Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Late January Update

Late January Update
First let me give thanks to everyone who sent me comments and messages regarding my first year writing a regular blog.   There is much to report over the year and analysis to be done and without fail, I find a new bit of information just after I press publish.  I'm looking forward to the New Year.  Finding information and writing little summaries takes time and I try to do this in my spare time.  Hopefully I will continue to have the time to do this regularly.

This week I have a number of things to report.


This week, Jon provided an update on the Marvelo.  There are currently three SKRs on order.  The first production unit built last summer is currently being used as a demonstrator it has a double-sided aluminum swingarm with an air shock, but future models will have a single sided carbon swingarm.  The standard drivetrain is also under revision; the SKR will be sold with a choice of a conventional 2x10 or 3x10 derailleur-based drivetrain.

Jon is currently working on a hard-top/cockpit canopy.  Just like the standard Milan and WAW, it will be detachable from the cockpit hatch.

As far as performance goes, based on his tests, Jon reports that the SKR is on par with the Milan GT and likely somewhere between the WAW and DF.  He is currently considering offering the Marvelo SKR as a kit. The estimated price for the kit would be approximately $5,000 USD.  This is a very attractive price for a good carbon fiber velomobile and provides a good entry point for new riders on a budget.


The Dutch recumbent publication offered a free on-line issue last week.  I had a chance to read the issue with the help of Google and I was very impressed with the quality and content.  I do not think there is another publication that provides the same type of content anywhere around the world.    I wish you would publish this information on-line  as it would be easier for some of us to  use tools to understand the interesting articles you publish.


Daniel informed members of the Velomobilforum that he has finished the development of the “everyday” wheel pants for the DF/DF-XL and Evo-K, Ks and R.  There is no word yet on delivery timeframe and price. 


Wim Schermer reports on the latest development of the VeloTilt prototype.  A new front fork has been installed..  The new fork addresses some of the shortcomings from the old design.  I hope we see this velomobile on the road soon so we can have a better idea of the overall performance.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!
Today is my 50th blog post. A year ago I started this little blog because I wanted to share industry news and give some insight into the velomobile world.  I am not part of the velomobile or bicycle industry but I like to observe those who are involved and share my observations.  I derive no income and try to remain independent to ensure I am not pressured on the info I provide.

When I started, I saw a need for a source of timely information on velomobiles, including new developments, new offerings, and to provide some general information on manufacturers, distributors as well as some analysis of this information.  At that time, I frequently saw questions from velonauts and would be velonauts and they could not easily find answers. I was looking for a way to share the information I was already gathering from different sources including websites, message boards in several language and Facebook pages; a blog could do this.  It can be daunting at times to gather information in a timely manner.   Extracting this information can be difficult at times, this in large part due the language barrier.  There are posts in English, French, German, Dutch, Italian and several east European languages.   I often need to use translation services like Google and I need to be fluent in "Googlish", this pseudo language where the syntax is often out of whack and one needs to make sense of this and sometimes I have misinterpreted what was posted but hopefully not too often and some of you have set me straight.  I try to post as much as I can but I try to be selective too so you may not find some of the information you may have read somewhere else.  Maybe it is because I did not see it or maybe it is because I did not find it relevant for many readers.

I hope that the information I provide is useful to you; comments I received so far appear to be positive.  If you have suggestions for subjects to be addressed in the future, post a comment and I will see if I can provide information.

