Monday, September 21, 2015

Battle Mountain Record Runs


Battle Mountain Record Runs
At this time of the year the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) holds the World Human Powered SpeedChampionships (WHPSC), an annual event that is taking place in Battle Mountain, Nevada.  The local conditions at this time of the year are perfect to attempt world records.  For one week, a five-mile (8km) section of state highway is closed to traffic twice a day in order for human powered land vehicles to attempt to beat world records.

In the Battle Mountain area, the organizers found a place where the relatively high altitude, provides less air resistance, the wind conditions at this time of the year are calm at sunrise and at sunset, there is a long straight stretch of road that is flat with the maximum allowed negative slope (-0.6%) and the Nevada Transportation Department repaved the highway a few years ago to provide a very smooth road surface.

They do not compete for money, for their efforts all they receive is a baseball cap that indicates the speed they exceeded in 5mph increment. The Nevada State Troopers also come distribute speeding tickets to those who manage to exceed 70mi/h.  The winner gets to ride in the back of the police car!


This is a crop year when it comes to world records where several were achieved in several categories including for velomobiles.

The biggest new is the how Canadian rider Todd Reichert in his Streamliner ETA set overall speed record 3 times in the same week.  In the process, he did not only break the record, he obliterated he record reaching 139.21km/h an increase of 5.43km/h.  The team produced a nice video of their second record run.


Two of the world records pertain to velomobiles.  First Ellen van Vugt broke the multit-ract record for women in Trisled Completely Overzealous velomobile twice finishing with a speed of 87.63 km/h.  16year-old Florian Kowalik also riding Completely Overzealous broke the multi-track record in the junior category twice during the week finishing the week with a speed of 93.22.  Florian’s little sisters also set WR in their age categories with the Micro-Moby pink Streamliner; this is quite the family!  You can check all the results here.
Completely Overzealous at Battle Mountain
I would really like to see production velomobiles participating in the next event so they can measure against the record speed setting streamliners and velomobiles. ICB, Raderwerk, Velomobiel, you want to prove that your design and riders are the best, here is a place for you to prove yourself.

I find that it is very unfortunate that mainstream and cycling media are completely ignoring these achievements. We need people who get the attention of media.

Mike Mowett who has been following cycling records made an excellent analysis of the cycling speed record.  He also designed a chart that shows the evolution and the difference between categories and sanctioning bodies.
 
Chart by Mike Mowett
Mike Mowett - Top Speed Plot Progression.
Eta is causing things to shoot upward. Since the bicycle was invented, its speed remained relatively stagnant until the IHPVA was founded and the IHPSC competitions from 1975 to 1980 raised the speed record 20 mph in only five years, culminating with the Vector Tandem's mark in 1980. This two-person three-wheeled vehicle, was thought to be the ultimate human powered vehicle, and it was for almost six years. Then during the next 20 years, the record progressed rather linearly with the Vector Tandem's mark set in 1980, the Gold Rush winning the Dupont Prize in 1986, the Cheetah team setting their record in 1992, and finally Sam Whittingham and Varna making the first runs at Battle Mountain in 2000. The following year, the competition between Sam and Matt Weaver raised the record suddenly from 72 mph to over 80 mph. Over the next 8 years Sam improved his record incrementally. Then Human Powered Team Delft and Sebastiaan Bowier raised the record incrementally again, after three years of efforts. And now Team AeroVelo and Todd Reichert have caused us to rethink what is possible with human powered speed with their runs in the past two days! The limit of human powered speed is certainly not closed!
                                                                                                                              

Australian Pedal Prix

Last weekend was the annual 24hr Pedal Prix race  at Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge.  The Aurora racing team won the race by 16 laps ahead of Team Trisled.  The covered 962km in the 21hr period and some 32km over the second team, averaging some 40km/h.  One interesting fact is the 226 entries for this race easily making this the largest velomobile race in the world.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Manufacturers and vendors websites


Manufacturers and vendors websites
One of the biggest complaints regarding velomobiles is that one cannot get current information from websites.  While some manufacturers have good sites with current information, most do not.  This is detrimental to the expansion of the companies and the sport in general.  Some may say that they also have Facebook, Blog and other social media pages where they post information but it does not inspire confidence in the company when the information on the main window is stale.  After visiting these websites here are some of the questions potential customers might ask themselves:  Is the company still in business?  How many velomobiles have they produced? Will they be there when I need parts and support?  If the company is not paying that much attention when I have money to spend, how much support will I get after I have given them my money?

Where are potential customers supposed to find their information on the different models, pricing, etc. when companies do not make this information freely available? I have to scour many sources to be able to tap into the inner sanctum of information to be able to gather the information I’m regularly posting here and most of it is not from manufacturers’ site.  My hope is that the industry improves the situation and learn from the better sites.

Here is a review of the principal manufacturers and distributors.

