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Velomobile dreams...

Old 07-06-10, 02:51 PM
  #1  
CdCf
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Velomobile dreams...

I have a dream...

For quite some time now, I've had a strong desire to move into the realm of recumbents. For many reasons.

As soon as I have the financial means and a place to build and keep it, I will build myself a velomobile.

The general concept is already clear, and it will feature the following:
Tadpole trike
559 or 622 wheels all around
Avid BB7 disc brakes on all wheels
Schmidt generator hubs on both front wheels
possibly a PowerTap rear hub
full aerodynamic fairing with acrylic windows
rear cargo compartment straddling the rear wheel
rear wheel suspension (MTB-style)
Ackermann steering geometry
central steering yoke instead of typical tadpole "side-sticks"
both front brakes connected to one brake lever
rear brake connected to the other lever, possibly with some form of drag brake control
front wheels outside of fairing, F1-style, but with their own full fairings (to allow a wide track while keeping the main body narrow, and allowing wheels to turn more freely)
possibly lever-actuated "bomb bay doors" to allow reversing using feet
powerful LED headlights, run off a circuit that rectifies and smooths the generator output, and allows feed off of a battery pack when stopped or when generators are unloaded electrically
powerful LED rear lights, mounted both on the wheel fairings (with shields to prevent them from being visible to the person inside) and high up on the tail end of the main body, powered the same way as the headlights
turning signals, front and rear, purely on battery power for simplicity
bullet nose, tapering to a vertical wedge at the rear end
air intakes leading to "posable" tube vents for cooling air
wide gearing range, maybe 53-39-30 combined with a 11-34 cassette
bar-end shifters
*rear-view mirrors mounted either on the wheel fairings or on the main body

Provided I end up with a fairing that gets down to a CdA of around 0.15 m^2 and a total weight of 75-80 lbs, I should be able to cruise at 35-40 km/h at my typical endurance power levels, making such a vehicle very well suited for long journeys. It should also provide a much more pleasant riding experience during the colder 3/4ths of the year, being protected from cold air, rain and snow.

The first step is to get (buy or borrow) a tadpole trike and see how I like it on more extended rides. I've only tried one for a fairly short ride, and although I absolutely loved it, I will need to be quite sure before I start off building one...

The second step is to build the basic "naked" trike, and then use thick steel wires and bend them to form the minimum required interior shape of a fairing to fit comfortably, and to get in and out, store things and so on. Then cover the steel frame with some light fabric to test for visibility and other issues.

The actual fairing would probably be built using layers of styrofoam glued together, with a level-by-level outline drawn onto each layer, then cut and shaped using a heated wire, and finally sanded down to a fairly smooth shape. That styrofoam shape would then be covered by CF weave and resin. When the shell is finished, it would probably get a bright yellow paint, both to protect against UV and to increase visibility.

The acrylic windows will either be a series of flat panels (for simplicity) or larger sheets with simple bends/folds along one axis only. No compound curvature, thank you...

It will likely be years before I can even begin to build it. In the mean time, I'll keep dreaming!
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Old 07-07-10, 03:38 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
I have a dream...

For quite some time now, I've had a strong desire to move into the realm of recumbents. For many reasons.

As soon as I have the financial means and a place to build and keep it, I will build myself a velomobile.

The general concept is already clear, and it will feature the following:
Tadpole trike
559 or 622 wheels all around
Avid BB7 disc brakes on all wheels
Schmidt generator hubs on both front wheels
possibly a PowerTap rear hub
full aerodynamic fairing with acrylic windows
rear cargo compartment straddling the rear wheel
rear wheel suspension (MTB-style)
Ackermann steering geometry
central steering yoke instead of typical tadpole "side-sticks"
both front brakes connected to one brake lever
rear brake connected to the other lever, possibly with some form of drag brake control
front wheels outside of fairing, F1-style, but with their own full fairings (to allow a wide track while keeping the main body narrow, and allowing wheels to turn more freely)
possibly lever-actuated "bomb bay doors" to allow reversing using feet
powerful LED headlights, run off a circuit that rectifies and smooths the generator output, and allows feed off of a battery pack when stopped or when generators are unloaded electrically
powerful LED rear lights, mounted both on the wheel fairings (with shields to prevent them from being visible to the person inside) and high up on the tail end of the main body, powered the same way as the headlights
turning signals, front and rear, purely on battery power for simplicity
bullet nose, tapering to a vertical wedge at the rear end
air intakes leading to "posable" tube vents for cooling air
wide gearing range, maybe 53-39-30 combined with a 11-34 cassette
bar-end shifters
*rear-view mirrors mounted either on the wheel fairings or on the main body

Provided I end up with a fairing that gets down to a CdA of around 0.15 m^2 and a total weight of 75-80 lbs, I should be able to cruise at 35-40 km/h at my typical endurance power levels, making such a vehicle very well suited for long journeys. It should also provide a much more pleasant riding experience during the colder 3/4ths of the year, being protected from cold air, rain and snow.

