without losing much speed.  Do not stop pedaling, just shift down one gear at a time when needed trying to keep the tempo up.  Unless you feel uncomfortable at the speed you are traveling down the hill, you should not brake to reduce your momentum or use the minimum required to get down safely.

Accelerating: a velomobile is heavier than a bike or a trike but it does not mean that you cannot overtake them.  First, just like a on bike, you should be in a gear you will have no trouble pushing; make sure you have selected that gear before you stop. When you start from an intersection, start pedaling and keep up the tempo.  When you approach your maximum cadence, shift up one gear at a time, continue accelerating to maximum cadence then shift up again until you reach your cruising speed.   Bikes and trikes will reach their cruising speed while you will continue accelerating.  During acceleration, you can accelerate in stages. If your legs get tired or otherwise need a little rest, stop pedaling for a few seconds give yourself a rest, velomobiles will coast for a long time then give another push until you reach a higher speed and you need another rest, repeat the process until you reach your cruising speed.  

Equipment: To extract the most performance of your velomobile, some equipment will help the engine develop and work at peak power.  As indicated above, you should have a cycling computer that measures your cadence.  In addition, I recommend that you also have a heart rate monitor to ensure you can gauge your effort.  If you have a bit more funds, a power meter would help you better measure your performance.  To best use this equipment, you should seek information on how to use them best.

I hope these tips will help you ride safely and extract the most performance your velomobile has to offer.  I may provide more tips at a later date.

This week I have no velomobile industry news items to report… industry people must be thinking of the holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Addressing drivetrain issues

Addressing drivetrain issues
Over the past few weeks I have received questions on how I was able to install the Praxis 11-40 on the DF.  When I first installed the Praxis cassette, it was a straight switch from the stock 11-36 but since I had a few issues including the lateral adjustment spacer of the crank coming loose so I had to start from scratch. So here is how I re installed the crank and adjusted the drivetrain.

First lets remember that I have a front Rotor 3D crankset with 56-34 rings which is close to the maximum of the front derailleur and the 11-40 is at or very close to the maximum gear difference that the rear derailleur can handle so it is a bit tricky to adjust but it is possible.
Second thing to remember is that a velomobile has a suspension and when you adjust and test without being in the velomobile, shifting may not work properly.  The weight in the velomobile pushes the suspension and takes some of the slack of the chain so the chain does not rub and shifts. 

First I placed the crank approximately at the location where I used to have it.  I put the crank brackets and tighten the bolts.  After this, I reinstalled the front derailleur cable then reinstalled the chain.  I had problems because the chain got twisted in the chain tunnel and I had to re-thread the chain through the tunnel.  It took three tries to get it in the right place without being twisted.  I installed the quick link then I turned the crank to ensure it was turning freely.

With the chain installed, I start testing the shifting through all the gears using rollers.   It is important to look at the space between the top wheel of the rear derailleur and the cassette, it needs to be far enough from the biggest gear for the chain to pass.  The adjustment is done using the b-screw, a screw at the back of the derailleur.  If not adjusted properly, the derailleur will not be able to switch down from the largest cog.  In this case you need to  turn the screw clockwise to increase the gap.

You need to go on the road and try the shifting.  The most extreme combination should be tested (largest ring, largest cog and Smallest ring, smallest cog).  In the large/large combination, you should have enough chain to not overstress the derailleur.  If overstressed, you may need to add a couple of links to the chain, or move the crank back a few millimeters.  When not loaded the derailleur is fully extended and may get stuck on the shell so make sure you try this combination when you are inside the velomobile.  In the small/small combination, the derailleur arm will be completely folded but the chain may still be loose and rub at the bottom of the shell.  To address this you may have to remove a few links or move the crank forward a few millimeters.
X-0 Derailleur position in large/large

X-0 Derailleur position in small/small

It takes a bit of time to sort out, it was a few hours for me to do this then I went for a ride.  When I returned I was not pleased with shifting, the chain was rubbing in small/small so I moved my crank forward about 4-5mm.  I went for another test and the issue had been resolved.

As usual this week there are velomobile industry news items to report.


Cab-Bike in Poland has a new English website for   The site shows 3 different models.  Piotr Majcher is the principal of the organization cabbike/PIMA that was spun off from Wejkama to produce and sell the new version of the Cab-Bike adapted by Maciej Kaczmarek.

Cycle JV

The finished Mulsanne was unveiled this week.  The velomobile is carbon-fiber black.  The velomobile is equipped with a hatch under to access steering components.  Apparently the new prototype should be ready for rolling tests by Christmas.