Katanga (www.katanga.eu): Website Last update (latest news July 2014), English only, nice pictures but no information on models, specifications and price.
Raderwerk (www.milan-velomobil.de):  The company promised an updated website some 6 months ago but there is still nothing.  I’m not sure when the last update was made, the site is mostly in German with some English translation, it shows information on older models (Mk2), the price list is from 2010!
Byess (www.go-one.de): The first page indicates they are World Champion velomobile for 2013… they were also World Champion in 2014 and while there is a post in the News section about this, the first page was never updated.  The last update is from the spring of 2015, it promises the unveiling of the new Evo-Kx at SPEZI in the spring but it was not unveiled at the show and there has been no news on the project since.  One also could ask if the price quoted is still in effect.
Rainforest Design (velomobiles.ca, velomobiles.blogspot.ca):  The site was probably updated last in 2012, it shows dated information on the Milan built under license from Raderwerk and the specs do not reflect the updates and modifications that have been made on the Canadian version.  It is not clear if the Borealis and Aurora are still available for purchase.  Steve also has a Blog that provides some new information on his velomobile development work but again, the latest post if from last February. The sites are only available in English only.
Bluevelo (bluevelo.com): The site provides info on models sold but.it has remained fairly static with minor updates.  One has to ask the relevance of the Cab Bike, Team or Hornet that may not have been sold in a few years.  The site also provides some support information like user manuals for some models. The site is only available in English only.
Marvelo (Marvelo.blogspot.ca): The Marvelo site is a Blog but provides information on the development process of the SKR, specification and price. Marvelo is new and does not have the resources needed to continue on the development while keeping a website updated.  At times there are periods where the information is not flowing out but hopefully this will improve over time as the company matures., maybe a full website will come in a not too distant future. The site is only available in only English.
Velomobiel (velomobile.nl, velomobiel.wordpress.com, also on Facebook): Velomobiel.nl has one of the best presence on the Internet.  They provide current info on their products, updates on their new development projects, information on maintenance but they also provide production and order information.  Information is updated probably every week and they publish a Blog with information on company’s activities, mostly product development.  The company also posts info on events they attend on Facebook.  This is not to say that the site could not be improved but the company really makes an effort.  No wonder the company is the largest manufacturer of velomobiles in the world.  Information is available in Dutch, English and some in French
IntercityBike (intercitybike.nl): probably the second best site the company is in its second year of operation but they have made a real effort to provide information on the Internet.  They have current specifications, order information, orders and production.  The company also has a Blog to provide information on company activities.  Unfortunately the site does not contain information on velomobile maintenance or user manual. Chief designer Daniel Fenn provides information on maintenance and on development projects on a You Tube channel but the information is only available in German.  Information on the company’s website is updated regularly and is available in Dutch, English and French but not in German even though Germany is the country that has the most DF owners.
CycleJV (www.cyclesjv.com): The velomobile dealer and new manufacturer Cycle JV-Fenioux has a very nice website that provides information on all the models they sell including a lot of pictures and basic specs for each model to make it easier to compare.  One important aspect of the site is to view all the velomobiles available in stock for immediate delivery including their specs, options and price.  They also have order and production information on the models they produce.  In addition, the company has a Blog and provides information on You Tube that includes reviews of the most popular velomobiles they sell and Facebook is used to provide information on event they attend.  Information on the website appears to be updated fairly regularly and is available in French and English.
Sinner/Drymer: The website is very minimal, just info on the different models, no support info, no blog, no order or production information.  Harry Leiben from Sinner has a good web presence and provides a lot of information on the Mango including How To videos but these are not available from the Sinner website.
Leiba (www.leiba.de): Good description on the vehicles, lots of details, price lists but several broken links.  There is some limited owner support info.  It is not clear when the site was last updated.  There are no blog, order or production information.  The Information on the website appears to be fairly static, I did not see the date of the latest update. The info is available in German, English and some is available in Russian but the Russian is fairly scant. 
Alligt (alligt.nl): The site provides information on each model and price.  It also provides info on velomobile and bike parts manufactured by Alligt.  The site does provide user support info since many velomobiles are sold as kits to be assembled by the owners.  The info is only available in Dutch and there is no way of contacting the company through e-mail.   There is no blog, order or production information available.
Trump (trumptrikes.com.au): The site was changed recently but is still under construction and beyond a static homepage, there are only three PDF files providing info and price on the different models of trike and fairings.  We’ll have to see what the new site has to offer. Trump also has a significant presence on Facebook. The site is only available in English since the clientele is local.
Trisled (www.trisled.com.au): One of the better sites, it provides info on all models including specs, price and user manual.  You can place orders for parts on-line.  There are articles on records and significant achievements but there is no Blog.  Trisled also has a significant presence on Facebook.  The site is only available in English even if their clientele is more international.

There are better sites but all could improve their Internet presence.  Let's see if this review will spark improvements.

