Saturday, February 27, 2016

The little rodent was right

The little rodent was right
Every year in Canada and in the U.S pesky rodents called groundhogs, emerge from their burrows on Feb. 2, to help predict the weather for the coming months.  According to the tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, there will be another six weeks of winter. If it doesn't, that means spring is coming early.  In Canada Wiarton Willie probably is the best-known rodent and Punxsutawney Phil the US equivalent but there are several others.   Well this year Wiarton Willie predicted that there would be 6 more weeks of winter and he appears to be right.  At the time, I had no faith in the prognosticating rodent, at that time we hardly had any snow on the ground and the temperature was relatively mild but I was wrong.  Since the beginning of February we’ve been having snow and widely fluctuating temperatures. Going from deep cold, snow to rainy days then back to cold again. As a result I’ve spent hours making big piles of snow around my property.
Deer feeding in front yard by piles of snow

Maybe Willie was not happy that I did not pay him a visit during the Wiarton Connection 600km brevet I rode last year.  So what does it have to do with velomobiling?  Anyhow this weather is making it virtually impossible to ride and it will not get better for the next couple of weeks.
Wiarton Willie

In the mean time, I am continuing to plan my season; I am ordering parts, performing maintenance and some modifications in preparation for the time when I will be able to ride safely on the roads.

Wim Schermer

Wim posted pictures of Daniel Fenn’s DF with Stormstrips.  When I had my Carbon Quest, I discovered the Stormstrips.  They provided a real improvement when riding in situations where there was a side wind.  The wind pushes the velomobile sideways but the wind over the shell also creates a zone of low pressure on the other side of the shell just like a wing, this low pressure is creating suction on the opposite side therefore increasing the push of the wind.  The Stormstrip breaks the airflow over the shell that creates this low-pressure area therefore eliminating the effect of suction, making it easier and safer to ride in windy conditions.

The problem can be acute at times in a strong side wind on the Quest due to the smooth shape.  When I purchased the DF, people told me that this problem would be virtually gone because the humps would not provide the smooth airflow required to create a strong low pressure.  While the DF is much better than the Quest, it must be helping, Daniel apparently saw an improvement in the handling of the DF.  While the Quest has a single Stormstrip going from nose to tail down the middle, Daniel installed one strip on each of the humps at the front and a single Stormstrip from turtle deck to the tail.
DF With Stormstrips

I wonder how many people will try the Stormstrip on the DF, I think I’ll give it a shot.  For those interested, the Stormstrips are available from Wim’s web store.


This week Trisled launched a new website .  All models from road to track are available.  Looking at site I am surprised to see that a road version of the world speed record velomobile Completely Overzealous 2 is available for sale if you can spare A$16,500 or approximately US$12,000 or €11,000 you can get the new 25kg Overzealous XC.   There are few specifications published but we know that it has a Pinion 18-speed and a 16m turning radius.  I compared the size to the Milan SL and it Overzealous is 30mm shorter, 24mm wider and 65mm lower and it sits 70mm above the ground. I wanted to compare the Trisled velomobile to the Milan RS but the information regarding this model has disappeared from the Milan website.  I wonder how many Overzealous RS will make it to the road.  One thing I’m disappointed that I did not see is the new Coroplast road velomobile kit currently under development.
Completely Overzealous 2

SPEZI 2016

SPEZI is the largest tradeshow where European velomobile manufacturers display their products is coming soon.  The tradeshow is open to the public will take place April 23th and 24th in Germersheim, Germany.  This event provides the opportunity to see and test velomobiles as well as to attend lectures and meet other riders.  SPEZI is not a velomobile specific event; it caters to all types of special cycling vehicles including recumbent bikes, trikes, transporters, etc.

While manufacturers have not made their plans known yet there are some hints of new velomobiles making their appearance.  The following is speculation but it is probably a given that the QuattroVelo will be there, the upgraded version of the Evo-K will probably be there and maybe the elusive Evo-Kx may make an appearance, there is a chance we could also see the Velomo Quad velomobile.  Will Daniel Fenn be ready to show his new DF-XL derived quad velo?  What bout Raderwerk?  They should have the Milan 4.2 but what else do they have?  Of course those are still under development so they may not be available for show.

