Non-Motorized, Human Powered

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By SBpat

[Last week], while driving down Modoc Road, a “non-motorized, human powered” (according to its graphics) vehicle whizzed down the bike lane.  It turned onto Hollister, heading west, where I was able to snap a couple of (crummy) photos.  It is so darn cute.  I’d love to know more about it if anyone can share any information.  My wife says she’s seen a white one, too.

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Thomas John Nov 23, 2021 12:34 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

It's an enclosed recumbent bike. I think the owner has two similar ones. He's often zipping along the bike path out towards Goleta Beach. I bet it was a neat project to put together. Hopefully, someone knows more and can fill us all in a little more.

patrick Nov 23, 2021 08:21 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

It’s a trike, not a bike, but it’s pretty cool. I hope to see it around again.

MarcelK Nov 24, 2021 07:20 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Someone intelligent might have said that with tongue in cheek, but GOML is serious.

Henry Sarria Nov 23, 2021 09:55 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Yeah, seen this guy rollin' around on the bikepath by Goleta Beach before. I think there's a few in town, saw an orange 1 on Los Carneros just recently.
Cool machines, but I gotta add, not a lot of visibility out of or on those, low to the ground, hard to see in a high profile vehicle & limited view from the cockpit.
Still, as an engineer, I gotta say it's cool & if it gets somebody out there pedalin' a bike, extra added + in my humble opinion. Personally, as an avid cyclist, nope, not for me, but it's got my respect.

michaelb Nov 24, 2021 12:58 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

I'm the guy driving this goofy pedal car. I'll try to answer your questions...

What is it?
- It's called a velomobile. The brand name of this one is an IntercityBike DF, from the Netherlands. It is considered a bicycle according to California law. It's actually a tricycle with 2 wheels up front and 1 in the back. It's made of carbon fiber and uses bicycle components. It has a monocoque chassis with full suspension. It has no motor.

- How many are there in Santa Barbara?
There are 3. I have 2. The blue one above and an all white one. The white velomobile is a Milan SL built by Velomobile.CA in Canada. The orange one mentioned in one of the comments belongs to a friend in Goleta. It is also an IntercityBike velomobile but it is the slightly larger DFXL model.

- Where do I ride them?
I do ride (at bicycle speeds) on the bike path on my way to Cathedral Oaks or Goleta Beach. My favorite place to ride is PCH from Rincon down to Ventura and back. Velomobiles like being ridden on flat or rolling hill rides with few intersections or signals. You won't see me climbing Gibraltar in one. Velomobiles can weigh anywhere from 45 to 75 lbs so they are not great for climbing.

- How fast do they go?
These are quite fast. A friend of mine clocked 55mph in his IntercityBike DF at the last Battle Mountain Land Speed trials. I’m not nearly that fast. On the open flat road, such as PCH, I can maintain high 20s to low 30s (mph) speeds. On the bike path, I keep it down to normal bike speeds in order to respect the safety of kids, other riders, joggers and dog walkers.

- Are they safe?
With the side windows and rear view mirrors, the outward visibility is actually quite good. As for being seen… Judging by their reactions and cell phone cameras pointing at me, drivers don’t seem to have a problem spotting these unusual vehicles on the open road. Where it does get dangerous is riding in parking lots and in congested traffic where drivers in their tall SUVs may not spot me next to them down low. I either try to avoid those situations or if I can’t, I assume that I am not seen and stay out of the way until it’s safe to proceed.

- Where do you get a velomobile serviced?
Even though the drive train is composed of standard bicycle components, most bike shops don’t have the experience nor interest in working on velomobiles’ unusual suspension, steering and carbon fiber parts. A velomobile owner ends up being his own mechanic. I’ve taken it a step further. I also design and make my own enhanced carbon fiber and 3D printed body parts.

- Where can I get one?
Most brands of velomobiles originate in Europe. It’s interesting that most are manufactured for these different companies by one company in Romania called velomobileworld. There is one dealer in the US that carries most brands. That dealer is in Texas. He handles all of the red tape of shipping and customs. With the weak US dollar against the Euro and the rise in shipping costs, expect to pay around $15,000 for a new one. Used velomobiles turn up on the web site in the classifieds, Trikes for Sale section. Used ones can be bought anywhere from $6000 to $12000, depending on model and condition etc.

- Where can I learn more?
Google the term "velomobile".

jak Nov 24, 2021 02:53 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

So it costs about the same as a Smart car but is probably faster and more crashworthy. I worked with a woman at Delco back in the eighties who rode a primitive version of this beast. She and her husband who worked nearby had a matched set. There machines were fully rideable recumbents with the fairing removed and enclosed when desired. I could easily outrun them on hills but they could outrun almost anything people powered on two wheels short of a tandem with a front fairing on straight flats.

nope Nov 24, 2021 03:18 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Great info, thanks Michael. Can I ask, why such small windows? The limited visibility seems unnecessary but maybe I'm missing something.

patrick Nov 24, 2021 08:00 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Thank you, Michael, for an informative fact filled explanation. Exactly the type of response I was hoping to get. Happy peddling!

michaelb Nov 24, 2021 08:31 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

I sometimes remove the plexiglas from the side windows and also the front visor. The smaller the openings, the less turbulence and the better the air flow. Actually, the openings are large enough and my eyes are close enough to the openings that my outward vision is quite adequate.

a-1637826556 Nov 24, 2021 11:49 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

He's not peddling. Those are the people selling the velomobiles. He's pedalling the velomobile.

Luvaduck Nov 24, 2021 02:30 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

It's a problem vehicle: Its safetytotally depends on the skill and will of the driver to make good judgements and results of 'driver-error' are huge. It can go too fast for a bike path and would be hard to see in vehicular traffic, especially for drivers who sit high in SUVs, vans or trucks. In a sense, nothing new: Young blades with fast horses were the scourge of their times.

Luvaduck Nov 24, 2021 02:37 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Rereading my comment, it sounds as though I am criticizing. I'm in agreement with the owner's p.o.v. about the dangers, not at all critical of its existence. Reminds me of home-built airplanes, also a fascinating hobby.

Basicinfo805 Nov 24, 2021 08:57 PM
Non-Motorized, Human Powered

Crashworthy?? Not. That's a cool rig if you're the only one around on the road, but get in an accident with another vehicle in that thing and it may be a death trap. Godspeed...

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