PODBIKE | FAQ
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FAQ

General

What is the Podbike® velomobile?

Podbike velomobile is a human powered vehicle, a pedal cycle (pedelec) with electric assist. It is actually an e-bike with four wheels, providing weather protection. You need to pedal for the assistance to kick-in. You will have electric assist up to 25 km/h. Higher speed needs to be based on your pedalling, as well as wind and gravity. When speed go above 50 km/h the electric motors automatically starts to gently brake the vehicle. Max speed is around 60 km/h.

The Podbike velomobile seek to mate comfort and practicality from cars with the low environmental impact and healthy life-style from cycling. It will be made from easy reusable materials that together with high efficiency results in personal transport with minimum environmental impact.

Why should I buy a Podbike?

By replacing your car with a Podbike velomobile you will save money, get daily exercise and avoid being stuck in the car traffic and struggle with parking. And you will contribute to a healthier environment.

We have focused on bringing practicality, design and joy into our Podbike velomobile.

Who has developed the Podbike velomobile and why?

Per Hassel Sørensen (a Norwegian engineer) has developed the Podbike concept and his main focus has been on how to improve a velomobile for making it more suitable for the masses. A lot of design principles are discussed in his master thesis in Sustainable Energy Technology (2015, University of Stavanger/ Norway). The motivation is the ongoing and escalating climate change primarily caused by excessive human consumption of fossil fuels.

What problems will Podbike velomobile try to solve?

CARS CAUSE PROBLEMS – They cost a fortune to run with their diesel and petrol engines. They produce poisonous emissions and greenhouse gases and consume massive amounts of limited resources. BICYCLES ARE MUCH BETTER – Both for you and the environment. Unfortunately, few use them for personal transport. The challenge is how to get more people to use cycles instead of cars.

Traditional bicycles have been available for over a hundred years but lack weather protection and high-speed capability and offer zero crash protection. Electric assisted bicycles, or pedelecs, remove the burden from pedalling up steep hills or in strong headwind. But they do not remedy the problem of lack of weather protection, nor do they offer any crash protection. Streamlined velomobiles, cycles with a streamlined body, are much faster, have at least some weather and crash protection but lack the ‘creature comfort’ a modern car offers.

The Podbike velomobile is a new electric assisted velomobile constructed within a sustainable envelope with the following qualities:

  • Easy for occupants to enter and leave vehicle
  • Having lower air drag than a racing bike
  • Excellent ride comfort independent of road conditions
  • Complete weather protection including roof and windscreen
  • First class cornering stability
  • Small parking space
  • Room for bringing a child within the cabin
  • Human powered propulsion using no gears or chains
  • Subtle electric assist keeping the velomobil classified as cycle within EU
  • Improved safety compared to existing velomobiles
  • Easy to mass produce and can be shipped the ‘IKEA‘ way; with some easy end-user assembly required
  • By itself each of these targets are not something special, but the sum results in a unique vehicle.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

What is the price for a Podbike velomobile?

The sales price will be updated closer to launch, and will depend on chosen equipment packages / additional (optionals) when doing the final order.

For a standard model of Podbike velomobile (without any optionals), we have estimated a starting price from NOK 50.000,- (incl. VAT/ local sales tax), equivalent to from €5000 in Europe (plus local sales tax and shipment costs.). Optional equipment at extra cost. A list of available optionals and associated price will be published closer to launching.

What equipment will be included in a Standard version of the Podbike velomobile?

The standard model of Podbike velomobile includes a 400Wh battery with an estimated range of 80km (battery combined with pedal power), left side mirror, summer tires, cup- and cellphone/ tablet holder inside, USB charger, front lights, back lights and indicator lights.

What equipment will be optional and at what price?

We are still working on the list of optional equipment. This list will be rather extensive as we try to cover many of the needs of customers all over the world. Factors such as climate, terrain, age, family situation, usability etc. necessitates a wide range of options.

 

Some examples are:
Window wiper (manual), window washer, various canopy coatings, different colours and decoration, winter tires (studded and studless) , different ventilation systems, extra battery capacity, spare batteries, trailer hitch/ towbar for bike trailer, extra lights, child seat, vehicle elevator (for easy access and vertical parking), extra theft protection, fabric covers, sound system, BT handsfree, and more to come.

How do I order a Podbike velomobile?

You can pre-order here: I really want to be a Podbiker

When and where will the vehicle be available?

