If you're a regular Gizmag reader, then you're probably familiar with velomobiles – they're recumbent tricycles covered with an aerodynamic shell, often featuring an electric motor to assist with the pedalling. Intended to fill a niche between bicycle and car, they're still quite a rare sight in most of the world … perhaps because they're just too weird to be big sellers. Swedish design engineer Mikael Kjellman has set out to change that, with his decidedly car-like PodRide.
Kjellman's 70-kg (154-lb) creation features four wheels for added stability, a waterproof fabric body mounted on an aluminum frame, and a seat height that offers the same visibility as that of a small car. He's been using the prototype as a daily commuter for the past year in all four seasons, and found it to be "a very practical and comfortable little vehicle."
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Augmenting the rider's pedalling power is a 250-watt crankshaft-mounted motor, taking the PodRide to an electronically-limited top speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph). One charge of the onboard battery pack should be good for a motor-assisted range of about 60 km (37 miles).
Other features include a full LED lighting system, 14-speed hub transmission, airsprung suspension, rear cargo compartment, interior defogging fan, and a manually-operated windshield wiper.
The PodRide is narrow enough to fit on regular bike paths, and is classified as an e-bike in Sweden – that means no special licenses or insurance are required in order to use it. In fact, it's not even the only Swedish cloth-bodied four-wheeled cycle car we've seen. We also recently heard about the Velove Armadillo, which Kjellman tells us is not related to his project.
If you'd like a PodRide of your own, take note that Mikael has turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for an assemble-it-yourself kit. He estimates that a final fully-assembled production model might ultimately sell for around €2,500 (about US$2,845), if the market were large enough.
The prototype can be seen in action, in the following video.