Testing a Bluevelo Carbon Quest with Carbon Hardtop

I recently attended a local time trial where we tested a new carbon fiber hard top for a Bluevelo Carbon Quest Velomobile. My 72 year old father Ray has been riding his Quest with the kayak style skirt over the last few weeks of the summer in this event which gave us some good comparison data to work with. On the day of the ride the wind was blowing hard making for a challenging day especially for the cyclists. Despite the conditions Ray set a personal best by 20 seconds which strongly suggests the hardtop does add an aerodynamic advantage for high speed events on a day where the other riders were a minute or more slower than usual. However,  we also replaced his 53t front chain ring with a 56t for the event so a lot more research will need to be done to eliminate that variable and give us some reliable test data. I’m very much looking forward to collecting that data.  In the meantime enjoy this short video and get out riding! By the way his average speed in a really tough wind was 38.85 kph over a distance 16km distance so I’m sure he will soon break the 40kph mark.

Two things you must know if you own a bike.

Hello fellow riders. My name is Randy and I’m a certified professional bicycle mechanic. Every year at this time I get flooded with calls for tune-ups and unfortunately a ton of repairs. I don’t advertise my hobby/business, I just kind of told two friends, who told two friends and so on….. Now I’m busier than I want to be and inevitably because I can’t say no to anyone who wants to ride their bike, my garage looks like this.

It’s time to break this cycle of madness by letting everyone know how to keep their bike out of my garage and on the road instead. Here is a very short and simple list of two things that will save you from prematurely having to send your ride to bike heaven for a repair bill that exceeds its’ value. Following this advice and staying on top of regular tune-ups and maintenance are the key to a long and wonderful relationship with your bike.

1. Keep your bike dry! Never put your bike away wet! Tools and parts: A towel.

I realized how silly this sounds, but if I didn’t think it needed to be said, I wouldn’t waste your time. I’ve seen it time and time again. People bring me bikes constantly that have stiff brakes and shifting mechanisms, the chains are prematurely worn from rust, and in many cases, the rims are rusted out. The more modern the bike, the less things that will rust due to modern materials but I guarantee whatever you ride, your components contain very small and delicate springs and parts that will corrode when exposed to water. The solution is simple, keep your bike out of the elements when your not on it. Constant exposure to rain or even the morning dew will quickly deteriorate your bike and the seals that keep water out of your components. If a garage or shed is not possible, keep it covered with a waterproof tarp. If you do ride in the rain or wet weather simply give it a couple good bounces when you get off to shake the water from your chain and drive train, and towel dry finishing with the chain, rear cassette, front chainrings and the area around your bottom bracket. Congratulations, you now know how to avoid the most common reason I have to tell people their bike is going to cast more to repair than it’s worth.

2. Change a worn chain before it’s too late. Tools and parts: chain wear gauge

I can’t stress enough how important a chain wear gauge is to any bike owner. Simply put, your chain has a limited life span that must be monitored. If you ride beyond that limit, your entire drive train will very quickly wear to match the chain wear and instead of replacing a $20-$30 chain, you will soon need a complete minimum $150-$900 drive train replacement depending on your bike’s components. What happens is as you use your chain, all the small connecting rivets wear down causing a lengthening of the chain know as “chain stretch”. Your front chainrings and rear cassette will wear to match the longer length of the worn chain until the teeth deform to the point that they will no longer be able to hold the chain under high pressure or will grab the chain and pull it up into the chainrings and rear cassette (chain suck). Once your chain goes past it’s maximum wear point for replacement, you can no longer put a new chain as it won’t hold under pressure with the worn drive train. There is no way to know when you need to replace the chain other than using a chain wear gauge. They are an inexpensive tool that every bike owner should know is as important as a helmet or tire pump. If you do need to replace your chain, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. My next post will walk you though doing it yourself to save money.

That’s it! If you want to get yourself a chain wear gauge here’s the link to the one I use every day:
Park Chain Checker – CC-2, Shop Tool
or if you’re on a really tight budget you could try this one but I can’t vouch for its’ accuracy:
Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator

I always buy “Park Tools” because they are by far the best and will last a lifetime if treated properly. Every time I’ve gone with another brand of tool I’ve regretted it. I suggest Amazon for the best combination of price, consistency and efficient delivery. Have a great day and enjoy the ride!

P. S. How to use and read your chain gauge

The Park Chain Checker – CC-2 has a trigger style lever which you initially set to zero as the starting position. You then simply place the checker on the top of the chain so the 2 pins on either end are both in the space between the plates of the chain links. Lightly depress the lever until it stops. Don’t apply too much pressure or you risk bending the measuring pins on the tool. Look through the window on the tool to get your chain wear reading.

<0.5 = new chain, 0.5 – 0.75 = normal range of wear, change chain at 0.75

0.75 – 0.9 = You can still put on a new chain but shifting becomes sluggish and more inconsistent the higher the reading. A new chain may or may not hold as  wear approaches 0.9

>0.9 = A new chain will almost certainly slip off the teeth of the worn drive train. Your old chain and drive train are now destined to eventually slip which is a very scary feeling and sound, also dangerous if you lose your balance, or suck up into your front derailleur causing damage. There’s no way to know when it will happen, just that it will. Shifting will also be very poor. I unfortunately recommend a drive train and chain replacement at this point.