We hope and plan for having the first batch of Podbike velomobiles produced in 2019 so we can start the delivery to our patient and enthusiastic pre-order customers, first in Norway and then rest of Europe (2020).

Availability outside Europe will depend on the demand and country regulations.

Will the PODBIKE velomobile be available in the United States at some point?

We do hope so, but US legislation for electrically assisted human powered vehicles are quite clear that only bikes with two or three wheels can be classified as ebikes, see “Public Law 109-319” here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ319/pdf/PLAW-107publ319.pdf

 

So with the current legislation, our vehicle is only legal on the street in the US without battery, on pure «bread power» since it has more than three wheels and is thus classified as a car.

 

We have thought of making a three wheel Podbike for USA & Canada. Unfortunately, three wheels is not a wise option when you want to make a safe, practical and fast velomobile. We talk from many years of experience. You can read more about why we use four wheels in the Founders master thesis «Velomobile:redefined» (Chapter 3).

 

Another issue is that current legislation regarding ebikes in North America is not harmonized across states, counties and cities. So we believe it is not technically possible at the moment to make an e-bike that is legal all across USA, Canada & Mexico. Further information can be found on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws

DIMENSIONS AND SPACE

What is the size and weight?

2.3 m long, 0.8 m wide and approx. 1100 mm tall (ride height), 1500 mm tall (raised). You feel like you are sitting inside a sports car with large windows. It is 50 mm higher than a Lamborghini Miura and 50 mm lower than a Volkswagen XL1.

 

Weight when empty: Approx 65 kg. Max weight when laden: 200 kg.

Can I bring a child and any luggage?

There is plenty of room for one adult + luggage or one adult and less luggage and a child. Child seat (optional equipment) fits a child up to six years or 25 kg (whatever comes first). For bringing more than one child, you can add a trailer hitch (optional equipment) for attaching a bicycle trailer.

What is the full spec for the Podbike velomobile?

The full spec is yet to be finalized but here are some preliminary spec (may change):

 

Size: 2300 mm long, 799 mm wide, 1100 mm tall (ride height), 1500 mm tall (raised)

  • Weight when empty: approx. 65kg
  • Max weight when laden: 200 kg
  • Occupancy: has room for 1 adult + lot of luggage, or less luggage and a child
  • Child seat (optional): Up to six years / 25 kg (whatever comes first)
  • Towing hitch: Yes (optional)
  • Absolute top speed: 60 kph
  • Max assisted speed: 25 kph for EN 15194 compliant version
  • Air & rolling resistance target: Max 100W for 30 kph, about the same as a racing bike
  • Based on EN 15194 safety standard for electric assisted cycles. Podbike is designed to be a EPAC/Pedelec within regulations as defined for EU; i.e. max assisted speed 25 kph, max continous assist power 250W and assist cease to function if cyclist stop pedalling

USABILITY AND FUNCTIONALITIES

Will I need any drivers licence or registration for a Podbike velomobile?

The vehicle does not require registration nor a drivers license. It is basically an electric assisted pedal cycle camouflaged as a microcar. That gives you full access to all cycle-infrastructure in cities and suburbs, while saving cost. Type approval is not needed on Pedelecs since it is not classified as a motor vehicle.

Can I use Podbike in the bike paths/ lanes? Or do I have to be in the car roads?

A Podbike is allowed wherever you are allowed to ride a regular bike/ ebike. That means at the bike paths, bike lanes and in the car road. A Podbike is not wider than a regular bike trailer (as is 80 cm).

Where can I park?

It can be parked in areas for bike parking and at free parking areas. It can be stored on its rear end to minimize required parking space. A special parking solution (garage) is on the road map (see conceptual deisgn here parking garage . One garage has room for four bikes (parked vertically), locking functions and charging via solar power. Two garages have room for eight bikes and will fit well into one single car parking place. Future functionality with autonomous operation for storing, locking and charging is in our roadmap.

How do I lock it and how can it be protected against theft?

The bike have a canopy that can be locked. But it is a cycle for pedalling so it has to be made of light materials. Those materials will not keep a determined thief away. But we consider offering an alarm or other means to prevent theft. We will also make sure the vehicle is easy to lock safely to fixed objects.

How do I charge the batteries?

The batteries can be charged inside the vehicle or separately (outside).

Can the seatposition be adjusted to fit different users?

