Velomobile ride videos

Just some velomobile videos I found on Youtube. (Since the site was loading a bit sluggish with 10 videos, so I’ve set the blog post to Gallery and you have to visit the posting to see the them)

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damaged Bafang CST

The 250W Bafang CST geared hub motor in the Milan gave-up a bit prematurely. Well it didn’t actually give-up completely, but the freewheel clutch of the internal planetary gear seized-up after being in use for close to 3,500km.

To my amazement, the Nylon planetary gears of the Bafang CST still looked quiet pristine, though. I tried a small 250W Bafang SWXH in the Milan, but its smaller planetary gears shredded after a mere 1,800km. It most likely didn’t get enough cooling inside the wheel well of the velomobile. Hence, I went with the bigger CST and its sturdier planetary gears.

The seized clutch is no big deal, since a spare part cost €39 and its an easy job to swap. While the seized clutch was undeniably inconvenient (but not unexpected), I wanted to change the mounted, slow, Marathon GT 365 tires anyway and had a spare clutch from the old CST already at hand.

This is a picture of my old Bafang CST:

My guess, the clutch isn’t lubricated well enough to deal with regularly freewheeling at high speed in a velomobile. In the past, I’ve set-up a Bafang CST for oil lubrication, to prevent a seized-up freewheel clutch, but didn’t want to mess with oil inside the shell of a velomobile this time. Lets see how long it takes till the next clutch seizes-up. Maybe I’ll have to use oil lubrication after all, or just go for a much sturdier direct drive hub motor*.

This is a picture of a Bafang CST freewheel clutch without side cover:

Anyway, I was expecting some longevity problems if a stock geared hub motor is pressed into service in a fast velomobile and ordered two 250W Bafang CST from the start. It allows me to change the hub motors quickly and gives me time to order spare parts if needed.

It also allowed me to lace one hub motor in a 559 (26″) rim, while the other is laced in a 584 (650b/27,5″) rim. Unfortunately, in recent years most tire manufacturers jumped on the 27,5″ bandwagon and discontinued some rather good tires in 26″ size. New tires (like the Schwalbe G-One line, or the GP 5000) are almost exclusively offered in 700c and 650b. Good, fast, narrow to medium wide 26″ tires are getting kind of scarce.

The 26″ wheel is my designated “winter wheel” usually shod with some wide touring tire (Big Ben, Marathon GT 365) or potentially a studded Marathon Winter if the streets get icy. Fortunately, snow and ice didn’t happened around here, yet.

The Bafang CST in the 584/650b wheel can be shod with a quick tire (G-One Allround, G-One Speed, or the fast Conti GP 5000 come to mind) for longer tours. I’ve used a cheap G-One Allround 35-584 Performance past Summer and was quite pleased with the tire. It offered pretty good grip, even in rain, but the tread was all but gone after 1,900km, though. Its currently used in the velomobile and even without thread, the grip is still pretty good. I’ve already got a new G-One Allround Evo in 40-584 size as replacement.

The Bafang CST got the spare clutch installed, the 50-559 Marathon GT 365 swapped for a 50-559 Big Ben and is ready to go back into the Milan. A new spare clutch arrived as well.

*the Phaserunner motor controller can be programmed to permanently drive a direct drive hub motor with 10-15W to compensate for the unavoidable cogging effect. If set to regenerative braking, the gain in harvested power more than make-up for the small power drain of this setting. I’ve already got a Grin Tech edition MXUS 300xRC at hand if needed, but couldn’t decide about the rim size yet.

Update 4. February
Well, that motor swap didn’t work out too swimmingly. After just 430km (2,300km total run time) the freewheel clutch in the second Bafang CST starts to seize-up as well. Guess tomorrow I’ll squirt 15ml ATF into the motor and see if this cures the clutch behavior.

Why only 15ml ATF? Well, if the motor rests, the oil level is high enough to submerge 8-10 teeth of the ring gear (I checked!), but too low to reach the coil of the stator.
When the motor runs, the planetary gears will transport the oil to the sun gear, where its squeezed to the sides and wet the little recess at the center of the clutch body. Capillary forces should do the rest to distribute the oil between the clutch body and the riveted side covers to the clutch rollers inside.

