Posts Tagged tricycle

Velomobiles vs bicycles: facts and figures.

Going back to a few months ago and the posts about my now sold Rotovelo velomobile…

I am adding today a slide with a comprehensive velomobiles model list – thanks to http://www.cykelvalg.dk, their main specification and performance vs regular bicycles. So here is the recap:

velomobile

Although the performance of a human powered vehicule depends greatly upon training, fitness, the added value of the complete fairing vs the extra weight of this feature is demonstrated here (with low uphill and downhill levels though). You can expect these numbers to increase greatly depending on the climb and downhill levels. I am still owner of a recumbent bicycle and a Catrike Speed trike / tricycle and believe, especially for the trike, that it is probably the best human powered vehicule I ever owned.

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Geneva: City at work (CEVA) plus how to escape for a bike trip across Switzerland!

CEVA: work.

This post is relating the current situation about mobility and transportation in the Geneva area with an escape route at the end…

The CEVA is due to solve most of the mobility issues in the Geneva area by the construction of a train railway around the city. The region spreads across two countries, making the transportation problems even more challenging. This picture is taken down my street where an underground station is due by 2015 and the project completed by 2017 with the first trains coming in. And people will jump from the car into the coach…hopefully.

I made de choice to take the picture looking at the sky to illustrate my post, I want to avoid you the view of the construction work  on the street, today and for the next 5 years. This video also shows how difficult it is to get such projects going live into a european cities today instead of 100 years ago.  The region has not been able to face mobility challenges for the past decades, relying on existing infrastructures and individual cars instead of efficient multimodal transportation sytems.

The Geneva region / area, claiming to be part of the most international and shining cities of the world,  is terribly late and above evertything has been blind on basic issues such as sustainability and transportation. The area is now at the back of the peloton, well behind other areas such as Basel or Zurich. The Geneva motorshow remains a nice piece of history, cars do look great and beautiful but that is the end of it.

Want to be part of the solution instead of being caught into the problem? Buy a bike, or even better, a tricycle or the most efficient enclosed vehicule in the world: a velomobile. You will be fast, no longer stuck in traffic jam, efficient and sustainable. And you will improve your health by exercising on a daily basis.

Let’s talk about some fun now: and how to exit the city… or symply plan your next bike travel across the country:
  1. SBB national railway website: http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
  2. Official site to travel the country by bike: http://www.veloland.ch/en/welcome.cfm (plan your stages, avoid the big climbs taking.. the train, your bike hotel etc, it’s all in there (and in English)!

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Rotovelo – Le montage

This post is also available in English.

J’ai commandé et reçu ma vélomobile Rotovelo directement chez Trisled en Australie puis effectué son montage moi-même. Voici comment:

Opening the box

Ouverture de la boite – elle est fermée par des serflex.

La carrosserie du Rotovelo est couchée sur le fond de la boite en coroplast, protégée par une plaque de polystyrène à sa base. Je ne m’attendais pas à un une forme aussi fuselée. Les roues et toutes les pièces se trouvent à l’intérieur de la carrosserie, le hard top se trouve posé à l’envers sur le haut. La couleur est correspondante à ce que je m’attendais, j’ai hésité entre le bleu et le vert mais le second n’était pas disponible au moment de la commande. Le plastique à bulle emballe toute la carosserie, le tout semble bien protégé, bref on a pas économisé. La boite est soigneusement fermée par des serflex.

La liste des pièces trouvées dans la carrosserie de la vélomobile:
  1. Hard top (version targa)
  2. Hard top (version coupé – avec essuie glace)
  3. A sachet plastique avec: “a guide to your vehicle”, le chargeur de batterie, le certificat du propriétaire et les retroviseurs (tous les documents sont en anglais)
  4. Les roues
La procédure :
  1. Monter les roues avants
  2. Montage de la patte de dérailleur (le dérailleur est déjà monté sur la patte et indexé)
  3. Montage de la roue arrière
  4. Montage des rétroviseurs
  5. pose de la fermeture dans les deux versions (targa et cabriollet)
  6. gonfler les pneus
  7. faire un tours*
  8. ajustage de la longueur de la baume*

*Répéter les points 7 et 8 jusqu’à ce que les bons réglages soient trouvés.

