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Velomobile question.

Printed From: BHPC Forum
Category: Public: Open to anyone
Forum Name: Etc
Forum Description: Any other riding-related topics
Printed Date: 21 April 2021 at 12:05pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.02 -

Topic: Velomobile question.
Posted By: flyinerin
Subject: Velomobile question.
Date Posted: 19 January 2021 at 11:02am
Hi everyone.

My name is Aeryn (long time lurker first time poster!). I tool the plunge last year and purchased myself a Raptobike low racer. 
I'd been fascinated with recumbents for years and the Rapto' hasn't disappointed. After a lifetime of struggling to get comfortable on upright road bikes, the comfort and sheer speed of the Raptobike has been a delight. I've ridden it at every opportunity and covered quite a mileage already.

Anyway, I've just accepted a new job which is just under 70km from my house. In my current job, I've been able to cycle to work everyday and the prospect of having to drive to my new role isn't one I relish!

I am up for using the Rapto' as an occasional commuter as I can fairly happily twiddle along at 35kmh-ish on the flat, but it would be amazing to have something quicker that can also carry some luggage - a Velomobile seems like a possible solution.

I was wondering if there are any Velomobile commuters here? What sort of distance to you cover on your ride to work? Do you reckon 70 clicks is a bit mad?

Posted By: RoyMacdonald
Date Posted: 21 January 2021 at 2:02pm
Hi Aeryn

Welcome to the forum.Thumbs Up

No that's quite a nice mileage for a Velomobile. You can always use your car when you are not in the mood for cycling after all, but in all probability you will be wishing you had a longer commute after a few months. It's great to have some carrying capacity that doesn't affect your speed. My commute used to be about 18 km on a Kingcycle with all the fairings, and I soon found myself dropping in to Herne Hill velodrome for an extra 35 km in the evenings. And I was always up for site visits. (I was an architect)

All the best.


Posted By: Arellcat
Date Posted: 21 January 2021 at 3:54pm
Prior to lockdown I was commuting about 15km each way in my Quest.  The terrain, if not the traffic, is rather favourable going to the office but it's hard work coming home.  It usually ends up as a bit over an hour (moving time) for there and back.  I ride bikes in any weather, but I don't take the Quest out in snow.  Fortunately WFH for the past year almost has made me rather blas√© about the weather; with five inches of snow on the ground currently and usually unploughed roads in the village it can be impossible to get my Quest to the main roads that the buses use.  The same journey made on my Elephant Bike, to give a comparison, is 45 minutes to the office and about an hour coming home.

If I were doing 70km each way and the terrain wasn't flat I think I would look very hard at electric assist options for a velo.  I have neither the time nor the energy for that kind of distance and fit in a nine hour working day!

carbon Quest, Lightning P-38, RANS Sequoia, Orange Five, Elephant Bike, Brompton, Stumpjumper

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 8:51am
Thank you both for the information. Most helpful.

The ride I am considering is from Redhill in Surrey to White Waltham aerodrome just west of Maidenhead. I've planned the route on ridewithGPS and the elevation profile looks to be reasonably flat so hopefully it will suit a Velo'.

I guess now I just need to find a decent second hand Velomobile. Sadly I don't think my budget will stretch to a shiny new one.

Posted By: GeoffBird
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 2:56pm
I agree with Becky - unless you are superhuman, it sounds too far to me to do regularly, even if it's on the flat. Steep hills make a massive dent in your average speed in a velomobile in my limited experience, especially if you have no run-up. Could you drive part way and cycle the rest, maybe?

Right Time - Right Place - Wrong Speed

Posted By: RoyMacdonald
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 3:59pm
Maybe I should have added my commute return journey meant a 350 meter climb as I lived at the top of Crystal Palace. By Friday I was finding it hard but not hard enough to put me off doing it and getting up on the Saturday at 5:00 am to have breakfast before riding to the Velodrome to train with the pro's. Averaging 30 - 34 mph on the level velodrome in the fully faired Kingcycle Wasp. I would hit 50 mph on the downhill around the South Circular. My average speed was 25 mph on the road. I was faster than the average speed of cars on the roads in London.

