Its Autum and the weather gets cold and rainy again. Naturally the time of year I think about velomobiles and check second-hand offerings.
Since I’ve rolled my trike a couple of weeks ago, when the rear wheel slipped going slightly too fast around a corner in rain, the greater stability of four-wheeled velomobiles looks a lot more interesting at the moment. Couriously, there is currently some development of four-wheelers going-on among velomobile manufacturers.
Velomobiel.nl recently got a working prototype of the new Quattrovelo on its wheels. They also made a blog post about advantages of four-wheelers compared to three-wheelers and pretty much documented the entire design and building process in their blog.
‘Ugly duckling’ comes to mind. At 60kg curb weight a pretty overweight ugly duckling.
A visually far more interesting approach came from Begorett. Unfortunately an other pretty design study that will most likely never hit the road. Judging by their website, they are most concerned with ‘cycling safety’ and envisioned a crash-proof electric mini car with pedals, rather than a light-weight human-powered velomobile with electric assist.
More about it here: Begorett Velomobile and Begorett Velomobile Prototype
Since currently I don’t have the funds to order a Quattrovelo (basic price €7500) and regularly stumble over DIY-velomobile threads in the German Velomobil-Forum and BentRider, I’m considering to build a faired four-wheeler myself.
Something roughly looking like the Begorett velomobile (less pretty for sure). The chassis made from film coated plywood panels, with big entry hatch (like the Orca), wide 24″ wheels, no suspension and rear wheel drive. A direct drive hub motor with a cog mouted to the brake disk mount that drives a central drive shaft with a short chain would make the whole human power/electric assist drive design fairly simple and relatively cheap. Two freewheels at either end of the central drive shaft would drive cogs at the wheel hubs by a short chain.
I’ve build a set of 24″ wheels with wide downhill rims and disk brake hubs a couple of month ago, but newer used them. Some hub disk cogs from VeloSolo mounted aside the brake disk with a couple of spacer’s and the rear wheels are ready to go. A 160mm or 180mm brake disk should work to clear the Avid BB7 calipers off the 22tooth cogs. The 24″ front wheels with 90mm Sturmey Archer drum brake hubs and matching rims, currently used in the Blue ICE, could go to the front.
The KingCycle nose cone from Ebay, like the one on my black Sprint, could be used as the front fairing, but might need a little trimming. Light weight but stiff Con-Pearl panels should work for the hatch and coachwork.
Without owning a garage I’ve got some size constrains, though. It has to fit through a 80cm wide door and might have to rest standing on its rear end though the night.
Some rough weight estimates gave the impression it might weight under 50kg without battery. Well, perhaps…
While 50-60kg would be fairly heavy for a human-powered velomobile, it should be sufficient for an electric assisted test mule. If the design works, the film coated plywood could be supplanted by featherweight and super strong (but rather expensive) carbon fiber honeycomb panels in an updated MkII version.