Friday, May 29, 2015

Velomobile definition revisited

Velomobile definition revisited
In the past few weeks, the velomobile group on Facebook has been discussing what constitutes a velomobile.  The group page describes a velomobile as:
A Velomobile is a human powered vehicle for daily use with a shell for comfort, weather protection and luggage space.
Wikipedia defines the velomobile like this:   
A velomobile, or bicycle car, is a human-powered vehicle (HPV) enclosed for aerodynamic advantage and protection from weather and collisions. Nearly all velomobiles are single-passenger vehicles. They are derived from recumbent bicycles and tricycles, with the addition of a full fairing (aerodynamic shell). Most Velomobiles have three or four wheels. Fully faired two wheel road going machines are included within the more general category "human powered vehicle" (HPV).

A number of aggressive posters seem to think that any 3 wheel vehicle with a shell pedals seems to fit the bill even if it requires a motor.   Some are designed that way from the beginning and some regular velomobiles are converted. So the question is: when does a velomobile stop being a velomobile?  Does an ELF with a 750W electric motor meet this requirement?

In the eyes of lawmakers, a velomobile is considered a bike and there are restrictions in many jurisdictions to be considered a bike, these restrictions include the size of the motor usually under 350W, the maximum speed under motor power, the size of the vehicle, the weight of the vehicle.

Including micro cars with pedal assist a velomobile is analogeous to calling a moped or e-scooters with mini pedals are a bike.  Mopeds are used by a different group of people, not cyclists and they have caused issues and as a result moped require plates and drivers license in many jurisdictions and there are moves to restrict e-bikes too.  I’ve never heard of a moped rider who converted to a regular bike unless it was by necessity.

In my opinion, a velomobile needs to be identified as a bike otherwise we may be subject to undue scrutiny and regulations.  This is very important because if these micro-cars with pedal assist are identified as velomobiles, riders of human powered velomobiles will be subject of more scrutiny to see if we have motors and we may find ourselves cut-off from MUP and bridges that are built for active modes of transportation.

As such, here are my criteria:

·      First, a velomobile is a human powered so an average rider should be able to operate a velomobile in human powered mode for significant distances aver varied terrain. 
·      Second, the assist should not be more powerful than an average human and there are very few average riders who can sustain 250W of power.  If it is larger, it means that it is not an assist but the primary more of propulsion. 
·      Third, it should have a shell that provides a significant aerodynamic advantage over trikes and other pedal powered vehicles;
·      Fourth, they have three or four wheel whereby they do not need to be balanced when riding or at a standstill.

On the other side of the argument, proponents say that having more velomobiles on the road makes velomobiles better known and more popular.  They also claim that powered velomobiles may be a way to get people into human powered velomobiles. 
Personally, I think they want their micro cars to be seen as a bike like a velomobile because it removes scrutiny.  Just like a moped, I doubt that people buying an ELF would ever consider switching to a regular velomobile and considering those as velomobiles will create more issues for human powered velomobiles than it solves.  When I ride my velomobile, I get asked if I have a motor and when I tell them no they say: no way, you’re kidding!  If they knew an ELF was considered a velomobile, I would have more problems getting them to believe me. 

Human powered velomobile users, please make your views known.  Until I radically change opinion, I will be reporting on human powered velomobiles in this blog.


The Left Coast Velomobile Gathering, one of the largest velomobile gathering in North-America recently took place in Oregon.  Approximately 10 velomobile took part in the event that lasted several days with rides of the Willemette Valley and HPV competitions.  By European standards this is a very small gathering but with the very large distances it is quite a large event. Participants had to drive several hundreds if not thousand miles go get there.  The winner of the HPV race was a home made Coroplast velomobile on an ICE trike other participants rode a DF, a Milan SL, a Milan GT and several Quest and even a Varna streamliner.

Australian Pedal Prix

A very exciting video report was produced from the 6hr Loxton race part of the Australian Pedal Prix series.  The video is posted on You Tube  It appears that other races in the series may also receive video coverage.


Daniel Fenn is currently working on a smaller and lighter DF for a small female rider.  This DF is narrower, lower and shorter and lighter than the regular DF.  The smaller velomobile may be used by a female rider to participate in long distance record attempt.  Maybe this will become a product available to other riders, that would be for very small riders.  .  The name of the new model has not yet been set.  There are a few names being mentioned like DFN (DF narrow) or DFs (like the small Evo-K).  I would prefer DFs since DFN could be misread as DNF or Did Not Finish, a term used in racing.