IntercityBike

ICB has produced a kit to create an attachment to serve as a mounting point on the chassis to install a bicycle trailer hitch. The attachment provides a place to drill holes to fasten a hitch to the chassis. ICB claims that it is extremely stable and is sufficient the bracket is sufficient to transmit the torque of a trailer to the chassis.  The attachment is situated near the rear hub, he further behind and slightly lower but apparently it is higher than the mounting point on the Quest. The attachment weighs about 80g including glue. Owners can retrofit any Df. but the kit can be used also to retrofit the Evo-R, Evo-K and Evo-ks.  Contact ICB for pricing and delivery information.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Early September update


Early September update
Around here this is the Labor day weekend, a long weekend and this year the weather is very nice.  Unfortunately I have not been able to ride in the past few weeks since my 600k brevet.  This is unfortunate for me as the weather has been excellent in the past few weeks.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, I damaged the DF during the brevet and had to perform some carbon fiber repairs to the rear idler housing.  I performed the repairs and I’m waiting for a new idler from ICB to replace the rear idler I have.  The sides of the Ginko have been damaged and will be replaced with the Alligt idler. Looking at the front idler, I can see it should also be changed but it is not as critical as the rear.  

In addition, due to the difficult riding conditions caused by the drivetrain issues, I injured my ankle; since I did not have access to the large chainring. I had to spin the pedals at more than 130RPM to keep the speed up especially in descents and not having access to the lowest gears during climb put too much strain on my ankle.  I am just starting to walk without pain.  I hope to be able to start riding in a few days if I don’t have any setbacks.

Raderwerk

This is an item that went almost unnoticed.  A new Milan has been produced; it is the Milan RS.  The RS is even smaller than the SL but has larger “humps” to accommodate knees and feet.  The news appeared on the German Forum and you would not know looking at the company’s website that has not changed yet.  Is this velomobile going to be produced on a large scale?  I do not know at this time.  The company was supposed to launch the new website in time for SPEZI and make an exciting announcement… I guess we have a new velomobile but only limited info on it.  The new velomobile has apparently been designed for breaking new records and not necessarily for riding on the roads but I bet some riders will not heed to this advice.

From L to R Milan GT, SL and RS

Wejkama

A new hybrid velomobile could be introduced to the market soon; a Polish company Wejkama has developed the Cab-Bike Hawk.  This is not a new project, Kenneth reported on the project in 2013 here http://www.velomobiles.co.uk/tag/cab-bike/ While the project appear to have made some progress with a prototype on the road, there are still few details available but several pictures and an e-mail address to find out more about the velomobile and price.  From the pictures we can see that the Cab-Bike has been completely redesigned with a new top that is more aerodynamic. The Cab Bike Hawk resembles the Sunrider, Orca or Versatile that are also hybrid velomobiles.  The big question is if there a market for another velomobile that is similar to 3 others that are only moderately successful?  It is not clear where the molds came from but for the past several months, someone was looking to sell a set of molds for the Cab-Bike… maybe they found an interested party. wejkama.com/en/cab-bike-hawk-en

Paris Brest Paris

Last week I mentioned that Ymte was the first to finish in a velomobile but in fact it was Hajo Eckstein riding a Milan SL that finished first, however he finished 36th overall. 

Marvelo

More pictures of the first production SKR have been posted pictures this week on the Marvelo Blog .  You can see the large cockpit access hatch and the front service hatch open. 


Byess

There are still no news on the Evo–Kx.  The prototype was to be unveiled in the spring at SPEZI but no information, or pictures have surfaced yet.  One would think that the company would be eager to inform potential customers of this exciting event but unfortunately like Raderwerk, Byess does not make communication a priority, there is no mention of the Kx on the company’s website.  While we do not know the reason why this project is so far behind schedule, hopefully we’ll see the Kx by the end of the year.

Velomobiel

Velomobiel.nl received 9 orders for velomobiles in August and 6 velomobiles were delivered.  Two of those were delivered to Velomobiel.  There were 2 Quest, 1 Carbon Quest and 3 Strada delivered.  August is normally a slow month with many people on holidays and this may be reflected in the number of deliveries.  At the end of August there were 47 velomobiles on order at Velomobiel.nl.

Someone pointed out that the new Carbon Quest now come with a carbon swingarm instead of the aluminum swingarm.  The carbon swingarm was an option previously but it is now available on all new Carbon Quest.  This will help address some of the stiffness issues that the old Carbon Quest had.

IntercityBike

Well deliveries of velomobiles were not affected by the holidays at ICB.  There were 16 velomobiles delivered in August 4 DF and 12 DF-XL.  This may be explained in part due to the issues with the unavailability of the original DT Swiss shock that stopped all deliveries for several weeks earlier this season.  On the order side, only a single DF was ordered in August.  At the end of August there were 47 velomobiles on order at ICB.

Drivetrain issues may force ICB to change supplier for the idlers.  Several riders have reported issues where the chain jumping the idlers when the drivetrain is under strain like when riders are climbing a steep hill in the lowest gear.  The chain appears to push on the sides of the idler.  The Ginko idlers have soft metal sides that deform and cannot hold the chain in place.  Ymte and Daniel have been testing idlers from a few manufacturers some with teeth some without.  Daniel posted pictures of the Next Generation DF with a double idler at the front.  It appears that he modified two Alligt idlers, one with teeth and one without to make this double idler.
Twin front idler in DF Next Generation prototype