Saturday 6 June 2009

Borrowing a velomobile

I worked at the ligfietsgarage today, a Saturday, as we had several people wanting to try the Sinner Mango velomobile.

The demo machine isn't needed until Tuesday, when I next work there, so I've borrowed it for the weekend and rode home today on the Mango, leaving my PDQ at work.

It's the first time I've ridden such a machine more than a few hundred metres, so I was timid with it to begin with as I started on the 31 km trip back home. As I grew more confident I was quite happy with speeds around 36-37 km/h, roughly the top speed I'd expect on the PDQ, but in the second half of the commute I started to get more used to it and went a bit quicker.

It doesn't initially accelerate very quickly, but your speed can just continue to increase. Wow, it's fast. In open stretches on the cycle paths between villages I was going along sometimes at 45 km/h without really trying all that hard.

When I arrived home, the elapsed time was just under 52 minutes, the best average speed I've done to date for the commute. If I was to use this bike every time then I'd get used to it and the average would perhaps drop a little on good days.

Several months later: I now own my own Mango.

I've previously shown my commute here and here, or you can see more velomobiles here.

Read my review of the Sinner Mango Velomobile.


Nipper said...

Wow that thing is really fast! I would love to ride one.

The film was great, but what was most interesting for me was the way the white truck gave way to you. I ride on a separated cycle path every day and have to give way to cars at every junction, this happens about every hundred yards. Just as I have got going another junction appears and I have to slow, look three ways and because I'm riding at a busy time, usually stop for a car. I live in the Taunton in the UK. It is so infuriating that I have to choose between riding on a busy main road (I was knocked off my bike on the road last year) or stop start my way down the cycle path giving way to the cars at every junction. Oh and don't get me started about how the path is on the wrong side of the road and only runs for about a third of the road...(sorry for the rant)

BTW I have been reading your blog for the last few weeks and really enjoying it, thank you for all the great information and stories.


Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I was one of the people trying the Mango (the guy with the green Nazca Fuego). It's the first time for me to. I peddeled the yellow try-out Mango before (about 15 min.) at Paastreffen X but it was adjusted to small. I kept hitting the top of the body with my knees. After some fiddling around and replacing some broken pins on this white Mango, it was ready to go... and I liked it. Thinking about maybe buying one of these mini-car's. Just have to figure out where to store it, and talk to the neighbours, because the terrain where I live is owned by all of us.

You can read my story, see the photos and a video on my website.


David Hembrow said...

Nipper: I used to live just up the road from you in Burnham-on-Sea. I know the area you're describing quite well.

Yes, the Mango is certainly quick, yet it also works very well here. Cycling is for everyone, on every type of bike, at every speed.

Drivers give way here at junctions like that. It's the law, and the behaviour of drivers at junctions is almost completely reliable.

The cycle path in my video is on both sides of the road.

I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. I've been enjoying yours.

Wilfred: It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday and I'm really glad you enjoyed riding that white Mango too. I enjoyed your blog post, and it's amusing to see photos of myself setting up the bike for you.

The hesitation I referred to in my blog post was much the same as you talk about in yours. Cornering is very different on a three wheel velomobile compared with a two wheel bike, and I was also going around corners very slowly at the beginning.

2whls3spds said...

Never ridden anything like the Mango, but I have ridden the recumbent trikes (we call them tadpoles) They definitely will roll! In the US we have the same problem as Nipper. In fact there is someone in Florida that has a velo-mobile that is constantly being harassed by the police for riding on the roadways. (really don't have separated cyclepaths there) He has gone to far as to install video cameras front and rear to provide evidence that he is within the laws of the state...sigh.


crispy said...


Interesting machine. Does it have suspension? Some home builders in the US who experiment with faired recumbents and trikes claim suspension is a must. Curious on your take.

If I had the money and time I'd build myself a faired 'bent.... but both are in short supply right now.

P.S. Word verification was "bentsp"... oddly appropriate.

David Hembrow said...

2whls3spds: In general I've always been more interested in two wheel recumbents than three. They're quicker. However, with a full fairing a two wheeler becomes impractical, and three wheel velomobiles gain enough from the aerodynamics that the other problems from three wheels are less important. Some people have front and back mounted cameras here too, but generally for entertainment value.

crispy: Yes, there is suspension on all three wheels. It's definitely a good idea, even here where the roads are (mostly) smooth. I had a front fairing on an unsuspended bike in the UK at one time, but the potholed condition of the roads there contributed to the front end of the frame breaking.

cocosolis said...

Silly comment, but... I see no dogs being walked on the cycle path! Here they abound - at the speeds of the Mango, it could add to the exhilaration (even if you do manage to avoid them).

MiddleAgeCyclist said...

Like the video. Seems like a great commute. I imagine you can really get into the zone but i have to ask - does it get boring at all being so flat, wide and safe?

Darrell (AKA middleagecyclist)

David Hembrow said...

Coco: We actually have special dog walking paths around here. No joke. It doesn't mean no dogs on any cycle paths ever, of course.

Darrell: I suppose in one sense, "safe" can be seen as "boring". Before we moved over here I had far too many of the kind of "exciting" experiences you face only too often when cycling in the UK.

If I get bored of this route, I'll take another. There is a good choice. This is the most direct and least scenic way to get to work, but some of the others would only take a few minutes more.