There is no mention yet of the make and model of the new rear shock for the DF.  Some people have indicated that they may switch their DT Swiss for the new shock if improvements are noted.


Work on the QuatroVelo is continuing at the Romanian factory, the wheel wells were installed in the shell along with the seat.  The next item on the work list is the trunk lid.

Velomobiel announced that the Quattrovelo will only come in a carbon version.  The order form was changed to reflect this.  The Quattrovelo will only come in a carbon version.  Standard items include 1x10 derailleur drive-system, one colour, full lighting set with turning signals & and double headlight, rear air/oil suspension.  The available options include : The Schlumpf MountainDrive in front (2,5 ratio), child seat with appropriate luggage hatch. double colour and metallic paint.  Now the question is: Will it be ready for test rides at Velo Vision in a few weeks? 

Wim Schermer is testing an aftermarket a support leg for the boom in his Quest.  The support made of carbon fiber, increases the stiffness of the boom, which results in less energy wasted due to flex of the boom and/or shell.  The support leg is made to fit the Quest/Strada/Mango.  If the test is successful, maybe the part will be made available through his e-store (

Italian Dream Cycle

The new manufacturer Italian Dream Cycle showed on their Facebook page their second velomobile produced.  The photo with caption shows number one and number two on a tour of Tuscany.


We expected that the Marvelo would be making an official appearance at the LCVMG last week but unfortunately this was not the case.  I know Jon is working hard to finish the first production model and he probably ran out of time.  Let’s hope the new velomobile will make its appearance very soon.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hot Feet, maybe not for much longer

Hot Feet, maybe not for much longer
I have ridden about 1500km in the new DF and fit issues are mostly resolved.  In my recent 300km brevet I started suffering from what is commonly known by cyclists as “Hot Foot”, a condition many cyclists encounter where the toes progressively goes numb and a burning sensation under the foot starts to appear and becomes very painful to continue riding.  This problem is much worse when I ride my DF and I have to get up on the pedals when climbing. 

Since I rode the brevet I have tried to be very gentle and not to ride too much or too aggressively to give my foot a chance to get better.  Unfortunately, the numbness still appears after 30 minutes of riding.  I decided that I needed to address the situation if I want to continue riding long distances.  This week I went to see a specialist who makes orthopedic appliances for feet and after looking at my cycling shoes and my feet, he said that it was a condition called metatarsalgia where the metatarsal bones slowly collapse.  For cyclists, this is mostly due to the pressure on the pedals and overuse.  He is designing a new pair of insoles for my cycling shoes that will have a small bump in the middle of my foot in front of instep.  I hope that I will have them before my 400km brevet on June 6th.  In the mean time, I will try to ride shorter distances not to aggravate the problem.

I know many cyclists have this problem so I will report on my progress, hopefully, it will be positive.

European manufacturers are not reporting much lately, they may be busy getting prepared for Cycle Vision and with any luck we’ll have more things to report soon.


Daniel Fenn reported that they have chosen new shock absorbers for the back.  He indicated that contrary to the original DT Swiss shocks, an 80kg person would have to operate with 2.5 Bar (35PSI) of air in the new shock.  He has not yet disclosed the name of the supplier, the model or the weight of the new shock.  The choice of the new shock means that deliveries will return to normal soon.  Will the new shock be compatible with older DF?  Let's hope so.

While we should see several hoods for the DF make their way to DF owners, we have early reports of the hood performance. Riders took the hood for a test ride and reported on one sthe first hood made available by Intercitybike.  First, the hood is similar to the Evo-K hood, it uses the same motorcycle helmet visor and has a large side window but the DF hoof has an extra opening at the rear for venting. From comments made on-line, it seems that Michael Byess did not appreciate the similarities in the design.  Sunny reports good performance and indicates that water droplets are not penetrating inside from the side holes.  He indicates that fogging is an issue at times and must lift the front visor a bit to let enough air penetrate the cockpit but rain drops are also coming in.  Different solutions are being examined to resolve the issue.


Work on the QuatroVelo is continuing at the Romanian factory, pictures showing  workers sanding partially finished parts including  wheel wells, seat.  The seat will be wider and have a depression for the backbone.  The seat will reportedly be fully adjustable.