The first step is to get (buy or borrow) a tadpole trike and see how I like it on more extended rides. I've only tried one for a fairly short ride, and although I absolutely loved it, I will need to be quite sure before I start off building one...

The second step is to build the basic "naked" trike, and then use thick steel wires and bend them to form the minimum required interior shape of a fairing to fit comfortably, and to get in and out, store things and so on. Then cover the steel frame with some light fabric to test for visibility and other issues.

The actual fairing would probably be built using layers of styrofoam glued together, with a level-by-level outline drawn onto each layer, then cut and shaped using a heated wire, and finally sanded down to a fairly smooth shape. That styrofoam shape would then be covered by CF weave and resin. When the shell is finished, it would probably get a bright yellow paint, both to protect against UV and to increase visibility.

The acrylic windows will either be a series of flat panels (for simplicity) or larger sheets with simple bends/folds along one axis only. No compound curvature, thank you...

It will likely be years before I can even begin to build it. In the mean time, I'll keep dreaming!
Sounds fun. I think that you will have better handling and a lower centre of gravity with 20"(ERTO406) wheels. Apparently the side loading on trike front wheels is quite high and it is easier to build a stronger small wheel.
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Old 07-07-10, 09:31 AM
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Yeah, but I want to be able to get decent tyres (only possible with 559 and 622 wheels here), and I'm certain I can build very strong 559 wheels. I also want a fairly high ground clearance, at least around 12-15 cm (5-6") even with a full fairing underneath the trike frame, to be able to clear speed bumps. They're everywhere here! They're probably short enough for a trike to completely "straddle" them, so the ground clearance has to allow a high speed bump without damaging the fairing or frame.

I'm aiming for a wide track, at least around 90 cm (~36") or so. But I'll probably have to revise and rethink some aspects when I've used an unfaired trike for a while.
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Old 07-07-10, 07:55 PM
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That's a pretty ambitious project.

It will be interesting to see how the design morphs as you get more into it. No matter what, you are going to learn a ton stuff that you probably don't realize even exists today. Don't wait to get started. My advice is to start taking baby steps today.

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Old 07-07-10, 08:11 PM
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Sounds like a very interesting project. I hope that a member of your family is willing to take photos and post them on the web.

Don't forget air-conditioning! I heard that velomobiles need to be ventilated in warm weather to keep the rider cool. You'll need some kind of air-conditioning when the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light too.
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Old 07-07-10, 10:18 PM
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We only have warm weather about 3-4 months a year...
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Old 07-07-10, 10:30 PM
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My new Mango Sport from Sinner is great and I love it. It is 406 wheels and I use Schwalbe Kojaks 35mm.


It has the control yoke you want:


I handle speed bumps fine, just go up and over them. It is a ton of fun and I think you will enjoy your project as well.
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Old 07-08-10, 02:29 PM
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Here's a rough idea of the general layout and shape:

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Old 07-09-10, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
Here's a rough idea of the general layout and shape:

Looks very similar to what I was building 27 years ago:

https://home.comcast.net/~jeff_wills/aerocoupe/index.htm



One of the reasons that velomobile and trike builders use 20" front wheels (or on all 3 wheels) is that the front wheels take most of the cornering forces. We collapsed several 20" front wheels before we started building them with very heavy spokes. 26" wheels on the front will be very weak or very heavy. I recommend you try them out with a basic trike frame before building a velomobile with them.
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Old 07-10-10, 12:17 AM
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Great photo Jeff! Appears to have very useful rear storage. Mine has under seat storage- not to cool messing up the steering when the full load moves.
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Old 07-10-10, 06:39 PM
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30 years ago velomobiles were a dream- the Vector started it for me- I was quite happy with my frying pan helmet, chrome fenders, and European reflectors. 1980 Santa Cruz, CA.:
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