Les accès à la transmission d’une vélomobile ne sont pas faciles. Pour ce faire le seul moyen est de la mettre sur le côté. Utiliser le papier à bulle et couché la Rotovelo sur le coté gauche. La carrosserie en plastique et assez solide pour tenir le poids sans se déformer.

Précisions concernant le n°8:

J’ai donné au moment de la commande ma grandeur, j’aurai du également donner mon x-seam, la mesure habituellement utilisée pour effectuer les réglages ergonomiques de vélos couchés. A la réception de la Rotovelo, la baume était trop longue, et après deux courtes sorties, des réglages étaient encore nécessaires, la baume demandant encore à être raccourcie. Une fois réglée à sa bonne longeur, c’est la chaine qui était à son tours trop longue.

Longueur de chaine(s):

Une vélomobile n’est pas un tricycle classique, c’est un véhicule complètement différent. Même si la Rotovelo semble avoir un chassis classique de tricycle avec une carosserie en plastique rapportée, il n’en est rien. Les contraintes sont diverses, à commencer par le poids et la vitesse avec des rapports de pignon et plateaux complètement différents. C’est là où les conseils de Ben de Trisled ont été précieux. J’ai essayé de voir comment je pouvais trouver les meilleurs rapports, le poids de la vélomobile (deux fois plus lourds que le tricycle) associé aux profile de parcours dans la région m’inquiétaient un peu. Je me serai clairement trompé si je m’étais basé sur mon expérience avec mon Catrike Speed.

Ma Rotovelo m’est finalement livrée à ma demande avec une cassette 11-34 (11-32 en livrée standard) et des plateaux 38-50-61, le Catrike Speed avec la même taille de roue arrière a une cassette 9-32 des plateaux de 30-42-52. Je n’ai pas pensé à cet aspect lorsque j’ai raccourci la chaine et je me suis trouvé avec une chaine trop courte sur les rapports extrêmes. Bien que les chaines longes des vélos couchés permettent plus de marge lors du croisement des rapports entre les plus gros et plus petits pignons des plateaux et cassettes que sur des vélos droits, la différence est à prendre en compte. J’ai essayé de rallonger à nouveau la chaine puis décidé de la changer, trop de maillons rapides ou de clou ne sont pas souhaitables et compromettent la fiabilité. Cela m’a permis également de faire de petits changements à ce niveau que je rapporterai dans un prochain post.

Les informations que j’aurais voulu avoir au montage:
Sachet plastique.

Le sachet plastique avec le chargeur de batterie, le guide de l’utilisateur (en anglais) et les rétroviseurs.

Le couple de serrage des vis et boulons, spécialement ceux de la patte de dérailleur que j’ai toujours peur de serrer trop fort (le chassis du Rotovelo est en acier et non en alu je sais). Ben a répondu en m’informant que les boulons devait être serrés “juste ce qu’il faut” (en anglais).

Le reste de la procédure de montage s’est révélé très facile, les roues sont montées à l’aide de vis allen, il ne reste ensuite plus qu’à gonfler les pneus et prendre la route. Je n’ai pas eu à régler les freins et derailleurs, ce qui prouve que le montage et les tests sont effectués avec soins chez Trisled en Australie avant l’expédition.

Attention: Tous les documents et les informations contenues lors de la livraison de la Rotovelo sont en anglais, tout comme tous les échanges que j’ai eu avec Trisled. La prise du chargeur de batterie nécessitera un adapteur pour la plupart des pays européens. 

Papier bulles autours de la carrosserie.

Papier bulle autours de la carrosserie, toutes les pièces à monter se trouvent à l’intérieur.

Travail terminé.

Travail terminé.

Si vous voulez voir des photos de qualité sur le montage du Rotovelo, je vous invite à vous rendre sur la gallerie Flickr de Spin Cyclz, l’importateur Trisled pour les USA. Beaucoup d’images qui s’y trouvent font référence à la procédure de montage décrite dans ce post.

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Rotovelo – The setup

Ce post est aussi disponible en français.