Sturmey Archer

Fastolfe, a Quest owner has installed a Sturmey Archer XL-SDD hub with 90mm brakes with integrated dynamo in his Quest.  The installation required some engineering and modification of the strut to accommodate the passage of the electric wire.  At the end of the day, the installation was successful and heavy braking has not had an effect on the dynamo performance so far.  He reports that the new hub is noisy probably due to the shell and the noise frequency changes under load.  He also tested the performance of the dynamo and while the test is not scientific, here are his numbers:

Speed mph/kph
Power (W)
(no load)
(9-cell NiMH pack)

The production from just one hub is impressive not the real question is how much power it takes to produce this electricity and how it affects the performance of the velomobile.  While it gives some piece of mind, I’m wondering if it is better to carry an extra battery instead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunshine 1200, a Velomobile Dominates

Sunshine 1200, a Velomobile Dominates
The inaugural Sunshine 1200km brevet took place last weekend.  I was invited to attend but at the time I did not know if I would get my DF in time to participate let alone adjust and practice enough for such a long event this early in the season. 

I rode over half the course in my Quest when I crossed the US a few years ago.  Of course riding with all the extra weight from luggage made it harder but nonetheless, I was chasing bikes across the length of the state and leaving them behind.  The extra weight also caused me a few mechanical issues along the way. When I received the invitation, I though this would be ideal for a velomobile, the road is relatively flat and straight but the big issue for us northerners would be the heat.

My Canadian friend Alain with his Carbon Quest decided to register for the event part of a field of composed of mostly regular road bike and a few recumbents.  From the start he took the lead and stayed in front for most of the first day but probably due to the heat and a number of flat tires, he fell behind but remained near the top.  It was a tough day for him.  After a few hours of sleep, he got back on the road and managed to return to the front and quickly started to put some distance between himself and the rest of the pack even is the hilly section of the course.  With such an advance he did not stop for more sleep and arrived at destination some six and half hours ahead of the second place finisher.  What is incredible is that Alain had 12 flat tires during the event.  The heat was certainly an issue as the thermometer registered above 100F (38C).

The velomobile industry is relatively quiet at this time and as a result there is relatively little to report this week.

It appears that the work on the new MX is progressing well and the delivery of the first MX is expected to be in December.


Raderwerk is now a dealer for products.  Jens announced that they now have a red carbon Quest at their test center in Siedenburg, Germany. The test center provides a place for test rides to compare several velomobiles at the same time. The test center’s stable now includes of course includes the Milan GT and SL as well as the Intercitybike DF and the Quest. 

After more than two months of waiting the countdown page to the unveiling of the new Milan website was finally updated last weekend, it has more info but the same old look and a lot of recycled content!  I guess the development of a new website is unfortunately proving beyond the abilities of the company.  It is very disappointing as there is no mention of the Milan SL MK3 or the two-person Milan 4.2.  Lets hope that work is still working in the background because this website is not at the level of their velomobile building abilities and they company is missing a lot by not being able to communicate the latest velomobile developments with their potential buyers that may even be too far for a visit.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Small adjustments, getting closer

Small adjustments, getting closer
I did not have a chance to ride much this week but took some time to play a bit more with the fit.  Last week I had problems with hotfoot and I decided to make small changes in the fit.  I changed the position of my cleats moving them down a bit (about 5mm).  I went for a short ride and the toes were now touching the shell so I split the difference and now it looks like the knee clears and the toes too.

I went for a ride and I must say that I’m impressed with the performance of the DF.  I rode a route with several Garmin segments and I was able to take tow first place, a second place (to someone who obviously had the GPS in their car (the rider was travelling at over 100km/h on a restricted access highway) and a 14th place where I rode easily with a 20+km/h wind in my face.

At the end of the ride I could feel some tingling in my foot and I expect that it will be sensitive for a bit of time so I’m trying to rest a bit and hopefully, it will gradually disappear.

Meanwhile, here is what is happening in the industry.


Allert went Romenia, for a few weeks to speed up the production of QuattroVelo..  He carried a bag containing the plug for the seat and the rear swingarm and other components. Theo will hold the fort in Dronten.  Meanwhile, the order book for QuatroVelo keeps growing  very quickly.

Velomobiel and Allight announced in late April that they are now producing oval chainrings used by many velomobile riders. For fast riders, they offer a 62 teeth version (BCD 130mm that is sold for for 85 euro.

Buyers of Milan velomobiles have reported that production has been affected due to the back order of parts coming from Europe.  Deliveries have been delayed.  Hopefully deliveries will return to normal soon.


