2007/02/10

You Say You Want A Velorution?

Well, you know
We all want to change the world.


(thank you John Lennon and the Velorution cycle shop in London, England)
Aerorider - human powered vehicle from the Netherlands with electric assist.


There is disagreement over what to call these types of machines. Americans seem to prefer HPVs, for "human powered vehicles", while Europeans refer to them as velomobiles. It appears that the latter is winning out, since most of the manufacturers at this time are in Europe.

This is one of my (many) dream machines. It will probably remain just that, because I don't really need one, but I could become a regular Walter Mitty riding this thing.

This particular velomobile is the brainchild of Gjalt Wijma, a student at the Department of aeronautics at University Of Delphof. The design was devolped by a team young professionals and students from various universities working together. Aerorider is owned and managed by its co-founder, Bart de Wert.

Top speed 45 kph (28 mph) Limited to 20 mph in the USA

Range - 20 to 80 km (12-50 miles)
depending on battery packs used

Luggage compartment
Volume*: 120 Liter* (4.2 cubic feet)
* single battery pack

Brakes
Front: hydraulic, discs Magura
Rear (Parking brake): mechanical, drum

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Tell me, Q, which button launches the missiles?


Bicycle
Internal gear hub: 8 speed Shimano Nexus

Steering
System: dual joystick
Radius: 7m

Ventilation
2 Electric ventilators
2 Naca air inlets
2 Removable windows
1 Removable roof panel


But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait.

Adjusting one's lifestyle sure beats going to war over oil, or using the food crops for fuel when food production is dropping, or accelerating climate change.

Price? As the old saying goes - "If you have to ask...." being low volume production, they are very pricey compared to a bike, but still a fraction (if a significant one) of the cost of a car. In most places you'd pay no road fees (it's a bicycle in USA, a moped in Europe). You may need moped type liability insurance there. See the website (click on the photo above). There are dealers in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea, and Belgium. Hmmm, maybe there should be one in Kashima City?

Surf's Up, Dude! Next week, let's tow the kayak to the lake.


As the picture above illustrates, a velomobile makes an eye-catching, head turning "billboard" for advertising a business, in this case a surfboard manufacturer, Boardworks. There is the possibility for velomobile rental businesses coupled with advertising revenue. This has already been done with human powered cabs like the Velotaxi - which also has electric assist - in many cities around the world.

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Will velomobiles change the world? In a word, no. Not by themselves at any rate. But they may well be one of the many technologies we turn to as the parallel critical issues of liquid fossil fuels depletion and climate change force us away from the internal combustion engine.

Besides, they look like a hell of a lot of fun to me.

Don't you know its gonna be alright
Alright Alright

12 comments:

Swinebread said...

Very cool, but I'm going with HPV...

QUASAR9 said...

I like that one with the surgboard on top, but if it is hot enough to surf - does the bike have aircon?

I tell you though in England it would be great for going to su7rf on a Devon Beach on a cold winter day - with your wetsuit on.

nzm said...

Those are awesome vehicles.

Somehow I doubt that the SUV-owning, petrol-burning Dubai residents will take to these until they absolutely have to, but there's probably a big market in Japan just waiting to be tapped!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Europe has had electro-assist bicycles for some time. Mopeds have also apparently had a lot more success there than in the U.S., where they tend to be seen as an admission of geekiness.

When attitude gets in the way of intelligence...

Swinebread said...

Hmmm... HPV could be misunderstood as human papillomavirus. So maybe I'll call them velomobiles after all.

Pandabonium said...

swinebread - I'm not crazy about velomobile, but HPV sounds a bit like some new disease.

quasar9 - aircon? too much energy required for that - it just has vents, removable top.

nzm -

Places like Dubai will not feel the need for a long time, but it will come someday. England's North Sea fields are in decline and they are a net importer now, same with Indonesia, Norway, etc. etc. Mexico's Cantrel field is now down by 1/2 million barrels a day - and its the 2nd largest field in the world. Of course, even if we had an unending supply of the stuff, we wouldn't want to keep burning it because of climate change.

Japan is so dependent on imported oil and gas, they've been pushing for decades for more and more efficiency and alternatives like wind and solar, but it costs a huge amount of money takes time to create meaningful amounts of electricity with those.

Yes, Japan has many cities where these make sense. The velotaxis already operate in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Moody - yes, the've had electric assist bikes in a Japan too, as you well know. I own an American one I bought several years ago, but left it with my daughter in Maui.

What's new is the body to make them a more all weather vehicle.

The downside with mopeds is that most are 2 cycle engines which pollute more. But they build electric mopeds now too.

By the way, regards riding on sidewalks: the National Police Org. or what ever its called has proposed a bill to make it mandatory for bicycles to ride on sidewalks. This is getting heated opposition from cycling groups and safety experts who point to the large number of accidents between pedestrians and bicycles.

Why can't we use common sense and ride where appropriate for the conditions at the time? Oh well.

ladybug said...

There's one big drawback for these things.

The kids and everything that goes w/them (including other kids-their darn friends!).

If I just had myself, or my snabby to see too, I can scale down quite nicely.

But kids, their 500 activities and accoutrements thereof, food and friends, etc., and you've got the reason SUV's, vans and station wagons are still selling.

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - Of course. These are not intended to be a solution for all transportation needs, just for city commuters. Look at all the four (and more) passenger vehicles on the road every single day with just one person in them going to and from work. That's the niche for these.

They also won't work for Americans who have long commutes. Like I said at the end of the article, they are one of many technologies we will look at.

YD said...

The aerodynamic design is nice, I think it will work in countries with good road system. For countries with haphazard traffic, I'm a bit worried with the safety. :-)

Still, I think it's cool! M i a geek?

Pandabonium said...

YD - in a few year's time, there will not be so many cars on the road because of rationing either through allotments or through price. Oil production has been declining since May of 2005, but developing countries like India and China are using more and more oil, this will continue to push prices up and cause shortages. More and more people will carpool, take public transport, walk and bicycle.

Geek? No way.

Don Snabulus said...

You will know we're down the oil curve when McDonald's either gets rid of or starts charging for Happy Meal toys 'cuz that plastic is made from oil.

Nice bikes. I wonder if they cost more than a Xebra EV

Pandabonium said...

Don - Yipes! Stripes! That Zebra is an interesting vehicle. Looking at the front I think they should paint it to look like a tabby cat.

Thanks for the comment.

A velomobile will cost less - but not whole lot depending on make. Of course if they used Brazilian labor.... I don't see velomobiles achieving a big market in the US due to the distances people commute, but Europe is a different story.

The two types of vehicles serve different purposes, so kind of comparing apples and oranges. Of course, electricity has to come from somewhere. Solar is nice, but how many of us can invest in a PV system dedicating so much use to charging a car? (Zap's 150watt panel would need sunshine all week to charge 4.7 kw.) - just random thoughts...

I welcome all of these approaches. If a cool looking velomobile or all electric car gets people's attention and starts them thinking, that is progress.

Ultimately, IMHO, the challenge is to change living patterns to reduce the transportation footprint (since it is such a huge proportion of energy use) rather than simply try to find a way to keep the existing (wasteful) system going. Portland, OR is ahead of most cities in addressing the issues: Portland Peak Oil Task Force