The bike accommodate riders between 150 and up to 200 cm. This is made possible by: a) adjusting position of pedal generator, b) adjusting rake of seat, c) adjusting steering position. All these adjustments can be done in seconds without any tools.

What is Podbike velomobile's power/ speed ratio for uphill riding?

Uphill the speed is slower than an ordinary e-bike due to larger mass. Uphill it has the advantage of four wheels, and is therefore more stable than a regular cargo bike with two or three wheels. It also has a good electric automatic gear that is integrated with the motor solution. This makes it easy to keep a high speed on the pedals even in steep hills.

Downhill the speed is faster due to the heavier weight and low air resistance. On flat ground there is faster speed due to low air resistance. Maximum speed is 60km/h downhill (by automatic breaking system).

How will it be to ride a Podbike velomobile in bends and corners?

The Podbike velomobile has fully independent suspension, allowing high air pressure in tires giving low rolling resistance but still offer comfortable ride. The low centre of gravity allows very high lateral forces without danger of overturning so you can maintain vehicle speed through bends and corner. The small frontal area combined with a low drag body result in low air drag.

How will the weather and terrain conditions influence the usability?

Rain: Windscreen wiper is on our optional list. It will be manual, as in old cars.

Dew/mist on the window: Jet wind is led through the ventilation duct along the inside of the windshield during cycling. Electric fan creates air circulation when the bike is stationary. Heater that preheats ventilation air during cycling. In addition the ventilation has large capacity and can be further enhanced by optional electric fan/ demist option.

Heat and sun: We have put much effort into trying to solve cooling in best possible ways. We plan to use both IR reflective coating on the surface and IR filter in the material of the canopy. We also plan to offer a removable internal sun shadow made of light fabric as seen on front windows on some tourist busses. The canopy can be removed completely or left partially open to be able to ride in very nice weather without overheating. Or you can purchase our ventilator solution with single or double blowers that is developed for very misty or very warm environments. A tinted canopy with extra UV protection will also become an option in the future. Active seat cooling increase mass, cost and complexity but we have been in contact with suppliers of such systems for cars. It might become an option at a later stage.

Snow and ice: Podbike velomobile is an all-year bike and is secure and stable on slippery roads as it has four wheels, all with the same 27-406 rim dimension. The wheels are attached with a single safety bolt, similar to a Formula 1 car. This makes it very easy and quick to change between summer- and winter wheels. We will offer optional extra winter wheel set with or without studs. With studs the vehicle rides excellent on both snow and ice.

Bumpy roads: It is constructed to handle a lot, including bumpy roads. It has fully independent suspension on all four wheels. This allows for high air pressure in tires giving low rolling resistance, but still offer comfortable ride.

Have you made a working prototype yet?

Yes we have. Our first prototype, named “Knoll” is a rolling chassis and since summer 2017 we have used this for testing of drivetrain, wheels and steering, amongst other. The second one (rollong chassis only as well) is named “Tott”  and has been used for testing and redesign of seat position, steering, wheel carriers and more.

The first Podbike velomobile with a body and canopy (named “T-0”) was first launched in Q1/ 2018 and we are still working on developing and improving solutions on this sample.

We plan to produce twelve Podbikes in a 0-series (test series) during 2018 and then get ten of these on the road for some months for testing in different environment. When it comes to test driving of the beta version (the 0-series), we want to have these bikes close to our workshop/ office. Our test persons are therefore mainly locals and are very excited to help us improve the final product.

Will there be a Speed pedelec version of Podbike in the future?

At the moment we have focus on getting the Podbike velomobile ready and bring it to the market. Currently, we do not have any plans about making a S-Pedelec. However, the Podbike velomobile is more aerodynamic than a racing bike and it will not be a problem to achieve higher speeds than the assisted 25km/h. As the speed might become very high, especially downhill with the help of gravity, we have speed limited to 60km/h for safety reasons.

VISIBILITY

How many lights will a Podbike have?

The Podbike velomobile will have lights in the front and behind in addition to the turn signals on each side. This is redundant lights, supplied from two power supplies both front and rear. In case something goes wrong, there is still light. The body will also be equipped with reflectors as required to be street legal in the country it is configured for. That include “Z” marked reflectors for Germany.

The Podbike is quite low, will I be seen by cars?

The low profile of velomobiles has often been mentioned as a major issue both due to low eye height for the rider and the low visibility.