Over the next few weeks I will try to inform myself of the upcoming appearances and report here.  Unfortunately I will not be able to attend and see those in person.  Maybe I should have started a fund me campaign!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Still shoveling snow

Still shoveling snow
In the past couple of weeks around here the winter weather has gone from one extreme to the next.  We have an El Niño year and the weather is unpredictable.  The temperature goes from the -30s C to +5C overnight, we had large quantities of snow followed by rain then freezing cold again.  Snow is piled up over 2m (6ft) on each side of the road and driveways.  Secondary roads are covered with snow and ice.  I’ve been riding my mountain bike while the DF is parked until the riding conditions improve.  A couple of weeks ago, the snow had mostly melted and I was looking forward to riding on the roads by the end of February but I think it will take a few more weeks as we expect more snow, rain and significant temperature fluctuations over the next week to 10 days.

Well because I can’t ride my velomobile, it does not mean things are not happening in the velomobile world.  Here are some bits of information I collected.


A new line of inner tubes are available that may make changing a tire on IGH equipped velomobiles much easier.  The tubes sold under the name Gaadi is different because it does not require that you remove the wheel to install a new inner tube or repair a hole in the tube.  The tube is split and has two ends, coming out of the box, it looks like a snake with a valve coming out the side.  Once installed in the rim, the tow ends meet to form a perfect circle.

The Gaadi tubes come in 20, 24, 26 and 28in size and are also available with Schrader and Presta valves.  The company does not provide the exact size for the width or ETRO size.  I suspect that it is a universal fit and may only be appropriate for 35 to 50mm tires.  The tubes are also more expensive than other tubes and I have seen big price differences between vendors. they are €12 on the Gaadi website.

This video explains how the tube works.


The two-seater Milan 4.2 is available for testing.  This week one rider wrote about his experience test riding the 4.2 with his little girl.  This rider is larger than average (195cm and size 48 shoes) and was unable to ride with the top on.  His head was above the roll arch and his feet were touching the shell.  In the pictures he posted, his daughter (110cm) in the back appears to be comfortable in the jump seat.  As a Milan GT owner was able to compare the two and indicated that the 4.2 is wider than the GT but no mention of the velomobile weight but the tester indicated that the performance was very good.

People interested have been told that production has started so if this is a velomobile that peaks your interest contact the manufacturer to test or purchase the Milan 4.2.

It is unfortunate that the information on the Milan website is not being kept up to date with regular information on their activities.  The company spent a lot of time and probably resources to build a new website last year but if the information remains static, it does not meet the needs of both the company and potential customers.  For many, a lack of perceived activity on the website is also a reflection, justified or not, on the health of the company.


This week a reader informed me that there was a news update on the Katanga web site.  This is welcomed information because it provides insight into the company recent and future activities. The manufacturer has been fairly quiet in recent months but it looks like they have been busy in the background.  Last year Katanga sold some 46 WAW, the highest number since it’s introduction since 2002.  All the WAW sold last year are the revamped 2014 version but it is important to mote that the WAW is available with many nose and tail configuration changing look and riding properties.  The company is also planning to move into new facilities in the next few months.   Click here for more info.

CabBike - PIMA

In a recent post I mentioned that PIMA was having a sale where CabBike Hawk velomobiles and trailers were on sale for a few weeks.  I went to check the website and it appears that none have been sold.  I am somewhat surprised because the price is very attractive.  Maybe no-one wants to be first, people may be unsure or potential buyers may not like the design.  I’m not sure what it is but it is unfortunate.  Maybe it is worth a second look to save 25%.  Click here for more info

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Four-wheel velomobile and power assist

Four-wheel velomobile and power assist
Quad velomobiles appear to be making a big impact on the velomobile scene.  While the concept is not new, there were four-wheel pedal cars early in the 20th century.  Charles Mochet built a small four-wheeled 'bike'-car that he called it a Velocar.  It was not very efficient or aerodynamic but it was relatively inexpensive and it could take you places with a passenger and bit of luggage.  Apparently there were some 1000 Mochet Velocar produced.  At that time, motorized vehicles were out of reach for many and horses were not practical for urban dwellers, these velocars provided transportation for many.  They disappeared when motorized vehicles were mass-produced and became affordable.  While three-wheel velomobile reappeared in the late 70’s, four-wheel designs were not commercially produced.

