Various topics: 3: Velomobile experiences and dependency of speed on various factors

2022-6-29: Some experiences with a velomobile.

pictures of the Alleweder that I tried:
alleweder 1 alleweder 2 alleweder 3 alleweder 4

I made a testride in a Alleweder velomobile not long ago. This appeals to me as being constructed from riveted aluminium plate it can be repaired/fixed more easily than many other designs. I want to buy one for testing and design ideas to perhaps develop one myself and to use it on longer trips. The Alleweder was the first relatively succesful velomobile, designed/sold as a kit originally, by a Belgian guy, then produced by Flevobike. You can find many resources on velomobiles so I am not going to copy nor link to everything, just discuss a few things that I found interesting after my test ride, after which I went and looked for the issues I had with it to see what the experiences of others were in this regard.

This Alleweder is one of the early ones with the middle section being lower which means you can look over the hood better/easier, but the downside is moving your legs side to side a bit means you may hit the aluminium rib at the top. It has a Alfine 11 hub with thumbshifter which works quite well, though I suspect that for a velomobile for which you need a quite low gear to go up hils, and a big high gear to go fast with a tail wind), even not aerodynamically optimal as this Alleweder, the range is a bit limited.

I found the riding position very relaxed, and I could see everything quite well. Steering was not bad, you can make turns almost as a sharp as with a normal bike.

I really liked the suspension. All wheels are sprung and it feels like riding a full suspension MTB, you don't feel sharp jolts from bad sections in the road, speedbumps, etc..

I found the steering with a steering wheel type steering to work well but of course it needed some getting used to. I'd like to see differential steering in that steering around neutral is more slow than when you steer at a larger angle, to be able to more precisely steer on long roads, i.e. having to adjust less frequently. This is just my idea, it needs testing to see if that really works or if you end up thinking "it seems the same, as if I didn't steer". This type of feeling is what I got with the small steps in gears with a Campa 10 speed (10-26 teeth?) cassette on a road bike long ago, where I wasn't sure I had switched, i.e. it didn't feel different on one cog or the other which made me feel the steps were too small and thus not useful.

Speed: I quickly accelerated to 20-22 km/h, I didn't find this to go slowly at all, but then again I'm used to cycling with 5-10 kg of groceries in panniers on my normal bike, sometimes transporting 20 kg, sometimes going with a fully loaded bike trailer of up to 100 kg, so it just felt normal to me. Note that the Alleweder weighs around 34 kg so similar to a touring bike of 16 kg + 18kg luggage.

I did have an issue with going faster than ca. 22 km/h in that I found it difficult to go faster for some reason. This was probably related to several factors:
1. the limited leg room (see further),
2. possibly in combination with a non optimal seating position,
3. non optimal foot placement due to small straps on the pedals around my fairly big winter cycling shoes, and
4. not being accustomed to a recumbent riding position. With an upright bike you can use your back muscles, not so in a recumbent.
Regarding point 1: I'm average size but have relatively long legs and I hit my knees several times on the top section which has a ca. 2 cm aluminium rib (with sharp edge pointing downwards) for strength. The cause may be in 2 things: 1. seat position, 2. pedal position as I had my winter shoes which are a bit bigger and didn't really fit well into the straps. I would need to test again removing the straps from the pedals and changing the seat position to find out what the real issue is. I may do this after my trip to Poland/Ukraine.

I searched on the net and rewatched a few videos on youtube about the Alleweder to see what others may have said about leg room and speed:

More to come.

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