 

 

Bluevelo Hornet Video

Here is a video of the newest electric assist velomobile, the e-Hornet by Bluevelo. I have found this to be an amazing zero emissions way of efficiently commuting to work and getting around town. Be sure to notice the number of heads that turn to understand the advertising potential for this unique vehicle. The Hornet is nothing less than the ultimate rolling billboard with an added advantage of being able to go wherever the action is.

 


 

Human-Electric Hybrid Velomobiling 101

What a fantastic time we are living in. This is an era where incredible technology and modern philosophies about energy conservation and pollution free transportation are working together to make the seemingly impossible possible. For those who embrace an active and healthy lifestyle, are concerned with the welfare of our planet, and like to go really fast I present to you the sport of Human-Electric Hybrid Velomobiling.

I have recently had the pleasure of acquiring the first production e-Hornet Velomobile from Bluevelo and it has literally been a life changing experience. This compact electric assist vehicle has in most situations replaced both my car and my road bike to become my primary means of both transportation and sport riding. Commuting 10.9kms to work used to take me 14 minutes by car. My e-Hornet commute is instead a 25 minute petroleum and emission free experience with the added bonus of an awesome feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment. Heading to work is mildly uphill and seeing as I don’t want to sweat much I tend to go fairly heavy on the throttle of the Power in Motion electric motor. Keeping true to my personal philosophy of “human-electric hybrid velomobiling” I pedal along with the motor at a comfortable cruising pace to both conserve on the output of the battery and get my blood flowing. Even though I could easily go the distance at a governed speed of 32kph without so much as a turn of the pedals I have vowed to never ride the Hornet in that manner.

I find cars are very respectful of my space and feed me endless smiles and thumbs up as they pass. I’ve gotten very accustomed to riding in harmony with in town traffic as my assist motor affords me very quick acceleration from traffic light to traffic light. Getting back on topic my commute home is a very different animal from my ride to work. No longer concerned with my body temperature or energy conservation, sometimes I chose to forget the motor altogether and speed home aux natural so to speak. Other times I’m feeling all about the speed so I pedal gently with the motor during the inclines and under acceleration and really put the hammer down on the downhills or with any tailwind. Most my ride home is spent in excess of 40 and even 50kph in these cases. The feeling of exhilaration when you throttle off and propel yourself  beyond the limiter of the motor is completely indescribable. I’m going to loosely define this style of high speed, short distance riding as “Sprint Hybrid Velomobiling”. The mission is to complete a relatively short distance at the highest speed possible in a vehicle still classified as a legal bicycle with no concern for battery power conservation.

Their is another breed of HEHV (human-electric hybrid velomobile) rider who is concerned less with maximum short distance speed but instead is using these incredible vehicles to efficiently complete long distances at average speeds that are untouchable by road bikes or non-electric assist velos. For now I will refer to this riding style as “Endurance Hybrid Velomobiling”. By combining the rider’s own strength and endurance with an electric assist, the door is opened for riding in any conditions including very hilly terrain and even massive climbs. As always what goes up must come down and nothing descends faster than a velo leading to unheard of average riding speeds. There are a few great places to read about actual experiences of endurance hybrid velomobiling. Please take the time to check out this link to a post about a rider’s 30 mile commute in mountainous terrain. (click) It’s a great piece about how a rider in an electric assist Quest Velomobile balances his own endurance with battery conservation to complete a tremendously difficult ride.

I will continue to follow and report on the evolution of this great new sport as more people join the hybrid velomobile community. Please contact me with your own stories and videos and together we will work to increase the awareness of alternative energy transportation that really works. Thanks.

 

A Velomobile Story

As I’m driving to my Dad’s house the butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach. I can’t wait to slip into the cockpit of his Quest velomobile, a shiny yellow human-powered masterpiece built for the single purpose of going very fast. I’ve ridden it a few times before but never with the kind of conditioning required to realize even a hint of its’ potential. Today’s ride will be different though, at least in my mind having two good hard jogs and a couple road rides under my belt, surely I’m good to go this time. I arrive at my parents house and enter the garage code. The door slowly opens to reveal not one, but two magnificent machines, my dad’s Quest and a gorgeous carbon fiber Strada velomobile on loan for testing from my brother at Bluevelo. I’m torn for a moment about jumping in the Strada. Being lighter than the Quest it’s slightly quicker on uphill climbs, and my planned route does have some hills. I decide to go with my gut, today is about going really fast and even if the difference between the top speeds on a straight flat road is only about 1-3 km per hour, the Quest it is.