Velomobile Designer Miles Kingsbury created the Quattro velomobile.   While other four-wheelers were created in recent times, Miles’ design made the four-wheeler aerodynamically efficient at close to the level of three-wheelers.  The Quattro was no a commercial product and was used by Miles to race and tour.  The Quattro was able to cross the USA during ROAM, keeping up with traditional designs.  A presentation from Miles Kingsbury on his project convinced Allert Jacobs that it was not only possible to build a commercial four-wheel velomobile but that it had certain advantages over traditional three-wheel designs.  In particular, the four-wheel design provides better stability, increased carrying capacity and potentially more safety for rider.  It has a few drawbacks however like increased weight, complexity, cost and potentially less aerodynamic, not to mention it is potentially not considered a bicycle and may, as a result be illegal on the roads.

This week I was made aware of another four-wheel velomobile project (see below).  This is the fourth velomobile project currently and publically underway.  As I reported already, Velomobiel, Alligt and IntercityBike have projects at different stage of development.  Alligt is looking for partners to commercialize the Sunrider Veloquad four-wheel velomobile.

On forums discussions on user requirements for the quads appear to be mostly about the need for electric assistance some people even asking for motors as big as 800W!  A number of others are asking for faster vehicles with additional space, windshield wipers and other things you would find in a motorized vehicle adding a lot of weight, complexity and cost.  It looks like most of these people are looking for a car alternative.  As I have said before, heavy velomobiles with large motors are no longer a human powered vehicle with assistance, but they become nano-cars or at best e-velomobiles.  They will have to meet more stringent regulations and new requirements like seatbelts, additional impact protection and possibly not be able to use the cycling infrastructure.  I have talked about this before in my post last May on the definition of a velomobile

When I see comments on the different forums on the subject of e-velomobiles or nano-cars, I often see comments from people who do not own a velomobile, have never ridden in a velomobile and many times never seen a velomobile up close.  So they are potential customers but if you ask would they pay more for an e-velomobile or nano-car that a standard velomobile, you have many people shy away, others are waiting to see.  The one thing manufacturers have to ask themselves is if these opinions and requiements are those of serious customers or are they those of people who just have a passing interest.

As I’ve said before, I have no problems with people finding a more economical and less polluting transportation.  The issues I have with these vehicles are many.  One of the most important is that some potentially from the outside, in some form e-velomobiles could look like a regular velomobile and it may come a time when police will assume that our velomobiles are not human powered and denied the same rights as bicycles.  This is not far fetched; in many areas e-bikes have been banned from the cycling infrastructure.  Like e-bikes, we may also attract people who have lost their drivers licenses for different offences.  In the long term, this could also taint perception from other cyclists; users of the roadway and the public in general have towards velomobiles.   As a result, human powered velomobile or those with minimal e-assist would face discrimination.  While transforming velomobiles into nano-cars could be a boon for manufacturers who may attract new customers, manufacturers will have to deal with increased scrutiny, e-cars have much more stringent requirements.  Are the manufacturers going to abandon he HPV market or suck the development and production resources for potentially higher number of nano-cars than HPV?  On the longer term, will high-volume producers in Asia come and overtake the new market, driving current manufacturers into bankruptcy leaving HPV riders without manufacturers?

This begs the question: Can we have successful four-wheel velomobiles without electric assist?


Reader Marc S. pointed out that trike and recumbent manufacturer Velomo has also started development of yet another four-wheel velomobile.  Since Velomo is a manufacturer of bikes and trikes, it is not clear to me if this is going to be a shell on frame vs monocoque or self-supporting shell construction.

The quad will apparently provide plenty of room to 30kg Shopping + child seat, a standard support for motor is planned. Part of the new velomobile is probably going to be made from flax fiber.