Emergency Exit

Plasticized cards providing information to emergency crews for extracting velomobile riders in case of emergency are now available for sale. The is fan folded card cost 2 - € 5 and an accompanying 8 x 2,85 cm (BxH) sticker to place on the outside of the velomobile to inform emergency staff of the card can also be purchased for 3 - € 5. At the moment, the instructions are cover velomobiles like the Quest, Strada and Mango that have foot holes.  The cards currently available only in German, I hope it will soon be available in other languages and for other types of velomobiles.  To order you have to respond to the thread on the German Forum.
Pictogram seen on the emergency sticker


The new rear shock uses a metal spring will be available at the end of February.  It is reminiscent of the Quest rear shock but it is beefier. Ymte reports that it has been tested for 8,000km (5,000mi) so far.  It appears that ICB will build the new shock in house.  This shock will apparently replace the DT Swiss air shock in new DF velomobiles.  There is no mention of the price for the new shock.
Parts of the new rear damper for DF

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winter training

Winter training
The weather is crazy!  We were cycling at X-mas then after New Years day, the temperature dropped below -30C then it is again above freezing with rain and tonight the temperature will drop down to -15C.  I’m not cycling outside at the moment, the velomobile is stored for the worse of the winter, the roads are near impossible to ride during this period.  I use an old MTB to get some fresh air and a ride my road bike on a trainer.

I purchased a new Tacx Smart Vortex trainer to replace my old one that was difficult to setup.  It has all kinds of features.  The trainer is controlled using a computer, tablet or smartphone.  While this is good in theory, I find it is not the same in practice.  While the trainer works well, the bells and whistles are not working as promised.  I’m told the issue is the software provided.  For example, the Tacx training software does not see the Ant+ devices even with the Wahoo dongle.  The Wahoo software sees all devices but not the Tacx even if it recognizes the dongle and Ant+ icon appears when the dongle is connected.  I checked the support from Tacx and several people have the same issues I experienced and after several months there is no response from Tacx support.  To be fair, I’ve seen unaddressed problems from some other manufacturers. One wonders what kind of quality control and support these companies have where they completely ignore issues reported to them.  After all people have paid only a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for the devices and why would they expect them to work as advertised?

I may try some other software that I will have to purchase site unseen based on 3rd party recommendations.

Let’s look at recent industry news.

Cycle JV

Joel Vincent released on Facebook a video of the first ride of the Mulsanne.  Apparently the ride was a success but on the video you can hear a lot of creaking, the velomobile probably requires some more adjustments and this has to be expected at this point.


Velomobiel issued a warning about their blue Li-ion batteries.  The batteries should not to be charged at a temperature below 0 degrees Celsius or 32F.   Failure to follow this recommendation may completely damage the battery or at best lose some of its capacity.  Velomobiel recommends that owners take the battery indoors and let get warm before charging.  I think this is a very good advice not only for the blue Li-ion but for Lithium batteries in general.


Daniel is finally working on wheel pants for DF they will be approximately 550g a piece, probably turning radius would be between 14m and16m, depending on the tire rim offset, Daniel has been using wheels that provide narrower track.  The price will be in the 600€ range.  Not only will they fit the DF but they will be adjustable for the DF-XL and also the Evo-R, Evo-K and Evo-Ks.  From the weight you will be able to subtract some 210g for the wheel covers so the increase in weight will be about 850g.

At the same time, Daniel is also building a DF-XL with integrated pants.  Several people have made comments on the resemblance of this velomobile with the Quest or the Milan SL.   You be the judge.

A few people reported issues with the base of the DT Swiss Shock in the DF.  The base manages to come loose and the shock gets damaged.  DF users should inspect the shock to ensure the fastener is properly installed and there is no movement of the shock from side to side.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016!

Happy 2016!
This is the end of the year 2015; it was a year full of activities.  For the first time in my velomobile riding history, I was able to ride until December 24th.  Unfortunately, I had issues health and mechanical that kept me from riding for a number of weeks during riding season.  The velomobile is now safely stored for the winter but if I’m lucky, I hope to get back on the road by the end of February.   In the mean time, I will do some skiing if the snow remains on the slopes and ride my road bike on my trainer, which is unfortunately not one of my favorite activities.  I purchased a new TACX Smart trainer and I hope it will make the activity more enjoyable.

In the next few weeks I will try to prepare a retrospective with some analysis.  I expect that 2016 will bring us even more interesting velomobile news to report.