The only trouble I had was starting on a bike on such a steep hill if I got blocked by cars and had to stop. The rear wheel would spin and I would fall off sometimes. But of course that cannot happen on a 3 wheeled Velomobile. 

Velomobiles are very efficient machines. Until you try riding one for yourself keep an open mind. I'm slow now because I'm 77 and had a major stroke in 2019. I can still ride up 1 in 10 hills locally though in my After 7.

All the best.

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 4:06pm
I think I'm up for trying it. I reckon it would be do-able in a velo'.

I rode the Raptobike half way along my planned route and it took just about an hour at lunchtime today.

I don't think it is something i would want to do everyday though.

Posted By: RoyMacdonald
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 4:10pm
Good for you Thumbs Up

Posted By: Yanto
Date Posted: 22 January 2021 at 5:26pm
I used to commute 90 odd km each way up to 3 times per week averaging between 33 and 38 Km/h, the first few times I did it I certainly knew it, but after time the legs became used to it.

PS I may be selling one of my velomobiles soon Wink

PPS this was the last time I did it, after that I became a full time home worker:" rel="nofollow -

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 23 January 2021 at 5:23pm
That is awesome Yanto - I'm impressed! Just shows what is possible with an HPV.

Do you mind if I ask which model velomobile you used for those commutes?

Posted By: atlas_shrugged
Date Posted: 23 January 2021 at 8:28pm
IMHO the 70km distance each way in the velomobile is not the main obstacle.

It is the lack of high quality long distance Greenways that are the real barrier. A 70km distance on a non-stop quality route would be a pleasure in a velomobile. As long as no hill was more than 5%!

Issue 142 of the BHPC magazine makes the case for such long distance Greenways to be constructed. Maybe send a copy of this to your local MP?

Posted By: Yanto
Date Posted: 23 January 2021 at 9:22pm
Originally posted by flyinerin flyinerin wrote:

That is awesome Yanto - I'm impressed! Just shows what is possible with an HPV.

Do you mind if I ask which model velomobile you used for those commutes?

Originally I used a glassfibre Quest, then a Carbon Quest XS and lastly a Df, I currently have the Df and an Alpha 7.


Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 26 January 2021 at 9:49am
I have been meaning to write to my MP regarding the state of the cycle routes in Surrey.
The area round Reigate alone is more than a little rough!

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 26 January 2021 at 9:50am
The Quest looks like a great option. I'll have to keep my eye out for a used one as sadly I don't think my budget will stretch to new.

Do you have any experience with Mango VMs? They seem to be the most affordable of the new ones.

Posted By: Yanto
Date Posted: 26 January 2021 at 4:39pm
I've never ridden a Mango so can't comment accurately, I do however think it's fair to say it is a slower type of velomobile when compared to Df, Quest, A7, Milan etc this due to it's not so aero body, I think they are well built though, or certainly not badly built, they have a lot of common components (as do a lot of velomobiles) although I'm not sure that Sinner Bikes/Drymer are actually supporting the Mango or indeed trading at all.

Posted By: ChrisH
Date Posted: 27 January 2021 at 8:00pm
I can probably describe a relevant bitke-for-bike comparison.. Pre covid I used to commute to work 43km each way originally on a raptobike before moving on to a velomobile. Shorter than your 75km and norfolk based, so no hills to write home about. moving over to the velo the average speed maybe increased by ~10% for same amount of effort, so can take it easier when you choose and still get places in a reasonable time. However, the biggest benefits were in the colder months

1. Weather resistance so always guaranteed to arrive warm and with dry feet.
2. 3 wheels, so less concern about icy roads.
3. Less layers of clothes needed to keep warm (so less faffng at either end getting changed/dried etc).
4. All enclosed so less need for regular chain cleaning etc etc. ( once every few months)...

the velo really takes the edge off those Dec-march rides....and if you commute a reasonable distance regularly, they're worth it for that alone...