I ordered and get my Rotovelo delivered direct from Trisled in Australia and made the setup myself. Here is how:

The body is laid into the big box…I did not expect such a “rocket shaped” body. The wheels are inside the body along with the hard top on top of it. The blue is exactly the tone I expected, had hesitation between the blue and the green but the latest was not available at the time of the order. The bubble wrap is everywhere around the body, the care taken for the packaging and the protection of the content is obvious, no savings made here. The box is sealed by zip ties and the velomobile is put down on a expanded polystyrene panel for more protection of the lower part and the chassis.

The list of what I found into the body of the velomobile:
  1. Hatch
  2. Hard top
  3. A plastic bag with: “a guide to your vehicle”, the power charger for the battery, the owner certificate and the mirrors
  4. Front and rear wheels
Setup procedure I followed :
  1. bolt on the front wheels
  2. set the derailleur hanger in place (the derailleur itself is already on the hanger)
  3. set the rear wheel and the chain
  4. set the mirrors in place
  5. (try to put hatch or the hard top to see how cool the Rotovelo looks with these)
  6. inflate tires
  7. jump in to go for a ride around the block*
  8. adjust the boom and chain length*

*Repeat 7 and 8 until the ride is good and fine tuning is completed.

Access to the transmission and the rear wheels is not easy on a velomobile. Use the large amount of bubble wrap available and lay the velomobile on its side, the plastic body of the Rotovelo is not fragile and there will be no issue doing this way.

I had issues with point number 8 above, here is why:

I provided Ben with my standing height and did not think about giving my x-seam which is usually the main measurement you take into account with recumbents bikes fitting. The boom was too long. I adjust it to the length that I thought was good but after a couple of short rides I realized that it was still too long, resulting in more adjustments and fitting work. When the boom was eventually set to its final length, it was the chain that was too long this time, needing adjustment.

The chain length and gearing ratio:

A velomobile is not a classic tricycle, it is a completely different vehicle for me. Indeed it has three wheels but that’s about it. Even if the Rotovelo looks like a classic tricycle chassis with a plastic body on top, it is not. The constraints are not the same. The firsts are the weight and the speed, resulting in completely different gearing ratios. Here the advices of Ben were more than welcomed and key. I would clearly have made mistake doing the calculation of the best gearing ratio based on my experience with my Catrike Speed.

My Rotovelo comes with a 38-50-61 and a 11-34 (11-32 standard) cassette (the Catrike Speed with same rear wheel size is 30-42-52 and a 9-32 cassette). I did no think about this when shortening the chain and the outcome of this was the chain made too short. Although the longer length of the recumbent chains allows you with more margin to cross between the big and small front and rear chainrings than on a classic upright bike, the gearing ratio with huge difference has to be taken into account here to end with the perfect chain length. I tried to fix the chain issue but I eventually decided to order a new one, too many chains connector and pins are not good, this gave me the opportunity to make a work on the transmission related into a next post.

The information I missed during the setup:

The torque to tight the bolts, especially for the derailleur hanger that I was afraid to make to tight and broke the thread (I know it is steel and not alloy but..), Ben provided me with the information: “should be firm, but not too tight”.

The remainder of the procedure is pretty straightforward, the front wheels are bolted on using an allen key, inflate the tires and you are done. I did not have to fine tune the derailleurs and brakes, all was fine and demonstrated the care taken in Australia to set up the velomobile at the Trisled workshop.

For more quality pictures of the procedure and the Rotovelo click the Flickr gallery of Spin Cyclz, the USA importer of Trisled. A lot of the pictures are related with the setup process related into this post.

Next: Dealing with ergonomics

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Rotovelo – A summary from a wish list to the delivery on my doorstep

Ce post est également disponible en français.

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.

Availability:

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

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How cool is this trike design ?

Make me think of a windcheetah because of its rear end without the issue of getting used to the ride and the unconventional steering system. image The windcheetah should be definetely faster though. Would like to try both in the end.

Look at the BentRider post about it!

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The blue Rotovelo…

Here is my last beauty from Australia… Not a lot to say at present 70kms or so so far. More to come soon.

image

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