Convertible velomobile looks hot, but is made to stay cool

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The Cabriovelo, ready to roll(Credit: Velobenaco)

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For those who don't know, velomobiles are (usually) recumbent tricycles that are enclosed in an aerodynamic fairing. They often have an electric-assist motor, thus putting them in a niche somewhere between bike and car. And while fully-enclosed ones offer excellent foul-weather protection, they can get too hot when it's warm outside. That's why the Cabriovelo was created. It's a convertible velomobile, which stores its own folding roof and sides when they're not in use.

The original Cabriovelo was developed several years ago by German inventor Christian Wagner, with styling provided by colleague Juergen Mayerle. Although it never went beyond the prototype stage, Italian mechanical engineer David De Regibus recently took over the project, and now hopes to commercially produce the vehicle in the Lake Garda region of Italy.

In its present form, the Cabriovelo weighs 45 kg (99 lb) – although an optional version with a carbon fiber fairing will likely be a little lighter. Along with its stowable roof and side panels, it also features a full lighting system including turn indicators, and a 200-liter rear cargo compartment that can accommodate an optional child seat.

Another option is a 250-watt hub motor in the front wheel, powered by a 36V 11-Ah lithium battery pack. Given that the pedals power the rear wheels, the addition of the motor essentially gives the thing the capacity for three-wheel-drive. It has a throttle-only range of 100 km (62 miles).

Other extras include an electric windshield wiper, joystick or T-bar steering, and Loopwheels suspended rear wheels. Different gearing options are available per the buyer's request.

De Regibus and his team at Velobenaco have just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, in order to finance production. Different pledge levels will go towards the eventual retail price, which should start at €3,900 (about US$4,367). If the financial goal is met and all else goes according to plan, shipping is estimated to begin next May.

The Cabriovelo can be seen in action, in the following video. And should it look a little familiar, that may be because it bears a slight resemblance to the famously unsuccessful Sinclair C5. Additionally, a separate project is developing a hard-top version of it for use in the UK, under the WeatherVelo name.

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