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N55's spaceframe tricycle can be built at home from plans

N55's spaceframe tricycle can ...
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles – this one shown with a trailer – incorporate weather-resistant and lightweight frames that are made using standard aluminum tubes
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles – this one shown with a trailer – incorporate weather-resistant and lightweight frames that are made using standard aluminum tubes
View 21 Images
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle designs can be built at home using basic tools and materials
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle designs can be built at home using basic tools and materials
XYZ Two-seater Spaceframe Vehicle by N55
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XYZ Two-seater Spaceframe Vehicle by N55
XYZ One-seater Spaceframe Vehicle by N55
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XYZ One-seater Spaceframe Vehicle by N55
The vehicle's design consciously incorporates the use of aluminum
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The vehicle's design consciously incorporates the use of aluminum
The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a single or double seated model
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The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a single or double seated model
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle trailer
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle trailer
The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a cargo version that’s suitable for loading up and transporting the groceries
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The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a cargo version that’s suitable for loading up and transporting the groceries
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles by N55
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles by N55
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle designs can be built at home using basic tools and materials
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle designs can be built at home using basic tools and materials
The plans position the wheels and chains within the frame and at a distance from the rider
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The plans position the wheels and chains within the frame and at a distance from the rider
The project reflects N55’s goal of creating a greener environment and lifestyle
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The project reflects N55’s goal of creating a greener environment and lifestyle
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
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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
N55 encourages the development of small human powered vehicle factories within local communities
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N55 encourages the development of small human powered vehicle factories within local communities
All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
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All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
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All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
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All parts such as wheels, pedals, and seats are standard features that can be commonly acquired from hardware stores or bicycle shops
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles by N55
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles by N55
The various aluminum tubes of differing lengths are simply assembled together using stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts
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The various aluminum tubes of differing lengths are simply assembled together using stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts
The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a cargo version that’s suitable for loading up and transporting the groceries
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The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a cargo version that’s suitable for loading up and transporting the groceries
XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles – this one shown with a trailer – incorporate weather-resistant and lightweight frames that are made using standard aluminum tubes
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XYZ Spaceframe Vehicles – this one shown with a trailer – incorporate weather-resistant and lightweight frames that are made using standard aluminum tubes
The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a single or double seated model
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The XYZ Spaceframe Vehicle construction plans include a single or double seated model
View gallery - 21 images

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.

The various aluminum tubes of differing lengths are simply assembled together using stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts
The various aluminum tubes of differing lengths are simply assembled together using stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts

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.

Source: N55

View gallery - 21 images
25 comments
Michael Mantion
That is awesome, in the US this would be illegal to drive on roads, sidewalks or most any public land. WOW super awesome, I could make this and drive up and down my drive way. Totally worth it.
Bryant Drake
I am unsure of what portion Michael is from but where I live it is legal. 3 wheels or less and under 100 lbs and its classified as a bicycle. Add power under 49ccs or 1500W and your an unlicensed moped.
agulesin
Love it! I'm getting excited already, just have to get the materials sourced and we're away!
Thanks to all at N55... :-)
Pikeman
Aluminum is not three times the strength of steel and many if not all of the high strength aluminum alloys don't do the self coating thing.
Roffen
In most of Europe this would be classified as a bicycle. If you use a rear wheel with an electric motor, than the requirements is max 250W, no assist above 20 km/h, and the pedals have to be moving to get power assist.
I really did like the simplicity and the use of standard parts. Also that the chain and drive system is kept away from the driver. The cargo system would also be interesting, seems it should be able to carry a good load. The seat seems to be more stylistic than practical, unless there is some kind of moulded seat you are likely to skid around a bit. I would also think that the version with a short wheelbase migh be a bit nervous on the road, though that might be an advantage in cities. Fully equipped I think it will be difficult to come very much below 50 pounds on this bike. Just the bolts should be a couple of pounds...
Still, this is one of the most "buildable" designs I have seen so far...
Clark Brooks
This is astonishingly bad structural engineering. Bucky Fuller spins in his grave at the effrontery of calling this "space frame". Instead of using the natural strength of triangulation, this configuration depends on the strength of the bolts and joints for whatever feeble rigidity it has. Check out some real recumbents like Rans or Easy Racers for efficient use of materials.
Bob Stuart
What a crock! A proper space frame is fully triangulated. Structurally, this is just a mess. However, all aluminum alloys do develop a tight oxide layer, rather than flaky rust.
Island Architect
Bill Allison, the lifelong suspension engineer who perfected the wind engine achieving a 59% efficiency in his retirement was extremely inventive. He held some 80+ patents on suspension designs and he developed the Packard Torsion Ride which Jay Leno extolled with his Packard Caribbean.
When I told him that I loved the design of the Mog he quickly winced and said no-no! 3 wheeled vehicles are exceedingly dangerous. This proved to be true in the Progressive insurance Automotive X-prize. Watching one of the vehicles spin a 180 on the breaking test was scary as hell to one who understood what Bill Was saying.
He also in his retirement perfected suspension designs saying that it was a shame that he had not discovered the truth earlier. And he did this with a very simple test that an intelligent child could perform.
He simply used a board and made an inclined plane. He then built 3 exquisite models that really belong in the Henry Ford Museum. One was a 4 wheeled configuration, one 6, and one 8. Simply placing them on the inclined plane and letting them roll revealed that the 8 wheeled vehicle rolled much farther than the others. And yes, the 6 wheeled vehicle rolled farther than the 4 wheeled vehicle. Bill would look at you and smile and say the 8 wheeled vehicle has a much lower rolling resistance by a factor of 4.
Think about the common rail car. It has 8 wheels in bogied pairs. Believe it or not, it has that configuration for one reason only... much lower rolling resistance.
Bill's design was clever, Yes there were 4 bogied pairs and there were two walking beams connected at the center as a hinge. The springs were traverse at each end.
When The team from Keio University brought their 19 passenger car to the NAIAS they indicated that it was tested at 200mph and it had 8 wheels, the suspension was hydraulic but configured the same way Bill did his. The ELIICA is a more normal automobile with 8 wheels and it's outstanding performance is attributed in part by the low rolling resistance configuration.
It is time that we disabuse ourselves of thinking that less wheels provides a lower rolling resistance as Bill Pointed out. Sir Alex Moulton mentioned to me that as a youngster he was delighted to play with a Packard and ride it up and down with his friends as it self leveled.
Insightfully Innovative engineers are a thrill to behold.
And I'd bet that the Danish Engineers could come up with a design like Bill's that would delightfully surprise even them.
Bill Dickens
Chris Jordan
Will someone please re-set the Way-Back machine to Oregon in the 1990s; then a later trip to California in 2007? Thank you.
Larry Hooten
At least it's free. Spaceframe? LOL Well, you do get what you pay for!