It is confirmed that the Marvelo will make its first public appearance at the Left Coast Velomobile Gathering taking place in Oregon this year.  Jon is currently working feverishly to prepare for this as he will show the first production velomobile.  I think that people will want to make the trip so they can have a chance to see this new commercial velomobile.  The Marvelo is mase of vacuum-infused Carbon Fiber and resembles an Evo-k or a DF but is slightly larger to accommodate more riders.  Potential buyers will also be happy to know that it is currently priced fairly aggressively.


This is not news but I wanted to inform users of Mangos and other open wheel velomobiles that it is possible to improve performance relatively easily.  H@rry Leiben has used simple aerodynamic enhancements to significantly increase the speed of his Super Mango.  In addition to the tail expansion, he installs little covers or wheel arch shields between the wheel well and the tire to close the gap and over the open area under the velomobile where the wheel well is open between the shell and the tire essentially covering the steering and suspension mechanism.  The Mango has fairly large wheel arches and may be most beneficial but a similar system would also work for most open wheel velomobiles.

On the right you see the wheel arch covers and on the left the undercarriage cover for the wheel well.


We should finally see the updated the website in a couple of days.  I hope it will meet expectations after all this time.on the list

Cycle JV Fenioux

Cycle JV announced at Spezi that these velomobiles were available for sale,  I’ve been keeping an eye on the order list for the Mulsanne and the LeMans since. Unfortunately, I have not seen any orders yet.  Let’s hope a few will materialize soon to reward this new manufacturer for these out of the box designs..

Sunday, May 10, 2015

First 300km brevet in DF

First 300km brevet in DF
I’m a bit late reporting on industry activities, I’ve been busy lately.  One of the things that kept me busy was the installation of the 155mm crank in the DF.  Randy at Bluevelo sent me the new crank but the instructions were missing.  I found this video on line to explain how to remove the crank arm something that is not obvious.

This weekend, I rode my first 300km brevet in the DF.  I think the DF provides very good performance for brevets.   The DF climbs well, much better than the old Carbon Quest.  The lighter and stiffer machine compensates for the slightly higher gearing in the DF.

I’m still finding the new steed a bit cramped inside, getting in and out after long sections is a bit of a challenge.  The new 155mm cranks provide me a bit more room, I still have to be careful while pedaling; I hit my knee on one of the hatch cover bolts while I was repositioning myself in the seat and giving me a bloody gash in the process.  

I’m happy with my performance as I finished the brevet with 1,900m (6,200ft) vertical in 10 hours and 57 minutes.  While it is early in my season and I did not have a chance of riding on the hills this year, the performance is respectable and according the RUSA results stats compiled, I’m in the 1% who finish their 300km brevets in less than 11 hours.  You can read my more complete report here.


The order list for the Quatrovelo is quickly growing, there are now 20 on order and one of these new machines is coming to North America.  There is still no official price set but it is expected to be similar to the Carbon Quest but for what version Fiberglass or Carbon?  Maybe a bit more info on the velomobile would be useful.  We know that it will have a fixed axle at the rear, a Schlumphf Mountain Drive, possibly pneumatic shocks, 20 in wheels but beyond that, very little information has been officially released.

On the production side, Velomobile delivered 8 velomobiles in April; 5 Carbon Quest, I Carbon Quest XS and a Strada.  With the Quatrovelo, the orderbook has reached 28 velomobiles by the end of the month but has increased significantly since.


Intercitybike celebrated the first year of operation with the delivery of 62 velomobiles.   Unfortunately the production is still affected by the delivery problems of rear shock from DT Swiss.  Ymte indicated that they are actively looking for alternate supplier for the rear shock but in the mean time delivery of velomobies is postponed until at least May 16.

Ymte and Daniel are travelling to Romania to start the production of the hoods.  They set the price at €650 and extra visors will be available for €25.  The production is expected to be 1 to 2 units a week so current owners could have delivery by winter.  The same hood will fit both the DF and the DF-XL, only the size of the bib (flat part over the cockpit hole) will be cut to the larger dimension for the XL.

On the production side, Velomobile delivered 6 velomobiles in April5 DF and 1 DF-XL.  Problems with availability of parts have affected the number of units delivered.  Hopefully, these issues will be solved soon and production numbers will get back to normal.  At the end of April, there were 82 velomobiles on the waiting list.