Friday, January 23, 2009

Ultimate Cycle Commuter

EcoVelo has a nice article up on Bicycle Design’s “Commuter Bike for the Masses” design competition. A recumbent design won the competition and I do like that a recumbent won, I am not a huge fan of the winner. Go take a look at ecovelo for the winning entry.

Quest Velomobile

Personally I would recommend a velomobile for the ultimate cycle commuting vehicle for the masses. Something like the Quest would be great for many people. Sure it weighs 70 lbs give or take but the carrying capacity is huge and it flies on the flats, 25-30MPH by non-athletes. The stability of three wheels is also very user friendly.
John Tetz Streamliner

Now for myself and anyone wanting 2 wheels and less weight, I would go with something like John Tetz's streamliner design. His zote-foam fairing adds 7.2 lbs (3.3 kg) give or take to the bike underneath. This is a heck of a lot less than the 70lbs total you see in the commercial velomobiles. It comes at a cost, less durability, not quite as finished appearance and the need for home repairs. But the foam designs he has are relatively easy to repair and pretty durable. John accidentally experienced a 40mph crash in a previous iteration of his design. Here is his report from that crash:
How does it hold up to high speed crashes? A few months ago I crashed at the end of a 40 mph (64 km/h) grade with the first foam shell, when the Sachs 3x7 hub locked up after hitting a high-speed bump (one of the pawls jammed). The bike slid for about 75 feet (22 m) flipping back and forth until wearing the tire flat, I lost it to the right hitting the ground hard. But interestingly I got out of the vehicle on the left side! It must have done a complete roll-over. Also, it did not slide very far - another advantage over slippery hard shells.

An after crash inspection showed a deep scar in the foam on the right side where the seat frame was located along with several scratches and a scatter of deeper scars. The left side also had scratches and a couple of deeper scrapes, evidence that it must have rolled. Basically nothing happened to me. No loss of precious skin, except my little finger must have been bent in a way that a tiny bone in my hand was sprained, possibly fractured. Not bad for a high speed crash. I shudder to think what I would look like on a unfaired bike. This foam can indeed make a light fairing and still have reasonable crash protection. I have a seat belt in the hard shell - I need to add this in the foamshell to stay inside when crashing.

If I had the time and willingness to make a few prototypes I would love to put a streamliner shell around a raptobike using John Tetz's design as a guildline. I would absolutely love a streamliner. In fact I suspect streamliner kits to put around a raptobike would be a reasonable small side business for some entrepreneur. For me a streamliner would be an incredible commuter machine. There is decent storage available in the one above. Check out the storage compartment
Streamliner storage


Russell said...

FYI, I'm pretty sure Dale at Angle Lake will have a Glyde. I can't wait to check it out!

Duncan Watson said...

I should have asked him when I was there Saturday morning. I did ask about the X-Stream and he tempted me with a Rans V3 titanium test ride.

I managed to resist, he was prepping a grasshopper fx for someone. Nice bike, folding, and has a SRAM dual drive. I will talk to him when he brings my Corsa back to me with the new SON hub and IQ Fly mounted.