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Velomobile basic knowledge (THE Velomobile FAQ)

Christoph Moder in Germany wrote an extensive essay about velomobiles. Its still work in progress, but at currently 128 pages you find answers to almost anything you never dared to ask and its very well written. Arguably one of the best (if not the best) “Velomobile FAQ” article I’ve encountered so far. This is Christoph’s thread in the German velomobile forum

This is Christoph’s Essay: Velomobil Grundwissen

The essay is (obviously) written in German, but Google Translate seems to do a pretty good job translating the text to English:
Velomobile basic knowledge essay in English via Google Translate
(you can change the Google translation to a language of you preference, of course)

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Begorett Velomobile Prototype

While I was rather dismissive in my blog post from 2015 about the Begorett velomobile, it seems they took their time and came quite a long way since then.

From the looks of it, the Begorett design might even be more practical than the Scheffler Bio-Hybrid, the Podbike, or the Eurocircuit Quadvelo. Much better looking too!

Since Begorett recently started to build a prototype, I’m pretty sure they might change a thing or two, though. The huge angled visor will be a problem in rain (especially at night!) Riding 7,500km in the Milan taught me a thing or two about visors. The rear disk brakes seem awfully exposed to water and dirt flung at them from the front wheels, as well.


the Begorett prototybe

They might also find out, that its just a bit too wide (they initially stated an overall width of 1.08m in 2015) to be practical when riding on a bike path.
I’m also not sure how they want to fit a 7″ touch screen display inside (like stated here). There is simply no physical space available for a big display in a velomobile.

Anyway, I wish them well and hope they get production-ready in the near future. If I find myself riding around in Catalonia with my Milan, I will definitely try to visit them in Reus (near Tarragona). According to Google Maps it would be a 2,001km ride, though. :))

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Jahresbeginntour 2020

Benno invited us for the “Year beginning tour” to the nice Il Lago restaurant in Bremen.

We met again at his place, where velomobiles where already piling-up in his front yard when I arrived. Since I still didn’t figured-out to master my “new” Garmin eTrex, I missed the last turn, got lost in the boonies and circled around between the fields just one or two kilometers from his place.

Since Romain had to come without his Milan SL from Hamburg (it didn’t fit into his car), Henning from Velomobil.net lend him his Milan SL MK5 for the tour.

Velomobiles in the boonies. It was raining for several days before and we weren’t the only people on these little streets between the fields who enjoyed the nice weather. We met several groups with hand carts filled with beverages (most likely the “spirituous” kind), who enthusiastically cheered at us.

Convenience break. I stupidly didn’t take the chance and barely made it to the restaurant.

Benjamin in his Milan and his wife in her Leiba Classic

I’ve never seen a Leiba Classic in person before. It looks quite cute!

Velomobiles on the road. Almost all drivers where very patient and courteous. Only one SUV driver insisted to become the jerk of the day by overtaking on a narrow street and driving slowly into the oncoming traffic. Nothing happened, though.

The pier at the Il Lago was filled with two dozen velomobiles and one lowracer. On display where several Mango, Strada, Quest, Quattrovelo, DF, a Leiba Classic and a Alleweder A4.

Half the velomobiles where a wide range of Milan versions. Probably every version from an early Milan from 2007, to the newest Milan SL Mk5 and Henning’s 3 week old GT Mk5.

Second half of the tour back to Benno’s place

While the tour was just 57km long, including the ride to Bremen and back to Hamburg, I’ve traveled 276,1km at a 39,1km/h average that day.

Like always, lots of thumbs-up and co-drivers taking photos. Only two or three cars overtook a bit too close for comfort and an irritated DHL driver honked as he passed by.
I lost him when he drove his dirty DHL-truck at nearly 60km/h through a 30km/h zone.