The Velomo quad will offer the following features:
-Four wheels – the front wheels will have independent front suspension with 5cm wheel travel and a torsion beam rear axle with 8cm wheel travel
-Motor assist
-Storage compartment lockable and waterproof for 52liters and 1,5l water bottle over and above twice as much storage space inside the cockpit
-Max weight to 200kg
-Empty weight significantly below 50kg (with motor)
-complete electrical system including (turn signals, HiLight60 as a front light + high beam, rear light with brake light, audio system (optional), battery monitoring, etc.)
-Motor assist range if only used to climb and when starting - 200km +  
Safety package (optional harness; box beam for side impact protection; crumple zones, front / rear; and a rollbar
-Adjustable ventilation
-optional windshield with wipers (not plastic .. disk can be kept small, so relatively easy)
-optional hard top or soft top (the latter can be rolled up and stowed in the trunk)
-Will accommodate a wide size of riders  with a fully adjustable
-Drivetrain fully enclosed, easy to reach all parts
-Wheels will be easily removable without having to fiddle around with the chain
-Tire size up to 60mm (Then forward with open wheel arches)
- "Eco", because the body will be made of almost 100% renewable raw materials

Cab Bike –Pima

Polish company Pima is holding an important promotion by offering selected products at a serious discount including the Cab-Bike Hawk velomobile. The first ten orders for each of the items on sale will be given a significant promotional discount.  To qualify, the order should be made using the order form available on the company webiste the offer ends March 31, 2016 and it is opened to anyone.  See website for details.

Cab Bike Hawk Classic Velomobile normally priced at €4 970 (tax incl.) is offered at €3 727 (tax incl.) This is a 25% price reduction over the list price! The Egg&Roll and the Taifun Compact trailers are also priced at a significant discount.  It is very rare to see velomobiles sold at promotional prices.

Velomobile Seminar 2015

I would like to find the proceedings on-line to the papers/slides presented at the Velomobile Seminar held last fall.   I did find a few slides here and there but nothing comprehensive.  I think it is sad that the great information that speakers have spent hours to research prepare is not shared widely.  I have not seen any reference to a Seminar in 2016.  If anyone know where the presentations from the 2015 event or has information to share on the next event please post a comment below.

I wish that the organizers of next seminar find a way for participants and presenters to attend on-line making it more accessible and to make it a worldwide event.  I think that using Google Hangout or similar tool would certainly increase participation, exposure and enhance the quality of the information.  I suggest organizers also find a way for participants and presenters to mingle using video links and message boards outside the presentations to help create closer ties between continents.

Laidback Report

Earlier this week velomobile riders Josef Janning, Doug Davis and myself were interviewed for The Laidback Report podcast ( by host Gary Solomon.  The show was dedicated to the world of velomobiles and answered everything you wanted to know about velomobiles.  Don’t worry if you missed the live podcast, you can catch the show on You Tube here:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Early February Update

Early February Update
This week I was noticing that Velomobiel has a number of velomobiles on inventory ready to be sold (see item below).  This is interesting for those riders who want to purchase a velomobile immediately.  So far velomobiles have been mostly sold as a slot in the production.  Many people have complained that they did not want to wait so if clients are informed that they can get one immediately, this may have an impact on velomobile sales.  I am surprised that this is not on Velomobiel’s home page instead of being mentioned in the comments in the order book.  If people know there are new ones available right now, they may make a quick buying decision.

Some larger dealers have already started ordering velomobiles to keep in their showroom.  Some of those have asked for a premium when selling these velomobiles from the showroom and some clients may not be ready for this additional outlay. 

Except for the QuattroVelo that is still in development, we have seen the production backlog get smaller and smaller over the last year (same at ICB).  As a result, the waiting time is about two months for a new velomobile, which is probably the shortest it has been in the past 15 years.  In my estimation the Romanian factory is able to produce significantly more velomobiles than are currently sold at the moment.  This is not to say that new models like the QuattroVelo will have the same short waiting period, there is a significant number on order and the production needs to ramp-up.  I estimate that at first a single set of mold will produce about four QuattroVelo per month so the person who orders today will probably have to wait roughly nine months from the start of production to take delivery.  However, if demand keeps up, I expect that a new set of molds will be produced probably 6 months later, when Allert is satisfied with the design.  This will potentially double the maximum output to 8 velomobiles per month. 

