Urban Transport

PodRide blurs the line between bike and car

Mikael Kjellman in his PodRide prototype
Mikael Kjellman in his PodRide prototype
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The PodRide has a hitch for towing a trailer
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The PodRide has a hitch for towing a trailer
The PodRide's rear cargo compartment
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The PodRide's rear cargo compartment
The PodRide weighs 70 kg (154 lb)
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The PodRide weighs 70 kg (154 lb)
The PodRide's manually-operated windshield wiper
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The PodRide's manually-operated windshield wiper
The PodRide's smartphone-augmented cockpit
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The PodRide's smartphone-augmented cockpit
The PodRide's 250-watt motor
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The PodRide's 250-watt motor
The PodRide's drivetrain
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The PodRide's drivetrain
Accessing the PodRide's cargo compartment
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Accessing the PodRide's cargo compartment
The PodRide features full LED lighting
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The PodRide features full LED lighting
The PodRide, open for business
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The PodRide, open for business
Mikael Kjellman in his PodRide prototype
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Mikael Kjellman in his PodRide prototype

If you're a regular Gizmag reader, then you're probably familiar with velomobiles – they're recumbent tricycles covered with an aerodynamic shell, often featuring an electric motor to assist with the pedalling. Intended to fill a niche between bicycle and car, they're still quite a rare sight in most of the world … perhaps because they're just too weird to be big sellers. Swedish design engineer Mikael Kjellman has set out to change that, with his decidedly car-like PodRide.

Kjellman's 70-kg (154-lb) creation features four wheels for added stability, a waterproof fabric body mounted on an aluminum frame, and a seat height that offers the same visibility as that of a small car. He's been using the prototype as a daily commuter for the past year in all four seasons, and found it to be "a very practical and comfortable little vehicle."

Augmenting the rider's pedalling power is a 250-watt crankshaft-mounted motor, taking the PodRide to an electronically-limited top speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph). One charge of the onboard battery pack should be good for a motor-assisted range of about 60 km (37 miles).

Other features include a full LED lighting system, 14-speed hub transmission, airsprung suspension, rear cargo compartment, interior defogging fan, and a manually-operated windshield wiper.

The PodRide, open for business
The PodRide, open for business

The PodRide is narrow enough to fit on regular bike paths, and is classified as an e-bike in Sweden – that means no special licenses or insurance are required in order to use it. In fact, it's not even the only Swedish cloth-bodied four-wheeled cycle car we've seen. We also recently heard about the Velove Armadillo, which Kjellman tells us is not related to his project.

If you'd like a PodRide of your own, take note that Mikael has turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for an assemble-it-yourself kit. He estimates that a final fully-assembled production model might ultimately sell for around €2,500 (about US$2,845), if the market were large enough.

The prototype can be seen in action, in the following video.

Sources: Indiegogo, JMK-Innovation

PodRide pitch v1,1

18 comments
Milton
This is the best looking enclosed quad-bike for commuting I have ever seen. Very well thought-out and totally awesome!!! I'd buy one for $3,000 tomorrow if it were in the USA and I could probably register it as a N.E.V. to bump the speeds up to 25 MPH. Love it
Daishi
I really like the concept.
Greg
I would buy one.
bhtooefr
It's worth noting that in many jurisdictions, a four-wheel vehicle that doesn't meet the car, low-speed vehicle (US), or quadricycle (Europe) regulations is treated as an illegal car, not a bicycle. (Also, calling vehicles like these, or the Veemo, "velomobiles" is controversial among some velomobile fans - an idea I had, that actually comes from both velomobile and recumbent history, is to call vehicles like this velocars - many modern recumbents (via the Vélo-Vélocar, which was a long-wheelbase recumbent bicycle), and all modern velomobiles, can consider the Mochet Vélocar as an ancestor, but the Vélocar was specifically trying to be a human-powered car.)
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really neat. It would be great for gated communities and going around downtown areas where the speed limit is low.
Bob Flint
This hits all the right points, well done, I hope the ridiculous legislation does not deter from fully developing this vehicle, yes safety is an issue and were you actually drive it. Unfortunately in most North American roads, it has great appeal however it maybe used at risk sitting in between a bicycle, and not really a car regardless of how many wheels it has. BTW love the studded tires, mini heater and ice donuts....
Shohreh
Love the wiper.
EZ
Air bags?
StWils
Getting more attractive even though this one still has a clown car sort of vibe. At least the price is actually within a reasonable range! I would like to see a hard skin reinforced by foam crash bar/shell to improve impact resistance within a tolerable increase in weight. Even though riders are careful enough there are simply too many motor vehicle drivers that are dangerous, hostile, and inconsiderate.
David A Galler
It certainly is cute.
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