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 28 January 2021 at 8:30am
Hi Chris,

Thanks for the reply. Do you mind if I ask which Velomobile you decided to go for?
Was it difficult to transition from the Raptobike to the velo' at all? The speed and weather protection appeals hugely but I am a little concerned about the extra load on my knees.

The hills round here are fairly steep but there is always a flat way around so the weight penalty of a velomobile hopefully won't be too much of an issue.

Posted By: ChrisH
Date Posted: 29 January 2021 at 8:15pm
I went for a used Evo-K.
Transition between lowracer and velomobile was quite easy ( mainly just a matter of getting used to different seating position, steering, bigger turning circle etc.).

Your knees will be fine on the hills as long as you just accept uphil are slower until you get to the top and don't mind spinning easy gears. The beauty of three wheels is that on really steep hills you can go as slow as you like and still never fall off!

Posted By: flyinerin
Date Posted: 21 February 2021 at 7:33pm
Update on my crazy commute.

I decided to have a go at the ride today on my Raptobike just to see how long it would take.
The total ride time was just over two hours each way and a total distance of just under 140kms for the round trip (i did get a tiny bit lost in Chertsey). I think with a little more fitness and a more polished route I could comfortably do each leg in under two hours.

The once you get past Brooklands the terrain all the way to Maidenhead is ideal for low racers as it is very flat and you can spin along at a fair old clip. 

I would absolutely love to try the ride again on a velomobile just to see how much time it would save. 

My Raptobike is pretty much as it came out of the box. I'm investigating getting Fujin style tailbox to see if that would help with efficiency at all. Sadly, no one seems to be able to quote any data on what sort of aerodynamic efficiency a tailbox would bring. If anyone has any experience of such things, I'd love to read if the tailbox helped in terms of aerodynamic efficiency.

Here is my route if anyone is interested (I stopped for a hearty petrol station lunch without switching off the Garmin which is why my average speed is a bit low - honest!)" rel="nofollow -'

Posted By: RoyMacdonald
Date Posted: 21 February 2021 at 10:03pm
My guesstimate would be one and a half to two mph on the average speed.

I have a carbon tailbox that I bought from Mike Burrows that was taken from his Cadillac mould (see photo). I bought it to fit to my Fujin but recently sold the Fujin because of my balance issues since my stroke. It would need modification if you want to carry stuff in it and it would then need to be fitted as well. I paid £750 for it if I remember correctly.

PM me if it is of any interest.

All the best.

Posted By: yostumpy
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 1:37pm
Slightly OT, but how do you deal with a *visit* on a velomobile, especially when commuting, does the body have to come off? presumably, if not then  it would have to tipped on its side?  Damage to body work?

Posted By: Yanto
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 1:52pm
The body can't be removed as it's a monocoque construction, most velomobiles have single sided axles so tyres can be removed quite easily, more so with exposed front wheels, but yes tipping on one side is normal for a rear tyre, front tyre just wedge something under the body to lift it enough to access a wheel, with my Df and A7 I loosen the front wheel bolt/axle then lift the body up with my foot whilst kneeling and pull the wheel off. It's also quite normal to carry something to lay it on, a portion of yoga mat for instance. The exception with the WAW is that the rear bodywork does remove. 

Posted By: ChrisH
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 2:20pm
when out and about, to get to the rear wheel when punctured I look for a patch of grass to tip mine over on

Posted By: RoyMacdonald
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 4:23pm
Grass for me for the rear wheel and I always have a big piece of foam as well that I always carry to put tools, shoes and shopping on. It's noisy to put stuff straight onto the Carbon Fiber.

All the best.

Posted By: Kim
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 4:32pm
Originally posted by Yanto Yanto wrote:

It's also quite normal to carry something to lay it on, a portion of yoga mat for instance.

This sounds like a secondary use for a Ventisit pad.

Posted By: Yanto
Date Posted: 22 February 2021 at 7:40pm
Indeed it is, although I hardly use mine, also the waterproof coaming cover can be used.

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