Homebuilt Velomobiles - Introduction

Category: Homebuilt Velos
Published on February 07 2013
Written by Administrator Hits: 4419

Homebuilt Velomobiles

Homebuilt velomobiles tend to be interesting vehicles. They are generally created either because the builder is a do-it-yourself kind of person, or because they have a limited budget (like most of us) and they are unsure about whether the advantages of the velomobile concept are significant enough in their situation.

Homebuilders are possibly more aware of the fact that at the heart of every velomobile is a compromise of some sort, you can't have everything. Optimizing the aspects of either speed, maneuverability, or everyday usefulness tend to create quite different machines. Throw in the fact that most homebuilt velomobiles are also compromised by the need for using an existing tricycle to build a body around, and that few builders are engineers and are just developing the ability to work with the body material of choice, so their designs are often either overbuilt or under-built.

This means that the first velomobile a person creates is never perfect as they aren't totally aware of what aspects of a velomobile are most important to them, or what they can really do with the material. In spite of that, most homebuilt velomobiles can teach us something important that we can use to solve problems that we may have identified, but not yet solved ourselves.

Hopefully, we can find enough enough velomobile examples for this website (both commercially available as well as homebuilt versions) to allow the next velomobile that is built to better fit our own needs without creating too large a compromise overall. By discovering the strengths and weaknesses of each design it will also make shopping for commercially available velomobiles more productive as well. Each commercial design does something better and something worse than other examples, but it is difficult to discover these facts just by looking. At this time, finding reliable reviews of velomobiles is virtually impossible, much less testing velomobiles individually by ourselves. Most velomobiles are bought by people that have never ridden one before purchase, some people have never even seen one in person before purchase.

I was lucky in that I had seen two velomobiles in person before I ordered my Quest, but I was never able to ride one as both of them (a Waw and a Leitra) were far too small for me to fit in. I had built an (ultimately unsuccessful) streamliner body for a LWB Rotator Pursuit out of coroplast in the past and rode a partially faired RANS Stratus for some time, so I had an idea of what a velomobile could do. I fully enjoyed my time building a coroplast fairing, but the need to ride cross-country for the ROAM trip in 2011 and a lack of time ruled out any attempt for me to try to do it in a homebuilt velomobile.

I would like to include links and some pictures to every homebuilt velomobile that is known (even the unsuccessful versions). It would be most helpful to also have as many building details and criticisms of the design as possible. A full-on velomobile review would be helpful as well, especially if you have another vehicle(s) to compare it against. There have been some spectacular designs that I have seen on the web (such as Lee Wakefield's coroplast Red Zeppelin, Friend Wood's wooden creations, as well as the Zotefoam magic of John Tetz). Please forward everything you have so that we can build a comprehensive collection of knowledge for everyone to share.

Thank You.