Urban Transport

Eco-minded commuters could soon be pedalling a PEBL

Eco-minded commuters could soo...
The PEBL in its native New England
The PEBL in its native New England
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The PEBL features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle
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The PEBL features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle
The PEBL features a 750-watt electric motor that can be used along with or instead of good ol' human pedalling power
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The PEBL features a 750-watt electric motor that can be used along with or instead of good ol' human pedalling power
There's room for a single rider in the PEBL's adjustable front seat, while one adult passenger (or two small kids) can fit in the back seat
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There's room for a single rider in the PEBL's adjustable front seat, while one adult passenger (or two small kids) can fit in the back seat
The PEBL can tow a bike
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The PEBL can tow a bike
The PEBL in its native New England
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The PEBL in its native New England
The PEBL has 6 cubic feet (170 l) of rear storage space, which can be expanded by folding the rear seat up.
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The PEBL has 6 cubic feet (170 l) of rear storage space, which can be expanded by folding the rear seat up.
The PEBL's body material is noteworthy, in that it's made from hemp cloth mixed with a soy-based resin
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The PEBL's body material is noteworthy, in that it's made from hemp cloth mixed with a soy-based resin
The PEBL tips the scales at 195 lb (88 kg), and can carry a maximum payload of 350 lb (159 kg)
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The PEBL tips the scales at 195 lb (88 kg), and can carry a maximum payload of 350 lb (159 kg)

Perhaps you're one of those people who doesn't own a car, but who sometimes needs a vehicle that's a bit "more" than a bicycle. If you are, then Massachusetts-based better.bike has what you might be looking for. The company's fully-enclosed pedal-electric PEBL velomobile features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle.

Looking not unlike the Elf velomobile, the three-wheeled PEBL features a 750-watt electric motor that can be used along with or instead of good ol' human pedalling power. In throttle-only mode (in which the rider doesn't pedal at all), it has a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). One 2-to-3-hour charge of its 48V/16-aH lithium-ion battery pack should take it up to a distance of 25 miles (40 km) – obviously, it can go farther with a bit of pedalling.

There's room for a single rider in the adjustable front seat, while one adult passenger (or two small kids) can fit in the back. It also has 6 cubic feet (170 l) of rear cargo space, which can be expanded by folding the rear seat up.

The PEBL features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle
The PEBL features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle

Some of its other standard features include vinyl doors with zip-up windows, rear suspension, a full lighting system, cruise control, regenerative braking, a Sturmey Archer 8-speed rear hub transmission, and a combination of drum brakes in front and a mechanical disc brake in the rear. Among the optional extras are a 600-watt heater, a rooftop solar panel to help charge the battery, and up to three additional batteries to help extend its range.

The PEBL's body material is also noteworthy, in that it's made from hemp cloth impregnated with a soy-based resin. While being a considerably "greener" material than fiberglass, it's still claimed to be strong and lightweight. The entire vehicle tips the scales at 195 lb (88 kg), and can carry a maximum payload of 350 lb (159 kg).

There's room for a single rider in the PEBL's adjustable front seat, while one adult passenger (or two small kids) can fit in the back seat
There's room for a single rider in the PEBL's adjustable front seat, while one adult passenger (or two small kids) can fit in the back seat

If you're interested in getting one, be prepared to pay US$5,500 … which is pretty much right in line with the cost of other electric-assist velomobiles. It's currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, with pledge amounts going towards that total price.

To see the PEBL in action, check out the following video.

Sources: better.bike, Kickstarter

Introducing the PEBL: A Vehicle for a Sustainable Future.

4 comments
VadimR
Can't wait till someone brings a 50mph version of a velomobile to the market.
Grumpyrelic
I have a problem with this type of vehicle. When you put a child in a regular car, they are put in a tested car seat in a crash tested vehicle. This slow moving vehicle has no crash protection and sticking your children loose in the back with only a bike helmet will produce the wrong kind of interest from the Childrens Aid Society and the parent may wind up in court explaining that they are good parents and want to keep their kids. In Ottawa Canada we have a car-bicycle accident every week all year round. Yes idiots here ride bikes in the snow! Please legislate these death traps off roads meant for cars and trucks.
exodous
@Grumpyrelic I think we should legislate to keep people that can't see/aren't courteous to bicyclists off the roads.
YuraG
VadimR: if you can't wait, take a look at this www.velocraft.fi/english/df. I doubt anyone can make something better speed- and rideability- wise in the nearest future.