There were 11 deliveries in November, including 2 carbon Stradas, 6 carbon Quests, 1 Quest XS and 1 carbon Quest XS.

In November there were 8 new orders 1 Quest and 7 QuattroVelo, bringing the current backlog to 58 including 36 QuattroVelo.  The initial rate for the QuattroVelo is probably going to be one per week so I estimate that it would take 9 months to produce the 36 QuattroVelo when the production starts.


Daniel has produced a prototype of a new hood for the Quest/Strada/Mango.  He is currently testing.

In November ICB delivered 13 velomobiles these deliveries are split 9 DF-XL and 4 regular DF.  During the same period, 6 new velomobiles were ordered; 4 DF and 2 DF-XL.  At the end of November there were 25 velomobiles on order.  At the current production rate ICB could clear the backlog in 2 months, as a result with production outpacing sales I expect that production level will drop slightly.

Daniel published a rendering of the DF-XL showing most mechanical components.  This is similar to the one produced for the Quest.


You will remember that was formed shortly before the split.  In the announcement, it was indicated that Allert, Theo, Ymte and Jan would remain partners in This week Ymte posted on the German Forum that Jan Wilnen has taken over and is now the sole owner of the Romanian manufacturing company.  Since it’s beginning, the company has increased it production significantly now manufacturing shells and components for many other European velomobile manufacturers.

Dutch Forum

It looks like there is a new Dutch recumbent forum.  It can be accessed here:  There was an automatic translation function using Google Translate.  The function is near the top on the left hand side. Above the list of Blogs.

Monday, November 23, 2015

End of November update

End of November update
I have not been posting as regularly recently; I’ve been too busy and trying to squeeze-in a few rides before I put the DF in storage.  I’m not at the top of my game now and will have to wait until the spring before I get back in riding shape.  In the mean time, I will have to ride my trainer and keep-up with velomobile developments.  


Here is some info on the 20in composite velomobile wheel. The wheel size is 406-27 with 10 spokes.  It can accommodate several hubs.  The wheels are injection molded using Nylon with a reinforcement of 40% fiberglass. The 27 mm wide rim is not suitable for narrow tires.  Alligt sells the matching hub for the wheel with an adaptor to fit Sturmey Archer 90mm brakes.  The adapter is pressed and bolted to permanently attach to the hub.  The adaptor also provides additional cooling for the brakes.

The new wheel will be sold through Alligt’s distributors like Web shop Dutch Bike Bits (

Cycle JV

The finished Mulsanne was unveiled this week.  The velomobile is carbon-fiber black.  We’ll have to wait and see how the testing is


Allert posted a report on the Blog some information on the testing and refinement process of the QuattroVelo.  Allert reported that the rear suspension using a live axle will make the rear end dance slightly when passing bumps or potholes on the road.  Allert looked at possible alternatives to address the situation but so far these created more serious issues.  As a result, you will see the QuattroVelo dance a bit over bumps and potholes.
Velomobiel also reported that the rear wheel wells will have to be slightly larger too

Allert uploaded a video showing how a flat on one of the rear wheel would impact road handling on the QuattroVelo.  Well it looks like the rider will hardly notice the flat tire, the velomobile appears to track very well. 

A number of people visited Velomobiel recently to have a chance to test ride the QuattroVelo.  I read a number of positive reviews from those who had a chance to view and sit in the new velomobile.  One comment that comes back regularly is that the storage space was smaller than they expected; it will not accommodate a case of beer!  Maybe this is because velomobile rider should not drink!


Back to the future?  ICB announced that they have a new shock but it uses springs like the old Quest shock.  Some will remember that there were issues with the Quest shock when crossing rumble strips or even railroad tracks.  As a result some riders lost control or almost lost control of their velomobiles.  The springs were unable to dampen the bumps on the road fast enough and instead amplified the vertical movement making the velomobile jump up and down uncontrollably.   I hope the new shock has been tested in these conditions.

Velomobile Rescue

There is an excellent initiative undertaken by participants on the German Forum to publish velomobile rider rescue instruction including an information card, a video and even QR code to access the information on-line.   The video shows how to remove an unconscious rider.  Currently the information is for the Strada but could be adapted to other models.  The information is currently only available in German at the moment but hopefully, with the help ot other riders, it will be available soon in English and hopefully other languages.  It is still a work in progress but I think it may eventually save lives.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Early November update

Early November update


Alligt announced that their four-wheel velomobile is now available. The Sunrider Velo Quad has been tested and is now available for orders. The current Velo Quad prototype had logged approximately 8,000 kilometers and has been properly tested.

