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Electric Velomobiles: Urban Transportation For the Future, Available Now 201

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Low-Tech Magazine: "Both the velomobile and the electric bicycle increase the limited range of the cyclist — the former optimises aerodynamics and ergonomics, while the latter assists muscle power with an electric motor fuelled by a battery. The electric velomobile combines both approaches, and so maximises the range of the cyclist — so much so that it is able to replace most, if not all, automobile trips. A quarter of the existent wind turbines in the U.S. would suffice to power as many electric velomobiles as there are Americans." One thing I wish was included in the article — worth reading for the photos alone! — is a chart with prices and worldwide availability for more of the vehicles mentioned. They do mention, though, that the eWAW ("the Ferrari of the velomobiles") costs 7790 Euro.
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Electric Velomobiles: Urban Transportation For the Future, Available Now

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  • Cycle tracks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hack slash ( 1064002 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @12:31AM (#41870157)
    One of the places a velomobile would legally allowed to go but access (especially here in the UK) would often make it impossible to enter, which is why I really like my electric bike as it will happily go on roads and cycle tracks without fuss. But I wish the councils would fix the roads, pot holes are a bane (and sometimes danger) to the cyclist.
  • 25 miles per hour (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @12:34AM (#41870169) Homepage

    The headline says "Fast and Comfortable as Automobiles" but later in the text it says "Over a period of about an hour and a half, Brecht and I managed to reach an average speed of 40 km/h (25 mph)" and "my attempt to go any faster than 50 km/h (30 mph) left me frustrated -- the vehicle lacks the high gears needed for those speeds" (and the article goes on to note that the electric motor cuts out entirely at that speed; it's entirely pedal powered.)
    I wouldn't call "able to reach average speeds of 25 miles per hour" to be "fast as automobiles."

  • by sapphire wyvern ( 1153271 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @12:38AM (#41870181)

    Interesting article.

    However, I think the big problem for these is safety, particularly if you must share the road with cars, trucks and busses. Even for a very fit driver, 50 km/h seems to be a high speed, which is significantly lower than general road traffic in Australia. Combine that with the extremely low profile... let's just say that the odds of getting caught dead in one of these seem a little high for my comfort.

    Now, in cities with excellent bike networks, that wouldn't be such an issue - IF the vehicle actually meets the legal requirements for use on bike paths. I'm not sure whether these would be allowed on the bike network in my city. If I had to guess, I'd say the purely muscle powered ones probably are, but I am honestly unsure about the electric/muscle hybrids.

    I don't think I'd pay 8000 euros, but if there is one available for, say, 1000 euros, I think I would be interested. You'd want to have somewhere to keep it locked up and safe, though.

  • Re:one problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @01:28AM (#41870373)
    What they look like is not a problem, what is the problem is they cost as much as a k-car (sub 600cc) in Japan. And a k-car nowadays is exactly like a real car if you obey the traffic rules. So I can't really see a reason on buy one of these.
  • Re:one problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @02:05AM (#41870499)

    This would only be close to true if you limit your car usage to match what you use the "velomobile" (whatever that is) for.

    I have an two-seat enclosed recumbent bicycle, which ought to be pretty close to a "velomobile". The bike is a good replacement for a short leisure trip, but not for much else. Shopping, especially weekly shopping, longer trips, trips with more than one person and a half, trips in bad weather, etc. are all much easier and much more pleasant in the car.

    So, forgive me, but I feel you're stretching it quite a bit.

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @03:13AM (#41870727)

    ...if air conditioning was an option. Seriously. I couldn't imagine being couped up in one of these things on a 100F day. Or pedaling one to work on a muggy 80F morning. That's the main reason I don't ride a bike to work (a couple miles away): Summer mornings are nasty hot, and I simply can't show up to work dripping in sweat as there is no shower.

    Give them some climate control, then you might see more adoption.

  • Re:Sorry, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @04:29AM (#41870935) Homepage
    And like the C5 - and the Segway - its few devotees will continue to claim that the problems will be dealt with by re-designing entire cities in order to facilitate their particular mode of transport. Meanwhile - oh, hang on, the doorbell just rang. It's Alyson Hannigan, she's decided to finally accept one of those 200 indecent propositions that I send her every day!
  • Re:Cycle tracks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @04:49AM (#41871037) Homepage

    And if you ride a decent full suspension MTB, anywhere but potholes, it quickly becomes a chore because of all the energy you're losing pumping into the springs and those fat tyres. Yes, I've tried it.

    Look, I pedal to work on the few days a year when it seems likely that I won't arrive drenched in either rain, sweat or blood, but let's not pretend that it's a realistic transport panacea.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @04:52AM (#41871055) Journal

    You've obviously never even been moderately fit. If you're only moderately fit, even an hour on a bicycle won't leave your limbs shaking. That only happens when you're unfit.

    Also women can ride bicycles very long distances at pretty impressive speeds. It happens all the time outside of the USA. Since this thing is supposed to reduce the effort of cycling, it should make it more accessable to anyone not super-fit.

  • Re:Cycle tracks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:35AM (#41871627) Homepage Journal

    You can fix the tire problem by running hybrids, like armadillos. You can fix the suspension problem by buying a shock with a stop that can be fixed. Then the only problem is the extra ten pounds of bike you're lugging around that could have been a street bike. Thing is, IMO street biking is solely for people who don't care if they die excessively sooner than necessary. And an enclosure that isn't a crash cell only makes the experience more dangerous by severely limiting your mobility. In the worst case I can fling myself off of my bicycle, possibly off of an embankment, to avoid a car, if one should try to run me down on one of the fire roads I occasionally have to use between trails. If I were sitting down in a plastic cocoon all I could do would be to pedal hard, steer for the embankment, and hope that I slide into a tree soon rather than down the hill forever.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:40AM (#41871653) Homepage Journal

    Yes, they are pretty bad. I used to have a bicycle with a mirror, and I rarely could see anything in that mirror because it vibrated too much.

    The mirror goes on your helmet. This not only makes it seem larger, but it protects it from vibration the same way your head is protected from vibration, by your body.

Variables don't; constants aren't.