Eco-minded commuters could soon be pedalling a PEBL
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.
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).
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.