According to the company, the four wheels provide an advantage in terms of safety compared to a three-wheel velomobile.

The Velo Quad Sunrider is equipped with assistance that will have a maximum assisted speed of 45km/h, faster than the three-wheeler version.

Ligfiet also reports that Alligt has produced a new 20in velomobile wheel.  There are no specs released yet but will be the subject of a future report by the publication.

Fietser announced that they offer water-cooled drum brakes.  The brakes provide the reliability of drub brakes and increased braking power under heavy braking.   The brakes were tested on a recent trip from Austria to Portugal and back.  These water-cooled drum brakes proved to be a much better solution than regular drum brakes or disk brakes.

Velomobile Seminar

Several participants reported on the information presented at the Velomobile Seminar.  There were interesting information being discussed including emerging velomobile design concepts and a review of tire testing methodologies and results.

As I mentioned previously it is unfortunate that participants were mostly from a limited number of European countries and did not provide the sharing of ideas across continents. Papers and presentations have not yet been posted on-line,


Information on the company’s website shows no deliveries in October.  Maybe they have not been posted yet due to the recent move to the new location. 

There are 30 velomobile on order at the end of October, 3 of those were ordered in October.  One interesting thing about ICB’s order book is that four of those orders are over one year old.


Velomobiel presented the rideable QuattroVelo at the Velomobile Seminar last week.  Participants had a chance to sit and try the new velomobile.

In October Velomobiel delivered  9 velomobiles including the QuattroVelo prototype.  It also includes 1 Quest XS, 3 Carbon Quest XS, 2 Quest, 1 Carbon Quest and a Carbon Strada.

Meanwhile at the end of October there were 54 velomobiles on order at Velomobiel including 3 new velomobiles that were ordered in October.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

End of October Update

End of October Update

Cycle JV

Cycle JV posted pictures of the Mulsanne velomobile being built.  The pictures show a shell partially built. 


This week announced the base price for the QuattroVelo… the price has been set at €7,500.  The price will be for a limited set of features and will not include things like Schlupmf drive, these will be optional.  The new velomobile will be officially introduced this weekend at the Velomobile Seminar.


This week Ymte announced the move of ICB’s operations to a new 500 m2 (5,400 ft2) much larger than the workshop next to the Templeman’s bike shop.  The new workshop  situated at Koperweg 3, 8251 KA Dronten, 0321-340928.will offer test rides, sales and all maintenance and repair services.  In addition Daniel will operate from a workshop in southern Germany.  Daniel will continue the design of new products and support customers in the area.  

Velomobile Seminar

This is a reminder that the 8th International Velomobile Seminar 2015 is taking place on 30 October to November 1st at the Kulturhaus in Dornbirn, Austria.  The program is now available in English here.


Schwalbe has released the Schwalbe Pro One, a tubeless version of the Schwalbe One.  The prototypes of the tire in size 28-406 have been released in Europe and they are being tested.  Using this tire will require the installation of compatible rims.

Wim Schermer

Speaking of tires, Wim Schermer has released rolling resistance test results for fastest tires currently on the market.   It looks like Schwalbe will have to work harder to develop faster tires.  Check out the whole report here


The Cab Bike molds have ended-up in Poland some time ago, this was the last place were they were produced.  A few months ago I reported that someone, was trying to restart production with a newer design of the old Cab-Bike.  Well it appears that some progress has been done and there is even a two-seater version of the Cab Bike that may be called Cab Bike Duo or Car Bike.  In an on-line article (in Polish) you can see the Cab Bike Duo.  The new four-wheel vehicle seats two persons side by side and looks a bit like a sports car, it has two sets of pedals but one tiller on the left hand side.  Overall, the vehicle looks a bit like the Duo-Quest.  The wheels are narrower at the back and they appear to be all 20in, drum brakes at the front and it has a lockable trunk.  Models appear to be available in a cabriolet and sedan version.

This is an interesting news item with video and pictures where you can hear Maciej Kaczmarek talk about his velomobiles and you will see his shop with many velomobiles in different state of completion.

The last web address I had for the Cab-Bike was for a company that made truck fairings Cab Bike Hawk, an updated version of the original but there is very little real information.  So I don’t know if or how Maciej (or Maciek or even Mieczyslaw) Kaczmarek is associated with wejkama.  He is very difficult to get in contact with, I have not been able to find a website or an e-mail address for the product or the Mr. Kaczmarek so if anyone has more information, please share.