The Podbike is 1100 mm high, and you will feel like you are sitting inside a sports car with large windows. But 1100 mm is 50 mm higher than a Lamborghini Miura and 50 mm lower than a Volkswagen XL1. We agree that there are benefits of raising eye level on the vehicle. That is part reason why we will offer an option to raise the rear end of the vehicle. So the rider eye level can be raised to get better overview. But only when going slow. As the elevated vehicle’s higher centre of gravity makes the vehicle much less stable, there will be speed limit and visual warning.

Per Hassel (Founder and Product Developer) says:
“After seven years of usage of an even lower velomobile, the Dutch Alleweder, the argument of not being visible in traffic is simply not true, because: the large bodies of velomobiles are much more visible for the other interacting traffic compared to regular upright bikes.The relative large body forces a Podbike velomobile rider to behave more car-like, making traffic interaction more predictable, comparable to a car. The Podbike velomobile is taller than Lamborghini Countach but lower than Bugatti Veyron, and about as easy to detect in complex traffic due to profile, colors and light. A Podbike velomobile is much taller than most traffic posts and traffic islands. And they are easily seen by passing drivers”.

Will there be a flag on the Podbike?

We will offer a high visibility flag with a long pole as an option for the riders who want this but we would like to warn that it might give false security:

 

“I tried once to ride with a long orange rod with flag to see if that gave any benefits. But even if car drivers could see the flag behind hedges etc, exploiting my increased visibility did not make sense. So the air drag slowed me down and the flag pole was obstructing low passes. And I actually felt less secure. It seemed some drivers assumed a child on a bike at low speed when seeing the flag and not expecting a velomobile at speed.»

– Per Hassel Sørensen.

MORE TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Energy efficiency

Podbike velomobile has fully independent suspension, allowing high air pressure in tires giving low rolling resistance but still offer comfortable ride. The low centre of gravity allow very high lateral forces without danger of overturning so you can maintain vehicle speed through bends and corners reducing the need for braking. The small frontal area combined with a low drag body result in less air resistance than a racing bike.

 

Velomobiles are the best in class personal transport based on energy consumption during production and use. It reduce the emissions from transport by a factor of ten or more compared with electric cars on renewable energy and a factor of at least forty compared with modern cars (traditional and hybrid ICE cars).

Drive train

Podbike velomobile uses series hybrid propulsion with no direct mechanical linkage between pedals and wheels. All energy transfer from the rider to the wheels is done via electric wires. The vehicle use one 250W motor for electric assist, and one 250W motor for series hybrid propulsion, thus it is legal in all EU countries. 
This may sound like too little, but the vehicle has been designed to be very energy efficient.

Gear

The speed and torque of the pedals are individually controlled by setting a preferred cadence and load. The cadence has priority: If you pedal slower or faster than the ideal cadence the algorithm will try to keep your ideal cadence by changing load. This is implemented by simulating a standard bicycle gear change so you will experience a step change in load. However, the number of «gears» and the delay before changing «gears» might be adjustable. Also, the pedal load reflects the wheel load so that it becomes easier to pedal when you pass a top and start going downhill.

Wheels

All wheels comes with the same 27-406 rim dimension. The wheels are made of thermoplastic with 60% fiberglass and are very robust. These wheels are also used on heavy-duty cargo bikes that handle twice the total load per wheel. These wheels have not the issues of corrosion and spokes where seen on regular bicycle wheels.

 

The wheels are fastened with a single safety bolt, similar to a Formula 1 car. This makes it very easy and quick to change between summer- and winter wheels. We will offer optional extra winter wheel set with or without studs. With studs the vehicle offers safe travel on both snow and ice.

Speed

We use three motors/ generators, two that acts as electronic transmission and one that acts as assist motor/electronic brake. The power to the assist motor is limited to 250 W continuous output and 25 KPH speed limit, while the other motor output matches the pedal generator input thus acting as the human powered transmission. This motor works beyond 25 KPH. However, when you use the electronic brake that can be triggered manually, for example by pedalling backwards while going forward, or automatic, when reaching max downhill speed, both wheel motors brake the vehicle.

 

The assistance to speed from the battery is limited to 25 KPH. However, the pedal generator is not. So by continuing to pedal and thus supplying manmade pedal energy, speed may increase beyond assist speed depending on various factors like inclination, generator output, efficiency and rolling resistance. However, the max speed will be limited to 60 KPH for safety reasons. We store pedalling energy and braking energy using electric batteries. We do not use mechanical flywheel (s).

