Urban Transport

Dual-motor velomobile gets unchained

Dual-motor velomobile gets unc...
A rendering of the Podbike, in its native Norway
A rendering of the Podbike, in its native Norway
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The Podbike's battery range is an estimated 60 km (37 miles)
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The Podbike's battery range is an estimated 60 km (37 miles)
It should be possible to tip the Podbike up on its rear end, so it takes up less space when parking
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It should be possible to tip the Podbike up on its rear end, so it takes up less space when parking
A rendering of the Podbike, in its native Norway
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A rendering of the Podbike, in its native Norway
Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype
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Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype
Podbike pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway, and €4,600 ($5,361) in other European markets
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Podbike pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway, and €4,600 ($5,361) in other European markets
View gallery - 5 images

Velomobiles usually take the form of a recumbent tricycle enclosed by a streamlined body, that might have a motor to augment the rider's pedalling power. The Podbike, however, is a little different. It has four wheels, two motors … and no chain.

Being developed by Norwegian firm Elpedal, the Podbike does have pedals, but they're linked directly to a generator. As the rider pedals, the power that they generate is electrically transferred to a couple of hub motors – one in each of the rear wheels. A removable battery pack adds some additional power, making an electronically-limited top speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) possible.

The battery range is an estimated 60 km (37 miles), although additional packs can be added in parallel to increase that figure. That said, adding more batteries will increase the weight, which is aimed at being in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 kg (88 to 110 lb) with a single battery.

Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype
Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype

Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype. The finished product will also include a full thermoplastic canopy for better aerodynamics and weather protection, along with a complete LED lighting system, and will be able to seat one adult plus a child (or some other cargo) in the back. It should even be possible to tip the vehicle up on its rear end, so it takes up less space when parking.

Plans call for the first complete test units to be ready early next year, with a Norwegian launch taking place in early 2019, and a European launch scheduled for 2020. Pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway – including VAT and local sales tax –and €4,600 ($5,361) plus tax and shipping in other European markets.

Podbike pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway, and €4,600 ($5,361) in other European markets
Podbike pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway, and €4,600 ($5,361) in other European markets

Unfortunately for prospective buyers in the US, American legislation limits e-bikes to having no more than three wheels. This means that a North American version of the Podbike would either have to be purely human-powered (which would be quite a slog), or be made with three wheels. The latter option doesn't appeal to the designers, as they believe that four wheels greatly increase stability, and make the vehicle more practical.

Some of the Podbike's features are illustrated in the following animation. And for a couple of other examples of Scandinavian four-wheeled velomobiles, check out the PodRide and the Velove Armadillo.

Source: Podbike

Podbike: futureproof mobility

View gallery - 5 images
12 comments
liui
Sit in your driveway or garage and use it as a recumbent exercise bike.
chase
Looks cool but...
It's too slow to ride on the road. And too wide to ride in a bike lane or on the sidewalk.
Wheel base looks easy to tip over.
Current velomobiles can reach speeds of 65mph with little effort in the scheme of things. Plenty of YouTube videos illustrate this with people commuting to and from work.
Heck my e-skateboard does up to 35+ mph. With a range of around 40 miles.
So they need more speed for sure. If it's meant to share side roads it's gotta keep up with ease. A top speed of 16 mph ain't going to cut it. Not by a long shot.
Another problem I see is load on grade and being able to make it up the grade. Which skateboards had to overcome. A steep grade also burns up power quick. Something that hasn't been overcome.
Since there's no human assist. All power coming from pedal or battery assist. A healthy grade of any distance I see presenting a problem.
Cute design though. Rear turn signal needs to be in the rear, not just on the side. I like the front turn signal. That's cool.
How to get in and out during a rain storm without getting you and the inside soaked... not quite solved from what I see.
Internal fogging? They do fog...
It's interesting for sure.
Paul Anthony
I suspect that a chain drive is more efficient than trying to use a generator to supply electricity directly to the motor. I'm not positive on that but I do suspect it
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Lean to turn would fix the three wheel stability problem.
YuraG
At that price and specs it'll surely sell, given the current state of the market. The lack of chain is obviously intentional and as a chain itself has its trade-offs, but anyone concerned should see this thing as a combo of an exercise bike (that wastes 100% of your energy) and a pedalec (let's you pedal with less effort). If you need a chain and speed, look at QuattroVelo (quite similar) or Quest, Milan, DF and so on (trikes). I hope Elpedal succeeds and this design is perfected to the point of finally turning a velomobile into a mainstream means of transportation.
JoelTaylor
@chase The 16mph (25 km/h) limit is imposed by a European e-bike legal definition. just like the US limit is often 20 mph (it's 30 mph in a few states). Which is fine for Europe since the average bicycle commuter speed is between 12 and 15 mph. They have bicycle infrastructure that can accommodate the width of the PodBike just fine as well.
JimFox
'tip the vehicle up on its rear end' looks more like FRONT end from the pic As said, 16 mph is pathetic.
JimFox
Previous comment- confused by the pic with the girl facing what looks like the larger end...
bhtooefr
@chase: Looks like it's 799 mm wide, so it should fit in bicycle infrastructure (my recumbent trike is wider and fits), and with four wheels, even though it's much taller than a performance velomobile, it should be reasonably stable.
However, serial hybrids have historically not worked well for bicycles at all, due to the considerable torque pulses that a cyclist puts in - you end up needing a very oversized motor to handle the pulses, making things far heavier. NexxtDrive figured out how to get around that in their power split hub design - prevent the pedals from outrunning the hub shell, so if MG1 got overwhelmed by high starting torque, it just becomes a direct drive hub until the bike is rolling and MG1 has gotten a chance to spin up. But, that's obviously not a serial hybrid, that's a power split.
T N Args
Yes @Paul it is less efficient than a chain driven wheel with a hub motor on it, but gains from the complete separation of the pedals from the wheel and hence often pedalling at sub-optimal cadence. Even 'going up through the gears' involves a fair bit of inefficient pedalling, all avoided this way.