Anyone ever motored a Velomobile?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by solorbob, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. solorbob

    solorbob New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015

  2. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member

    Motorized velomobile

    That's what I'm doing, but with a partial fairing for ease of entry.
    I am not done with my project yet, but I fianlly got my Staton motor kit (very cool) and I'm machining a half axle for the drive gear. Next I sculpt up the fairings. A simple 1 page website is up right now but will be developed better later. Most velomobiles go for about $13000.

  3. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    GA, what prototyping method are you using for your fairing/enclosure?

    Fiberglass on foam, lost foam, carbon/resin, carbon/carbon, or one of the other possibilities? In terms of weight/strength trade-offs I like tensioned fabric/resin skins, but they are somewhat of a pain to build.
  4. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member


    I'll be sculpting with wood guides and foam blocks, topped off with a coat of fiberglass and bondo to get a smooth finish. I'll make a fiberglass mold using hand lay up methods followed by chopped glass from my chopper gun.

    The first set of parts to come out of the mold will be done with the chopper gun to see how heavy they are. They'll weigh more than hand lay up, but may cost less due to labor expense. If I was making another streamlined racer, I'd use hand lay up for sure, but since I've got the power of a motor, a few extra pounds shouldn't affect the vehicle greatly.

    The windshield is a standard Honda Goldwing replacement and the lights are from a brand new scooter design.

    It's going to be fun!

  5. levsmith

    levsmith Member

    Hmm very cool. Im interested in seeing it when its done. Is the engine going to be in the back, under the storage? And if so, how are you going to keep it cool. Looks very interesting.
  6. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member

    Keeping it cool


    The motor is not represented in the drawing on my webpage, but the Honda engine mounts to a Staton gearbox at the approximate level of the rear axles, directly underneath the rear tail fairing/storage box. There will be plenty of air flow passing under the cyclist to keep the engine cool.

    The nice thing about having a fiberglass manufacturing company ( is that I can make any shape that I want. Other models/options will eventually be available. If I need to mold a specific type of scoop to increase airflow onto the motor, I can do it quickly and easily.

    I spoke with a friend of mine that is famous in the world of streamlined bicycle racing about using one of his racing fairing designs to offer a super tricked out version of the Goblin and he is on board. That might be 8-10 months from now, but will certainly be an interesting offering. Using human power alone, he has unofficially gone 85 mph in the fairing whose design I will use. Hmm... perhaps a run at Bonneville is due in a couple of years?!

    Sam Whittingham's official speed of just over 82mph on human power alone is staggering and was established as the new world record just a few weeks ago. I was a racer along with Sam in 2003 at the WHPSC (World Human Powered Speed Chamionships) and was an announcer for the spectators when Sam blew his front tire and logged the fastest crash on level ground under human power at 78 mph. His fairing skipped along the pavement like a stone on water and he ended up a few yards off the highway in a desert shrub. He was removed from the streamlined fairing shaken, but not stirred. He only had a small scrape near an eye. Sam Whittingham is one of the toughest bike racers out there. He has a small, but strong physique, and a bad-*** attitude. Only half of me would fit into the streamlined recumbent racing bike that he rides. Sam doesn't make a very big hole in the air as he zips along. Aerodynamics are king. Combine that with the large amount of power that Sam can generate and you've got a real winner.

  7. Email

    Email Member


    I love the position you are in to make this happen. These will be sweet rides, but I do have a few questions.

    1) I noticed a lot of the other "registration required" elements were there but did not see a VIN in the list. Are you adding VIN numbers to them by any chance, for those of us in States that require registration as a motorcycle (for me, that's Alabama)?

    2) How good is the stability? Did you have to widen the wheel footprint any? How good is the turning radius, and is it easy for a novice to flip? Even if you get used to riding your Goblin, someone else will want to try it for a spin so stability is a important aspect to me.

    3) I know it has a lockable trunk, but does it have any built in anti-theft measures, like a few keyed frame locks to prevent steering, chain from moving, or wheels from turning? The frame locks I am talking about are built into the frame tube and slide in and out via the key. I saw one on a bike once that was on E-bay that prevented a rider from turning the handlebars. Here's one example for wheel lock, from ID.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  8. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member

    RE: few questions

    Good questions!

    1) As far as "registration required" goes... every user will need to confirm their local laws. I'll post links to laws on the 'net, eventually, for reference sake. It is available with a smaller 35cc Honda motor that can make it usable without registration in many states. I may even register mine as a motorized cycle in Arizona to legally exceed 35mph on occasion (it will be under the 5hp limit and it has the proper lighting and windscreen for no goggle requirement). The basic trike that I base the GoblinAero upon has a VIN style serial number stamped into the frame on the underside near the head tube.

