Hybrid velomobile - a formula for success?

What happens when one combines a fast and sporty velomobile like a Waw with the advanced electrical assist/generator like a BionX? Do they reinforce eachothers advantages or their disadvantages? Find out my and others experiences here. If you do not know what a velomobile or an electric assist is, check out the links first. (An electrical assist that helps up to only 25km/h and with power limited to 250W, remains a bicycle by EU law)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Calle’s impression on test riding a hybrid velomobile

Finally some new stuff on this blog! Also redid the lay-out, hope it is a better read now (I learn!)

Calle contacted me because he was intrested in the BionX. We met, had an interesting talk and he did a test drive. He liked the BionX, but I was just as interested on how this unexpected and unintended meeting with a velomobile was for him. So I asked him to write a short report on how he experienced this for him very new vehicle concept, as it was the first time he saw anything like it.
So here comes his short report (translated from Swedish):

Here is my impression of the approx. 20 minute testride with the velomobile Waw001.

Getting into the vehicle did not give any bigger problems other than the fact that I am a bit unaccustomed. Perhaps I should add that I am a reasonable flexible person. Once inside the velomobile one sits comfortably and well protected from the outside elements and one quickly warms. To ride off with the combination is easier than I had imagined, but it would have been even easier with a few more gears, than the seven gears this Waw is equipped with.

I get the feeling I am sitting in a very well-constructed soapbox racer and it is a wonderful feeling to ‘whoosh’ along so close to the ground. The cycling road where I am test riding is pretty hilly and there is a short but very steep slope. With some speed before the slope it is easy to get onto it, but when I try from a standstill it gets harder, which largely is because I start with a much too high gear. But the only thing I can compare with is my own electric assited “Powabyke” (red.: an electric bicycle with the electric engine in the front hub), which would have started much easier using a heavy gear. But I think this is because the BionX assist, which the Waw is equipped with, works in a completely different way than the “Powabyke” assist. The BionX amplifies the riders own effort while the Powabyke is controlled by a gashandle and gives full power as soon as you put your foot on one of the pedals.

On the straights it is easy to accelerate to 30km/h, despite the fact that I am too short for this Waw and I have to overstretch my legs to reach the pedals. After some more riding we end up riding on a small forest path and here the Waw manages surprisingly well, even if occasionally the ride gets very bumpy.

A disadvantage I think of only afterwards is that the body acts as a sound amplifier, which in the long run is experienced as noisy. And then one misses out on one of the big advantages of transporting oneself with (electric-assisted) human power – the complete silence. But this side effect I believe can be diminished considerably with noise damping measures. Finally, I want to point out the great driving pleasure I experienced with the Waw and that it feels like a very smart way to transport oneself. A vehicle that has the future in its favour without a doubt!

Calle Arnberg 10-08-2005


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