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The Rotovelo is an Australian velomobiles built by Trisled, a company owned by Ben Goodall. Velomobiles are usually quite complexe vehicules but the Rotovelo is probably the simplest vehicle of such type you can find on the market. It is a steel tricycle chassis with a one piece molded plastic body bolted onto it. It has mechanical two disc brakes on the front wheels and the transmission is made of standard bike parts, making fixing or replacement very easy wherever you are. The velomobile is about 33 kg and and has three 20 inches wheels.
Ben has a lot of records on his CV with recumbent racing as well as engineering. He will go to Battle Mountain this year to compete and try to be the fastest man on earth on a recumbent and in a velomobile. Creating the Rotovelo, Ben wanted to get the best of all worlds in this particular niche market by building a reliable, affordable and efficient velomobile (velomobiles are usually expensive). He also wanted it to perform like most of its Europe’s concurrents especially from the Netherlands and Germany.
I am new to velomobile and as such my words should be taken very carefully. I am only the proud owner of a Catrike Speed recumbent so far, since about three years, a relatively fast and low tricycle (unfortunately the production is now discontinued – making kind of a collector) . I have been watching this trike for a long time the Catrike before buying it (about a year and a half) and it is no exception with the Rotovelo. I looked at it since its first release into production, read every thread and article or review I could find about it. A the time I was passing the order I was still looking for comments and feedback. Keeping in mind that the Rotovelo comes from Australia and there was no opportunity to try one in Europe, I was also looking to find pro and cons as much as I can. I understood that velomobiles are: fast, heavy, gorgeous looking for most of them, very addictive and potentially the most efficient vehicles available in the world. Not easy to decide for such spend without trying it. A recumbent is a particular bike and a trial period is needed. You can try it for a hundred meters but it will not give you its full “payback” until 5 to 600kms, so trying it only give you an overview. Sometime not trying allow you also to own later – will explain to another post.
To want a velomobiles was bit tricky without at least trying one. Thanks to a forum that I am visiting from time to time, a Waw, one of the superstar of the velomobile planet coming from Belgium was made available to me for a test ride. Geneva is a relatively small area where recumbent community is almost nonexistent. When discussing with my fellow rider during the Waw test, I realized that I would be about the third velomobile owner in a area of 400’000 habitants.
Back to my Australian story now: I ordered the Rotovelo standard with the hardtop for winter riding and a second mirror for more safety. I also asked Ben for different rear cassette 11 – 34 instead of 11 – 32 to ensure a better climbing capabilities. I must say that I had a lot of questions prior to the order and Ben and his team was very knowledgeable. The advice was good and I felt always confident during the order and question process. I am a hard-to-please person and I would not have bought I did not feel good at this stage of the process. Ordering such vehicle on the other side of the planet earth without trying it is not something you do without a minimal confidence. The order process went out through emails and I eventually received a pdf invoice asking for bank transfer in Australian dollars. The prices were the ones announced on the website plus the shipping depending on location. I also had to confirm my address, phone number and my standing height.
Having the blue Rotovelo body delivered to the Trisled workshop was confirmed as 4 to 6 weeks. The shipping was another stage into this process, Ben provided me with a quote and I asked the same on my side, confirming that Ben’s proposition was more than honest and correct. Announced delivery time was 2 to 4 weeks from Australia to Switzerland.
The delivery time was also corresponding to Ben’s information provided. I confirmed my order by email March 30th and paid 50% of the price. The Rotovelo was ready in Australia May 9th, Ben provided a picture as a proof and I paid the remainder.
The blue human powered rocket delivered to my garage June 6th in a big coroplast plastic box during a rainy day, ideal for a velomobile ride…. Perfectly in line within expectations.
Next: the setup