N55's spaceframe tricycle can be built at home from plans
Danish design studio N55, in collaboration with German designer Till Wolfer, has created a series of open-source human-powered vehicle designs that can be built at home using basic tools and materials. Dubbed XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles, the models incorporate weather-resistant and lightweight frames that are made using standard aluminum tubes. Those tubes are assembled using simple stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts. “Unlike the singular load-bearing tube seen in traditional bike structures, the main structure is an orthogonal spaceframe of standard aluminum tubes,” says N55.
The vehicle designs consciously use aluminum with its advantageous strength to weight ratio for the cost. Due to its natural ability to resist corrosion by protecting its own surface with aluminum oxide, the metal is also naturally weather-resistant and thus the use of chemical surface treatments can be avoided.
The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a single- or double-seated model and a cargo version that’s suitable for loading up and transporting the groceries. The plans position the wheels and chains within the frame and at a distance from the rider. The recumbent rider is also positioned at a comfortable height, without putting unnecessary stress on their legs. Self-greasing plastic washers are used for the steering components, and the exposed ends of the tubes are capped with a standard plastic PE plug, preventing any nasty sharp corners.
All other parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops. Furthermore, the models can be easily upgraded with the addition of a cover to improve wind resistance, or even with an electric motor to aid in longer journeys.
The project reflects N55’s goal of creating a greener environment and lifestyle, and thus the XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle plans can be downloaded free of charge from its website. The studio also encourages the development of small human powered vehicle factories within local communities, to further encourage the use of non-fossil fueled vehicles.
Ed's note, September 18: This article originally repeated N55's claims that aluminum is three times stronger than steel. This is not the case.