Battery capacity and charging

Podbike velomobile uses series hybrid propulsion with no direct mechanical linkage between pedals and wheels. All energy transfer from the rider to the wheels is done via electric wires. The vehicle uses one 250W motor for electric assist, and one 250W motor for series hybrid propulsion. The charging time for the battery depends on the capacity, and which charger you use. The base model comes with the standard 2A charger and four 100 Wh battery modules. Those will charge a fully depleted system in around five hours, and from 20% to 80% SOC in about three hours. Then you can beef up the system with our fast 8A charger that accelerate charging by four, bringing 20% to 80% charge time down to approx. 45 minutes. . We will offer single 100 Wh battery modules that extend the battery capacity. Currently, we plan to provide space to fit up to 15 modules in total, with up to 300 km range.

 

Battery is removable so that charging can be performed independent of vehicle. That is quite important for cyclist who ride in very cold weather or lack charging possibilities where the Podbike velomobile is parked. We continuously work on getting the best possible all-year battery suitable for our Podbike velomobile.

Motors

Two motors, one in each rear wheel, is the only propulsion – no greasy chains.

A compact generator propelled by pedals provide human power input. An electronic transmission complying to pan-European requirements for electric assisted cycles. We use a battery pack specially developed for electronic transmission on cycles in Nordic climate.

Safety

Protective zones to absorb and distribute impact energy in case of collision.

Maintenance

Minor maintenance costs due to robust and maintenance free propulsion system with no chain nor gears, only pulleys and synchronous belts.

Material

The materials for the Podbike velomobile are selected with recycling in mind.
Primary structural components are made of corrosion protected aluminium. Some safety-related details, like the roll-over protection, are made of stainless steel. The body and canopy are made of UV stabilized thermoplastic. For volume production the body panels will be made of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic. That is the same material as used in lightweight and expensive suitcases. Body in thermoplastic and frame of aluminium sandwich is strong and light and can be fully recycled. The bicycle base plate is made of aluminium sandwich of same type as used in some racing cars and is light and stiff. The cover consists of a clear canopy attached to the two doorblades, where everything is lifted up and backwards. The hinge mechanism consist of a four-point hinge with an integral gas spring/damper on each side.

 

The canopy is made of plastic with a special hard-wearing film to avoid scratches, but will be damaged by careless treatment.

Noise level

We design the vehicle to be low noise and at 25 km/h and faster there should be less noise at speed than from a regular bike due to less wind exposure. And due to no chains and softer body the internal sound level should be less than in a standard GF/CF velomobile body.

 

The sound comes mainly from the three synchronous belts and only the one for the pedal generator is inside the cabin. The belts are covered to reduce noise. The bike also has electric fans but they run only when needed so that sound should not be intimidating.

Design

The small frontal area combined with a low drag body result in less air resistance than a racing bike.

Do you have plans for autonomous functions?

The vehicle platform is designed for future semi-autonomous control system that will enable specially equipped Podbike velomobiles to park and charge itself. The bike has been designed from the ground up to be an ultra-light vehicle platform for both augmented and autonomous mobility.

 

We hope to enter joint-ventures enabling autonomy in future versions, the first step will be limited to self-docking into a special charger/bike-lock. The next step is to make the Podbike velomobile perform self-parking in the carousel garage as seen on our webpage. The simple self-parking autonomy functionality has currently higher priority than augmented reality.

Do you have any "Connected Vehicle" or IoT in mind (beside bring your own smartphone)?

Yes, we do have IoT plans for the Podbike. If you are interested in reading more about the technical solutions we recommend looking into «Velomobile:Redefined», the master thesis by Podbike Founder Per Hassel that laid down the design principles for the vehicle.

https://www.podbike.com/downloads/Velo-redef021.pdf

I want to read more about the engineering work behind Podbike

More technical info in Product Developer Per Hassel Sørensen’s  Master Thesis: “Velomobile: redesign” (2015) from University of Stavanger is available for downloading here:

https://www.podbike.com/downloads/Velo-redef021.pdf

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WANT TO BE A PARTNER AND / OR INVESTOR?

I want to become a distributor in my region, how do I proceed?

Please feel free to send a message through our Contact form and describe your location, your background and contact details.

Who do I contact if I want to evaluate investment possibilities?

If you believe in our innovative mobility concept and want to be an investor in a sustainable product line with great market possibility, please contact our CEO at alh@podbike.com