    2) The trike itself is in its completely 'stock' format. The rear wheels are canted outward at an angle to improve stability. It is surprisingly stable. It has to be 'obviously pushed' to unsafe conditions to get it to go onto 2 wheels, and even then you have control. A novice shouldn't have a problem with stability. A novice should be able to get in and motor away with confidence, safely. I am personally amazed at the stability. I have had friends attempt to put it into a dangerous situation, and they were also impressed that they had to do something intentional to bring one rear wheel off of the pavement for even a brief, yet controlled period of time. The turning radius is quite small for amazing, same lane u-turns. With your hands down at your sides, control is comfortable, stable and predictable. When I ride the trike at speed under my own power, I intentionally put myself into situations to mimic safety maneuvers and I have yet to experience problems. I put 1,then 2, then all 3 wheels off of the road into gravel, sand and mud and have maintained stability. With the original motor kit that I had to return to Dimension Edge (in my opinion, horrible quality issues) I was able to get the trike up to 40mph a few times and put it into gravel at speed, maintaining stability. Being a 'guinea pig' can be fun. My original unit will be the same as any production unit and will be available for test rides. I will commute on the GoblinAero to promote the brand and get it into television programs that focus on 'green' industries and alternative vehicles.

    3) As far as security goes, it does not have a frame style lock. There are impressive motor scooter style lock systems on the market that are incredibly tough. One idea just now popped into my head... a rider could make the GoblinAero inoperable by attaching a pick-up truck sized steering wheel locking bar to a rear wheel.

    Thanks for the questions.

    Jeff in Tucson
  9. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    The side steering is an issue.

    I realize it isn't such for the very large majority of riders, but take a look around this board. For me it is an issue because I have just one partially functional hand - but I have nearly 41 years practice dealing with that limitation. I still wouldn't try to ride a side steering recumbent more than a few yards.

    I said take a look around the board for a specific reason - a whole lot of the members here are older folks, just getting older all the time. The incidence of joint deterioration, strokes, etc is going to go up as the population ages. Which means ever more folks who might like such a vehicle as a way to continue riding are NOT going to be comfortable trying to cope with the steering.
  10. az cra-z

    az cra-z Guest

    Turn "The Club" into a "boot". Great idea! I love it!!
  11. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member


    Hello SS,

    'Sorry to hear about the limited mobility in one of your hands. Having been hit by a full size pick up truck while riding a bicycle, I understand the issue of limitations. There are still things that I have issues with today, even though the accident was in 1997. I admire your drive to not let it get in your way.

    My following comments are not about you specifically, but are generalized. Not all generalizations can be applied to everyone.

    Overall, recumbent bicycles and tricycles are far more comfortable, faster and stable than regular bicycles on paved surfaces. Like any other product they have their limitations, for example, they don't do that well on severe mountain bike trails.

    The USS (under seat steering) of the GoblinAero is the preferred type of steering for many users of recumbent cycles due to ease of use and stability. OSS (over the seat steering) can still be an effective steering system, but can cause the user's hands to go numb on long distance rides and may have a serious 'tiller effect'. As many riders know, the handlebars of diamond frame bikes (regular bicycles) can cause numbness and nerve damage in the hands and neck. The handlebars of the USS system on the GoblinAero are based upon standard handle bar tubing and can be lengthened and accessorized just like regular handle bars. A user could increase the length and even angle them to go inward or outward.

    Older riders typically find recumbent bicycles easier to ride and far more comfortable than standard bicycles. It is typically easier to get on and off of a non-racer style recumbent cycle. Many older riders' joint issues were actually *caused* by riding standard bicycles and find relief when they discover the comforts of riding in a recumbent position, just like the La-Z-Boy recliner at home. The seats of standard bicycles have been shown to contribute to the development of prostate cancer in men, and other 'plumbing' issues in women. We weren't meant to have a saddle pounding away at our prostate gland for long periods of time. In reports that I've read, high frequency vibration causes prostate glands to change. Incredibly, about 8 years ago, a major article was printed in Bicycling Magazine, written by a team of doctors, that pointed out the link between standard bicycle seats and the occurence of prostate cancer in male cyclists.

    Perhaps if you try again to ride an USS recumbent (but this time with the benefit of an extra wheel... trike) you'll find that it is comfortable.

    Most folks have never ridden recumbents. They are rare, but should not be. They are gaining in popularity, though. Over the last 10 years, they are the fastest growing segment in the bicycle industry.

