Thursday, April 16 2009 @ 11:31 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Hello everyone! I'm involved in a small research project with some other students at Penn State University. The purpose of our study is to figure out how much interest and desire there is for Velomobiles in the U.S., as well as figuring out what design and features are best for the riders. We are inviting everyone to give their opinions and concerns about the idea.
A local bike shop owner and nation-wide recumbent distributer wants to manufacture Velomobiles and can ship them anywhere in the U.S. For those of you who don't know what a Velomobile is, it is essentially a recumbent trike with a plastic/fibreglass/ or canvas shell surrounding it. It is a kind of pedal-car. The Velomobile includes an "electric assist" motor which can be switched on or off and features a battery pack that actually recharges as you pedal (like the alternator in a car) For more info and pictures check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velomobile
This Velomobile model is still in it's design/proto-type phase and the owner still isn't exactly sure what direction he should take in the design. A few options exist. Particularly, the Velomobile can be sold pre manufactured, all the shell and motor parts built into a recumbent trike. Option 2 is the manufacture of do-it-yourself VeloKits which can be adjusted and fitted to existing recumbent trikes. These VeloKits are also removable, should the owner want to ride in the open air again. This method would, of course, be much cheaper. Other ideas include constructing a sturdier, heavier model with a more powerful motor; however, this would limit it's usability depending on state and local regulations.
As a cyclist myself, I have a pretty good grasp on the benefits, problems, and concerns about Velomobiles, but we need input from cyclists all over the country, the more, the better.
So please, let us know your opinions!
We have drafted some short web surveys to gather quantifiable data. The goals of the survey are to get an idea of how you use your bike, some questions on whether or not you would be interested in the Velomobile concept, some design preferences, pricing ideas, and some general demographic information.