Even with the holidays, there are a number of items to report.  I would like to also take this opportunity to wish all readers my best wishes for the season and a happy New Year.


Michael Beyss recently announced an updated version of the Go-One Evo-Ks for 2016.  Looking at the pictures posted, one may be excused to think it is an IntercityBike DF.  There are many similarities like the top and rear derailleur access hatches.  While the DF and Ks look similar, here is how you may be able to differentiate it because there is no front air intake, the top hatch appears to be slightly more forward and the shell appears to be separate from the bottom.  The new Ks will have a new swingarm and the target weight has been set at 20kg with optional build to 17kg.  Will this prompt a weight reduction program at ICB and at Raderwerk?


Velomobiel recently released more information on the QuattroVelo including the price and options.  Most development work appears to be done and production should start soon.  Several videos show Allert and Eva riding the prototype at several events.  The rear compartment is now fitted with a child seat and windows on the turtle deck.

Meanwhile, velomobiel delivered 7 velomobiles in the past month including 3 Carbon Quest, 1 Quest, 1Quest XS, 1 Strada and 1 Carbon Strada. 
Meanwhile, there were only four including two QuattroVelo velomobiles added to the orderbook,in December and at the end of December,  there were 58 velomobiles on order at Velomobiel.  The backlog is harder to predict at Velomobiel but while Quest and Strada will have a short delivery timeframe of approximately 2 months, QuattroVelos will probably be much longer.  I expect that delivery of QuattroVelo will be approximately one a week when production starts.


Daniel has been busy completing the design and testing the new hood for the Quest/Strada/Mango.  Comments received from testers appear to be favorable, the hood should provide enough room for riding with a helmet; this is an issue when participating in organized events and it is apparently much stiffer than other hoods currently available for these velomobiles and has a unique skylight to better see traffic lights. 

Over the month of December Intercitybike delivered 9 velomobiles 8 DF-Xl and only one DF.  At the same time, the company sold 10 velomobiles for delivery in 2016.  At the end of 2015, there are only 26 velomobiles on the order book.  As a result, I estimate that the backlog is approximately 3 months; this is much shorter than the 9 to 10 months of a year ago. 


Bluevelo is currently the biggest velomobile dealer in North America.  It looks like Bluevelo delivered 6 DF and 4 DF_XL, for a total of 21 velomobiles not including the AAW produced in Toronto from Alligt kits. 

One concern I have is that US customers are starting to purchase directly from ICB and Velomobiel instead of ordering through Bluevelo the North American vendor.  Bluevelo has no velomobiles on order at ICB at this time and only 2 at Velomobiel.  If this is a trend, Bluevelo may not only find itself in a dire position but long term this may leave North American riders in a lurch should Bluevelo become no longer profitable. North American velomobile owners would need to get support directly from Europe.  Clients would need to deal with transportation and importation like custom brokerage. In addition, it provides a place for future customers to test velomobiles and get parts and service.  While this is not new, many have purchased Mangos and WAW directly because there was no importer but if you look at the number of those in North America, there are far less than Quests, Strada, DF.  Long term, I’m concerned that losing this dealer would affect velomobile promotion and penetration North America, many people would not be willing to spend money without trying a velomobile before buying or be willing to deal with importation issues. 

If you are planning to buy directly, please think of the possible consequences not only for you but for all riders and potential clients and possibly overall velomobile penetration on the continent.  I hope Bluevelo continues to flourish and provide the support to our North American community.


This is the time for the annual velomobile gathering, probably one of the largest in the World… after the Pedal Prix Races.   Nonetheless, this winter event has managed to gather close to 100 velomobiles between Christmas and New Years day.  It looks like nice weather provided generally good riding conditions.  There are several videos that were produced by participants.  Here are a few that will give you an appreciation for this event.

You can also check this video that follows the QuattroVelo.