I expect that since Romania may have spare capacity for some models, they can produce for the inventory and maybe some people who had placed orders earlier may have decided to cancel or to change model (e.g.: QuattroVelo) when the velomobile they had ordered was already in production.

I will keep an eye on the production and the inventory over the next few months.


There were only 3 deliveries in January at Velomobiel; one Quest and two Strada velomobiles.  It is normal to see a slow down in the number of deliveries at this time of the year with a lot of staff on vacation.  In addition, I expect that significant resources at the Romanian factory have also been used to produce other components such as the molds for the QuattroVelo .  You can already see in the first week of February that things are picking-up.

In January Velomobiel sold 11 velomobiles including one Quest. Two Carbon Quest, one Carbon XS, two Strada and five QuattoVelo and there were 65 velomobiles on order at the end of January but it appears that five of those are in fact in stock and available for immediate sale (three Strada, a Carbon Quest and a Quest). 

This is interesting for those riders who want to purchase a velomobile immediately.  So far velomobiles have been mostly sold as a slot in the production.  Many people have complained that they did not want to wait so if clients are informed that they can get one immediately, this may have an impact on velomobile sales.  Some dealers have asked for a premium for velomobiles purchased from the showroom so clients may not be ready for this outlay.  Except for the QuattroVelo that is still in development, we have seen the production backlog get smaller and smaller over the last year (same at ICB).  As a result, the waiting time is about two months for a new velomobile which is probably the shortest it has been in the past 15 years.  In my estimation the Romanian factory is able to produce significantly more velomobiles than are currently sold at the moment.  I will keep an eye on this over the next few months.


Over the past few weeks, there were rumours that Daniel is going to build a four-wheel velomobile.  This week Daniel posted on-line that the project was underway but there has been no official announcement.  I think that ICB identified that there is a demand for a 4-wheel product.  This is not surprising since Velomobiel has some 45 on order and many people are waiting to see the product on the road and maybe test drive the production model before making a commitment.  I expect that the ICB design may be sportier and performance driven than the QuattroVelo, Daniel said that it will be about the size of the DF-XL.  My guess is that the ICB model will be lighter with more composite components and probably a bit more streamlined while still providing more stability and increased payload capacity over the three-wheel DF.

This increases my concerns regarding the grey area of legality in many jurisdictions where bicycles are defined as having two or three wheels and getting all these rules updated may take a long time.  In the mean time, pioneers may have to deal with authorities to get the right to ride their four-wheel bicycle on the road.  There is no velomobile club or industry association to lobby officials for the change.

Meanwhile at ICB, only 2 DF were delivered in January.  Since they produce in the same factory as Velomobiel, my observations above are similar but I will also add that the factory has bee busy filling-out orders for DF hoods and is also gearing-up to produce ICB designed hoods for the Quest/Strada and Mango as well as the new wheel pants for the DF/DF-XL/Evo-K, Ks, R.  Just like Velomobiel, the first week of February is showing an increase in deliveries.

At the end of January there were 19 DF and 16 DF-XL for a total of 35 units on order.  Sales in January included 5 DF and 5 DF-XL.


Following my report last I received an e-mail from Randy at Bluevelo and I posted the response in the comments and some of you may not have returned to read the comments so here it is.

"We at Bluevelo are extremely touched by all the wonderful replies in response to the recent news on Luc's blog and BROL. What a great group of people. You never cease to amaze us. Our hope is to keep everyone positive and excited about the future of the sport.
The last thing we would want is for any kind of "us vs them" attitude to develop towards the Netherland companies. That is certainly not the case and there are no ill feelings about the way things have gone. Our relationships with everyone in Europe over so many years have been amazing. A "sign of the times" hits the nail on the head for the direction things have taken. Let's keep working together as preserving the positive energy of the N. American velomobile community and continued growth of the industry should be top priority for all."