    Why are recumbent bicycles rare? Back in 1934 a B class rated French racer rode one of the first recumbent bicycles to victory again and again setting new world records, defeating champions from around the world on their standard bicycles (remember, aerodynamics are king). The UCI (organization that regulates bicycle racing) banned recumbents from racing a few years later, stating that they were not bicycles. To this day, you won't see recumbents in big races like the Tour de France because they are too fast. Unfortunately, the UCI board back in 1934 (and through to today) is staffed with owners of/investors in major bicycle manufacturers. In my opinion, these board members basically do not understand recumbent bicycles and fear the losses they would incur if they had their type of bicycles trounced in races. Bicycle racing is just like any other type of racing... it's about the money. Back in '97 (approx) my question to the president of the UCI was featured on UCI's website. It was one of just a few that were posted. I asked him why the UCI continues to ban recumbents due to fear of loss of revenues and he skirted around my question by declaring that they weren't bicycles and that they had their own capability to put together their own races. The UCI maintains that they are the organization for all bicycles, yet exclude recumbent bicycles. Major bicycle manufacturers have never had success with the manufacture of recumbent cycles. A couple have tried, but their offering was terrible in design and completely flopped in the marketplace.

    When most folks see a recumbent going down the street, it is usually a more entry level bike, ridden by an older person. This has led to lots of people thinking that they are etiher slow, or for people with special needs. While any bike can be ridden slowly, and recumbent cycles are in general much better for those with special needs, they definitely can be the fastest, most comfortable, and safest types of bicycles to ride on pavement. If you're in a serious accident on a standard bicycle, what do you hit with first? Your head. If you're in a serious accident on a recumbent bicycle, what do you hit with first? Your feet.

    I no longer ride standard style bicycles, except for my fully suspended mountain bike that I use for... well... mountain bike riding. It causes me a fair amount of pain in my wrists and neck (especially since being hit by that truck). It is still a blast to ride, though. I have a super squishy and wide seat on it to help with the impacts.

    I don't fault users of standard bikes for their choice to ride one. Some people are just not interested in trying something different than what they've ridden for years. Some people like to stare down at the road as they ride. Some people like the cruiser version of a standard bike to improve the way that they can see vs. a bike with a racing position. Some people think that recumbent bicycles just plain look stupid and don't want to be seen on one. Some people like to 'bunny hop' over curbs with their standard bike. Some people like standard bicycles better.

    I can't hold my head up for very long while riding a standard bike due to my previous whiplash injury, so a standard bike makes me look down most of the time. I enjoy the recliner type of comfort afforded by a recumbent and like to see the world going by. A problem with many recumbents is cost. Due to the more limited manufacture of recumbent bicycles, the cost is typically high compared to most regular bicycles. A good bet is to buy a used unit or a new unit made in Taiwan (Sun bicycles line). The GoblinAero is based upon the Sun EZ HD trike. As a new trike, just the trike costs $1200 at retail, but that's a smokin' deal with the incredible build quality, super tough wheels/tires, suspended frame and upholstered adjustable seat. You can find trikes like these for around $800 used on eBay. Similar ones without suspension can go for around $450. Cost alone can be a good reason to not purchase a recumbent bicycle! In my case, I saved my money for a few years to be able to afford my first one which was a short wheelbase recumbent bicycle that went for $2,000. It was very, very fast. I won sprint races with that bike and a cheap coroplast fairing in velodromes at almost 42mph. The trike that the GoblinAero is based upon is a slow beastie under human power. It is heavy (65 lbs), heavy duty and built for heavy riders. It delivers comfort, safety, and a strong enough frame to mount stuff like a motor kit and fairings to... ideal for what I need.

    Ooops, it's time to get off of my soapbox now.

  12. Mairead

    Mairead New Member

    Goblin, I think you might have misunderstood Simon. I believe his situation is that he has one hand rather than two, and that his one hand has limited functionality (I hope he'll correct me if I'm the one who misunderstood :) )

    I'm a retired human-factors nerd. The problems with diamond-frame bikes are, in general, due to them being badly designed for everyday use.

    They're nearly all laid out as though for use in racing, even though they're never used for that purpose and would be far too heavy anyway. But riders put up with having to bend their backs, constrict their breathing and range of vision, put weight on parts of their bodies not evolved for weight-bearing, and so forth - just as though they were competing in the Tour de France! Only instead of doing it for the chance at a big fat monetary reward, or at least bragging rights, they do it for nothing but whatever injuries they can inflict on themselves.

