Bicycles

GinzVelo makes for gonzo transportation

GinzVelo makes for gonzo trans...
Peter Ginzburg in the GinzVelo prototype
Peter Ginzburg in the GinzVelo prototype
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The GinzVelo has a hinged canopy for entry and exit
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The GinzVelo has a hinged canopy for entry and exit
The GinzVelo takes the form of a recumbent tricycle surrounded by a sleek fiberglass/foam core body shell
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The GinzVelo takes the form of a recumbent tricycle surrounded by a sleek fiberglass/foam core body shell
The GinzVelo has 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
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The GinzVelo has 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
According to Ginzburg, because the GinzVelo is so aerodynamic and otherwise efficient, an "average rider" can push it to over 30 mph (48 km/h) using pedal power alone
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According to Ginzburg, because the GinzVelo is so aerodynamic and otherwise efficient, an "average rider" can push it to over 30 mph (48 km/h) using pedal power alone
The GinzVelo features full front and rear LED lighting with turn signals and brake lights
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The GinzVelo features full front and rear LED lighting with turn signals and brake lights
Peter Ginzburg in the GinzVelo prototype
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Peter Ginzburg in the GinzVelo prototype
The GinzVelo utilizes a ventilation system that incorporates the wheel openings and a vent in the back
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The GinzVelo utilizes a ventilation system that incorporates the wheel openings and a vent in the back
View gallery - 7 images

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.

The GinzVelo utilizes a ventilation system that incorporates the wheel openings and a vent in the back
The GinzVelo utilizes a ventilation system that incorporates the wheel openings and a vent in the back

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.

Sources: GinzVelo, Kickstarter

View gallery - 7 images
12 comments
12 comments
Timelord
It may provide rain protection, but good luck trying to see through that windshield in the rain. Raindrops are going to cling to it thanks to the shallow rake angle, which also means the rider will be looking through a lot more drops. Also, with the canopy providing no shade, the rider is going to bake if there's any sun on a day with temperature over 60. It's no accident that auto designers call the glass area the greenhouse.
Looks like there's no cargo capacity, either.
Freyr Gunnar
> 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
Although low tech, a good rain cape works very well. While touring, I've used them to ride a whole day under heavy rain. With rainproof shoes and gaiters, you're all set.
> That's one of the reasons that some people – mostly deep-pocketed people – are looking at human/electric hybrid velomobiles.
You don't have to be deep-pocketed to get one, *if that replaces a car*, whose TCO is about that much for a couple of years even if you don't drive that much.
Anne Ominous
While my comments here have tended to be critical, it's really about trying to improve such products, not about trying to drag any down.
I don't care for the mass distribution of this design. The wheelbase is too short. Going down a hill, I can easily see it pitching forward, especially if it hit some kind of obstacle (like even a fist-sized rock in the road).
While putting the front wheels farther forward a few inches might affect the aerodynamics somewhat, the shell can probably be modded to compensate, and aerodynamics is by no means the only physics problem that must be solved here.
S Michael
Nice target for a big truck, who wont even know if he rolled over it, a mere spot in the road.
Ugly and will not sell. For "deep pocket" people with more money than brains.
Jim Sadler
A product can not be all things to all people. But in my area a serious air conditioner is basic. Even sitting still in the shade in south Florida this would be a horrid heat trap and almost a death trap for any normal person in good health.
Bruce H. Anderson
Regarding the window in the rain, Rain-X has a plastic formula, although there might not be enough speed generated (compared to a motorcycle or scooter) to blow the drops off. The side rake is pretty steep though. The main problem with rain is making sure the shrouds are on the wheels.
The wheelbase may appear shorter than it is, given the extra material out front. But the mass placement of the driver looks about right, so all the perceived mass out front is mostly air.
It is not cheap, but it looks cheap.
overbyte
I agree with Timelord. Being developed in the rainy Pacific Northwest, a different velomobile called The Tripod by Columbia Cycle Works has a flat section of windshield with a wiper blade. Watch some YouTube videos of velomobiles in the rain from 1st person rider's view and you'll see that you would want a wiper. Even the enclosed motorcycles such as Quasar and Ecomobile had windshield wipers. I also would be concerned that there may not be enough ventilation to keep the windshield from clouding up from condensation coming from warm breath and sweat evaporation against a cold windshield.
StWils
All three commentors make good points, except maybe Freyr. I have ridden extensively in the rain and in winter and mostly rain gear only works sort of & badly, at best. Anne is right about the wheel base length and a longer length fixes that issue with very little downside implications. But more than that I would be concerned about the wind image height. I have looked into building something very much like this for myself and from the start I was concerned about road behaviour with wind from all directions affecting vehicle stability and control. I think the greenhouse effect can be controlled by going to a design with a somewhat smaller narrower windshield and sides that can be dropped out of the way. This way you get the aerodynamic value of a smooth surface in front and along the sides you can ride with open air most of the time. Additionally the frame for this supports the windshield, acts as a door, and forms a continuous connection to a frame element behind the rider's head that has an elliptical roll bar shape. This can all be light enough to offer significant crash protection for light collisions. No where near that of an actual car but still far better than a traditional two wheel bike or recumbent trike. Finally, this body will have a much larger level visibility than any bike or trike. A big part of road safety is simply being seen by other traffic. I wish this guy well.
bhtooefr
I wouldn't move the front wheels forward, they're about where they need to be, but I'd move the rear wheel backward, and recline the rider more.

Trike stability requires three main things: keep the center of gravity low, keep the weight distribution around 67/33, and keep the wheels far apart from one another. (I'd put those priorities in that order, too, but you could swap the weight distribution and center of gravity.)

This thing looks like the rider's sitting quite upright, which raises the center of gravity, making a rollover more likely. That also hurts aerodynamics, of course.

Then, the windshield design that they're using will bake the rider. Yes, it gives better aero, but the only successful trike designs I see using windshields like that are racing trikes that make the window small, so you can only look directly forward and a little to the sides, definitely not up. Personally, I'd take the aero hit and follow the example of the European velomobiles, which make the nose only tall enough for the rider's knees, and then have the rider's head sticking above, with an optional cap to streamline the rider's head (with the ability to raise the windshield for ventilation). Another benefit of that is sidewind stability - because the European velomobiles are taller behind the rider than in front of the rider, sidewinds will automatically turn the velomobile into the wind, improving stability. This? This'll get blown all over the place.
godscountry
New development,construction projects in cities,towns around the world should incorporate building a enclosed traffic lane for alternative vehicles,such as 2,3 and 4 wheel bikes,electrics,small fuel engines etc The plus side,it eases congestion,energy costs,emissions,infrastructure maintenance and repairs,etc.Its a win win for everyone.
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