Laidback Report

Just a reminder, On Sunday February 7th at 3PM EST, the video podcast The Laidback Report ( will be dedicated to the world of velomobiles.  Velomobilre riders Josef Janning, Doug Davis, Lars Komm and myself will answer questions from host Gary Solomon will to initiate new people to the world of velomobiles.  Don’t worry if you missed the live podcast, you can catch the show on You Tube here

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hood Received

Hood Received
I recently received my hood for the DF.  Unfortunately I cannot ride at the moment but I tried the hood on my velomobile inside the house.  The new hood has the Pinlock double lens visor that reduces fogging due to the temperature difference between inside the cockpit and the outside air.  I brought the velomobile inside to make a few adjustments, modifications and maintenance before I start riding in a few weeks, maybe sooner if the weather cooperates.  The hood fits well and I sat inside the velomobile with my helmet and I’m happy to report that I’m able to sit comfortably and turn my head with the helmet on.  Now I will have to ride a bit to see if I can ride comfortably over long distances. 

One of the things I would like to address with the DF is the front access hatch.  Having to remove 10 screws to open the hatch is time consuming, tedious and one has to be careful of not losing the very small screws.  In case of emergency, the hatch would also provide the recue squad access to detach my feet from the pedals.  Since they are most probably not carrying a set of Allen keys, they would probably have to cut a hole in the velomobile.  I would like to find an alternative that would use no tools to access or at most require a regular size straight blade screwdriver and take much less time to remove. 

My concept would be to have tabs on the cover to slide under the shell to hold the cover and have a few ¼ turn fasteners to ensure it does not move.  I have made a crude prototype using home made metal tabs.  I think it would work but it should be designed as part of the cover.


You will remember that I mention the issue of North American people buying their velomobiles directly from the Netherlands.  Today Randy informed me that Bluevelo will no longer import velomobiles from Velomobiel and ICB to the US.  There are several reasons for this including the currency situation, the additional transportation and the willingness of the manufacturers to sell directly in North America.  As a result, it no longer makes the operations viable.  Bluevelo will continue to support users and import velomobiles for the Canadian market but those interested in buying a Dutch velomobile will have to order directly. 

I am sad to report this news since Bluevelo has been providing great service to North American velonauts.  It is also unfortunate that some people did not realize that their decisions to order directly and for the manufacturers to bypass their long time dealer in order to accommodate clients.  This will have, in my opinion, long-term consequences on the velomobile market in North America.  With no territory agreement, it will be hard for someone in North America to make a living off this business.

Trump Trikes
Trumps trike is showing the new F1 Coroplast velomobile that the company will offer this year.  The pictures show impressive Coroplast design skills.


Allert provided a long update on the QuattroVelo on the Velomobiel Blog. He made several changes in the design of internal parts.  At this point he is also designing small internal components.  I think the Quattrovelo is probably one of the most complex velomobiles to be put into production, as a result, there is a steep learning curve and I expect it will be significantly more resource intensive to produce the new velomobile.  


The first pre-production “everyday” wheel pants are now in use by a DF owner in Germany and he reports significant speed gain.  There are some questions on the use of adhesive tape to hold the pants in place because the tape has to be removed to access the wheels to repair a flat tire.  Would there be a better solution, some suggested screws and Velcro.  My solution would be to use a few fasteners inside the wheel wells with built-in tabs on the inside at the top of the wheel pants to hold the pants secure against the side of the velomobile and have a similar bungee system to the ones used on the hood to secure the pants under the shell.  To install the pants you would slip it under the wheel into the slot then push the pants up so the tabs go behind the fasteners then you pull the bungee fasteners and secure under the shell.  The pants can be used with regular wheels but narrow dished-in wheels provide a better turning radius.

Daniel commented that a three-wheel with closed wheel arches is not in the cards; other manufacturers already offer them.   The first production pants should be available in approximately 2 months and the price has been set at €525+VAT.

Laidback Report

On Sunday February 7th at 3PM EST, the video podcast The Laidback Report  will be dedicated to the world of velomobiles.  Velomobile riders Josef Janning, Doug Davis, Lars Komm and myself will answer questions from host Gary Solomon  to initiate interested people to the world of velomobiles.  Viewers will have an opportunity to send in questions.  Don’t worry if you missed the live podcast, you can catch the show on You Tube here.