    I've modified my push-bikes so that I sit upright, with all my weight on the loadbearing bones in my butt. My hands do only what they're evolved to do: provide delicate control. I can see what's going on in front of me and around me without cranking my neck backward. And I nevertheless travel at 3 to 5 times my best walking pace and can do so indefinitely without injury. Which, surely, is the whole purpose of everyday cycling?

    I've not researched it, but intuitively I suspect you might not be correct about underseat steering. From what I can tell by looking, that style of steering, unadapted, would be very stressful for anyone with circulation problems, arthritis, limited range of motion - or a single hand. And I'm not sure whether it could be successfully adapted.

    I believe there's considerable evidence that delta trikes are not very good at remaining under control during an emergency stop while turning. Have you investigated that, since your website indicates that's the format you're planning to offer?
  13. GoblinAero

    GoblinAero Member


    Yep, I understand that Simon has limited use of one hand. I've read many of his posts and like his presence on this forum. I wanted to point out that recumbent cycles and possibly under seat steering can actually be the best solution for limited mobility users. It may be called under seat steering, but it is actually 'beside-the-hips' steering.

    When it comes to ease of use by someone with limited abilities (and again, this is a generalization like my last post) what is more comfortable and easy to use... having your hands relaxed at your sides or up in front of you like a praying mantis? Some may find either position more comfortable than the other. It is easy to adapt the style of steering on the GoblinAero to most personal needs.

    I understand the points that you make. I used to think the same thing about delta trikes. Many new delta trikes on the market are a different type of deal, though. A lower center of gravity, canted rear wheels, etc., has made quite an improvement. Old standards are challenged every once in a while, and they need to be experienced to be believed.

    Having 2 wheels in front is typically more stable, but a car with massive training wheels sticking out of its sides is also more stable in a high speed turn than a car that doesn't have them. It gets to be a point of how much stability is enough. We drive around cars without giant training wheels sticking out because the handling is good enough. There are no affordable tadpole trikes (2 wheels in front) on the market that have a 'traffic appropriate' ride height. I am so impressed with the stability of the EZ HD delta trike (2 wheels in back) that I am satisfied with its use as daily transportation, to be used safely on the streets. For years, other riders have proven that the trike is very safe and, well, riders love the thing. The GoblinAero is not designed to be used at speeds of 55 mph, either. It is to be used at lower speeds. If 2 recumbent cyclists, 1 using a tadpole trike and another user on a newly designed delta trike, both took a sharp corner at 55 mph and both had to stop in a hurry, both would be doing something stupid, both would have to change their pants, and both might wreck, or not wreck. The tadpole trike user might get jammed udnerneath a car, the delta trike user might hit the trunk of a car. Many tadpole trikes have one brake for the left wheel and one brake for the right wheel (and no brake at all on the rear wheel), meaning that emergency stops can be really 'interesting', requiring immediate and careful modulation of each brake handle in an attempt to stop in a hurry. Apply the brakes wrong and you can go left or right due to the brake steer. On a EZ HD trike there are 2 disc brakes on the back wheels that are applied at the same rate, meaning that you have safe control under heavy and immediate braking. There is also a brake on the front wheel, meaning that there is more braking capabilty than many tadpole trikes. The EZ HD trike stops very quickly and safely. There are too many variables out there and riders have to use their heads and drive responsibly, no matter what they ride.

    Here's a real-world comparison:
    I have ridden the EZ HD on a bike trail with a friend, Justin, that has the Catrike 700 tadpole trike. He is low to the ground and fast. We were riding at about 18 mph when a mother with a stroller stepped right out in front of us without looking. Justin braked hard and his trike stopped quickly, but he had a little bit of left, right, left action that he had to deal with and his rear wheel went tipping up into the air, almost 1 1/2 feet up. He was almost thrown from his seat. I also braked hard and stopped effortlessly, with no dramatics. I had complete control of steer. There was no tipping of my trike on the minor turn that we were on. All 3 of my wheels braked hard. I stopped faster than Justin did. There was more space between us after we came to a stop than there was when we were riding. Justin's rear wheel had to be trued after that incident because it came down hard with a little bit of sideways action. My trike thought the occurence was no big deal.

    The trike that the GoblinAero is based upon has become the most popular recumbent trike on the market (based upon sales) due to its ease of use and stability. There's a reason for its popularity and its not because 1000 people per day die by applying the brakes in a turn. Obviously, I'm being facetious, but I hope that you get my point. The trike is very stable.

    I am an industrial designer with ergonomics experience myself. It's nice to see another weirdo on this forum with me. =)