There is now even an article on the website of the local newspaper about our little tour: Wetterfest – Velomobilfahrer treffen sich in Bassen – Von Tobias Woelki

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Trice 26″ rear frame for sale

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I’ve got a quite rare, unused, Trice 26″ rear frame for sale. Made from Columbus CroMo steel tubes and green-metallic powder coat. It will fit in Trice/ICE Trikes models up to 2006. Like the Trice XL, Trice XXL, Trice Mini, … Continue reading

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Velomobile Tour Amelinghausen

Today we did a little tour with five velomobiles to Amelinghausen to eat some cake.

Four of us met in Harburg and on the way we picked-up Jörn with his DF

Olli’s Mango had some trouble with a few loose screws at the front suspension. Hence, we stopped and did a little roadside repair session.

While at it, we changed a worn tire. Quite amazing how many tools, tubes and spare tires five velomobile riders have between them. The new Fumpa pump came-in real handy

Jörn checked toe-in and since the wheels where misaligned ‘slightly’ (8mm toe-out!) it got corrected as well. No wonder poor Olli nearly killed himself by keeping-up with his Mango.

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Police stop (the 3rd)

Today, I had my third police stop near Wandsbek Markt.

I waited in a small one-way street at a traffic light, when a police officer approached from the side, asked me to step-out and park the velomobile at the curb to answer a few questions. I complied and was suddenly surrounded by half a dozen friendly officers.

The officer in charge, a few years older than me, spoke with a heavy Hamburgian accent (you don’t hear that local accent very often in Hamburg anymore. As a born Hamburgian, it reminded me of my childhood and gave me kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling). Very correctly and with very particular questions, he inquired about the velomobile and its legal status.

After answering to his satisfaction, we started to chat a bit. He told me, a few weeks back he had seen the velomobile, turned his patrol car and tried to catch me, but I was already gone. When I told him that the encounter was just two kilometers from my home, the street heads a bit downwards and I usually break the 50km/h speed limit by a good margin to catch the next traffic light, he smiled. He was fully aware, that the 50km/h city speed limit doesn’t apply to cycles*. A few photos later, the officers wished me a safe journey and off I went.

Looks like I don’t have to visit the local police station, to introduce that strange, new vehicle in their district.

*thats right! According to §3 STVO (German road traffic law), the mandatory speed limit of 50km/h inside city limits only applies to motor vehicles. Since a cycle is explicitly defined as a vehicle by the STVO, in Germany you can go as fast as you please** in a velomobile. Sometimes you just have to love legalese!
**well, sort of. Obviously the cops can still charge you with reckless driving if you drive too fast for the traffic situation at hand.

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Flevo in Lübeck

Went to Lübeck today, to visit Flevo and buy a Velomobile cover made by Radical Design.
Radical also manufactures the very practical velomobile bags. Highly recommended!

I’ve heard before, that the Flevo shop is a bit hidden. No kidding!

You can only see the Flevo shop, if you stand right in front of it.

The little back yard, in the middle of these centuries old houses, is absolutely adorable.

On the way back, I came in a rain shower. Despite regularly using some anti-fog, the Milan visor fogged-up within minutes and I had to take a break at a farm shop.

The farm is quite famous around here, since they grow their red potatoes on trees

Anyway, while the Radical cover is actually custom made for the WAW velomobile, it just fits the Milan GT as well. Its a bit loose at the front of the nose, though.

The Milan is still shod with Marathon GT 365. While their grip on wet roads is absolutely stunning (I can break hard at any speed in rain), they are kind of slow.
The Milan consumed roughly 30% more energy on this trip (125km with a 40.3km/h average) than I’m used to (a whopping 9.9Wh/km instead of 6-7Wh/km*) and the battery ran dry two kilometers from home. Tomorrow the quicker Maxxis DTH go back on the front wheels and the GT 365 will be used for winter commuting.

*both figures include some city traffic. The stop-and-go between traffic lights easily doubles or even triples the overall consumption figures, compared to the actual consumption figures on flat, open country roads (3-4Wh/km).

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Velomobileworld Alpha 7

Jan Wijnen from Velomobiel.Ro posted a really nice video about the Alpha 7 production.

More about the Alpha 7 velomobile at velomobileworld.com

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