Electric bikes may help you climb hills, fight headwinds and arrive at work in a non-sweaty state, but they still won't keep you dry when it rains. That's one of the reasons that some people – mostly deep-pocketed people – are looking at human/electric hybrid velomobiles. One of the latest such vehicles to hit the road is Virginia-based inventor Peter Ginzburg's GinzVelo.
The GinzVelo takes the form of a recumbent tricycle surrounded by a sleek fiberglass/foam core body shell, which is the basic design used by most velomobiles. The shell aids in aerodynamics, shields the rider from the elements, and may also offer a degree of crash protection.
It additionally makes the thing look pretty darn cool.
Because they tend to be a lot heavier than bicycles, many velomobiles feature an electric-assist motor. In the case of the 85-lb (39-kg) GinzVelo, a 48-volt 20-Ah lithium-polymer battery-powered 500-watt brushless hub motor is used to augment the rider's own pedaling power, or to work purely in throttle mode.
If used as a throttle, it can reportedly take the GinzVelo to a regulated top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) for a range of 75 to 100 miles (120 to 161 km) – that range is increased if the rider is willing to do some pedaling. According to Ginzburg, because the vehicle is so aerodynamic and otherwise efficient, an "average rider" can push it to over 30 mph (48 km/h) using pedal power alone.
Some of its other features include full front and rear LED lighting with turn signals and brake lights, side mirrors, a hinged canopy for entry and exit, and a ventilation system that incorporates the wheel openings and a vent in the back.
If you're liking the looks of the GinzVelo, you can make your appreciation known by backing it on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$6,000 will get you one, when and if they reach production.