We all have activities we enjoy. For some it’s hiking, for others it’s walking or swimming and for some it’s biking. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could incorporate our love of an activity into our everyday lives. A velomobile seems to fit that niche. Velomobiles are enclosed recumbent bicycles of monocoque construction. That means the “shell or fairings” are actually the structure of the bike. All the drive units, seats and wheels are attached to the shell rather than a bike frame.
Because the Velomobiles are aerodynamic they offer less wind resistance when biking. The faster one goes the bigger the advantage. They are somewhat heavy (about 60-110 lbs) so don’t do well going up hills and starting off at stop signs. At speed they are 20-30% more efficient than a racing bike. Sometimes riders add electric assist to help them “flatten out the hills” or just plain go faster. Because they are enclosed they are all weather vehicles, meaning they can be ridden year round.
Velomobiles are common in Europe but not in California. Americans love our cars and our cities are more spread out and less bike friendly than many other countries. The velomobiles in the photo are made by a company called Bluevelo in Toronto Canada. This is their own design but they are also licensed to make other models. These have 1000 watt electric assist motors and integrated front drive gearing called Schlumpf drives. They can go about 27-30mph on level group and much faster downhill. Because the electric drive can propel them past 20mph without peddling they need to be registered as a class A electric bikes. That means to ride them one must be over 16 years of age and have a moped or motorcycle license. A DOT approved helmut must also be worn.
These velomobiles are used as local commuters. In part they are one way to go green and stay healthy. If your wondering riding them is also just a lot of fun. In fact here is a video of Mrs. Evans riding her velomobile.