I stand at the end of the driveway, velo by my side. The main road there has a 50 km speed limit and tons of traffic. I can’t help but smile as people in cars glance over in awe, surprise, or confusion as they notice the Quest and try to process what it is. Okay, focus, I bend down to tighten up my new Louis Garneau cycling shoes, extremely excited about the extra power they will be sure to provide me in their first real ride since I bought them over a year ago. Here we go. I place my hands on each side of the cockpit, step in and slide smoothly down the back of the recumbent seat. The feeling as I lower the steering and control column into my lap and clip into the pedals is magical. The fit and feel is snug and tight, but comfortable though as I’m now part of the velomobile. As I mentioned before, today is all about speed so I pull the Kayak style skirt over the cockpit of the Quest and secure it in place so only my eyes and helmet are exposed through the smallest of openings. The Quest now resembles a long smooth drop of rain falling from the sky, nature’s ultimate design of aerodynamics. Everything is perfect. Time to go.

I roll out onto the bike lane beside the busy road, wait for a clearing and make a quick left onto a road that will take me out of town and into the country. Coming at me is a road cyclist. We exchange a token wave and nod as we pass. The road I’m on is straight with a gentle incline. As I begin to pick up speed, I quickly realize that I’m starting to get that familiar feeling I get each time I hop in the Quest. I know that seasoned velo riders are capable of maintaining speeds in excess of 40 km per hour for very long rides but as I approach 30 km per hour I am already starting to feel the burn about 3 minutes into my ride. Reality kicks in. I’m not only terribly out of shape but the muscles I’m using in this recumbent position are rebelling against being awakened from a deep slumber. Indeed I am a working part of this velomobile, however, the unfortunate realization hits me that I’m the engine of this beast. The sad truth is this Ferrari of velomobiles is equipped with a small 4 cylinder, not the screaming v12 is deserves. My expectations for this ride need to be seriously reconsidered.

Momentarily defeated and hovering around 30 km per hour I reach the bottom of a mild but long ascent that I know will at least bring me some relief when I finally reach the top and begin to descend. Only by chance do I catch a glance of something in my rear view mirror. It  would seem the road bike I so briefly and thoughtlessly exchanged pleasantries with earlier has turned around and is about 50 meters back. The perfect storm has rolled in. This of course is not a race, but at the same time the moment I hopped in the Quest I took on a responsibility of sorts to not be passed by road cyclists, no disrespect. I know the relatively heavy Quest compared to a road bike will put me at a disadvantage on the climb but I gear down and dig in none the less.  I’m actually surprised at how easily and smoothly the velo transfers my efforts to the pavement and up I go much faster than expected. As I approach the top of the climb I’m more than surprised that my pursuer, is still at my six. Coming over the top I glance in my rear view to see the road cyclist but 5 meters behind me. I keep my burning legs cranking as finally I start my descent and quickly work my way up through the gears. In no time the Quest has become a silent yellow missile flying down the road. At very high speeds the Quest handles beautifully, but in the hands of a relatively inexperienced rider like me, to say the velomobile is extremely responsive would be an understatement. I’m still pedaling hard and by now with a really fast cadence, the steering column in my lap is causing the Quest to twitch sharply left and right like a formula car in traffic. I can hear the wise words of my brother and dad saying “relax, calm your breathing and look far down the road”. The advice is wise indeed and the Quest stops fighting me as I settle in to a comfort zone and we rocket smoothly down the road. Only then do I dare glance down at the speedometer which reads 63kph. The road cyclist only a minute or so later was now at least 200 meters back. I continue for about another 1.5 kms never getting below 50 kph until I reach my turnaround point. As I head back home I can see my road riding friend about half a kilometer away. As we pass, our mutual nod is accompanied by a thumbs up as he acknowledges the awesome speed of this technological marvel. My ride home resembles the ride out as a slow but steady climb is rewarded once again with an incredible high speed descent.

I pull back into my parents driveway both exhausted and exhilarated. What is to be made of these velomobiles? Will they magically propel an out of shape average rider such as myself to record speeds, no. Are they faster than road bikes? With the exception of a mountain stage that starts at the bottom and ends at the top, absolutely.  I feel like I should make it clear that I am a big fan of road riding. It is an incredible sport that literally changes the lives of those brave enough to indulge.  Most importantly what should be taken from this story is the age of human powered transportation has arrived. These things are fast, comfortable and with the addition of electric assist, practical vehicles for any level of rider. One thing is guaranteed; when you climb out of a velomobile, it will be with a huge smile on your face.

Why Ride a Velomobile?

The million dollar question, or more accurately the $5500-$14000 dollar question has very few direct answers as you search around online. So here it is. In no particular order, here are 5 great reasons you would decide to ride a velomobile over riding a bicycle.


Strada Velomobile

1.                  Speed – The aerodynamic fairings (or shells) of velomobiles that are built to go fast like the Quest Velomobile for example are designed to create almost no drag as they slice through the wind. As wind resistance is absolutely the most important factor in limiting the speed of human powered transportation, velomobiles are capable if much faster speeds than conventional road and racing bicycles.

2.                  Protection From the Elements – Fully enclosed velomobiles like the Cab-Bike or kayak skirt type velos are quite effective for keeping you dry on rainy days. If you are using your Velomobile for transportation and commuting this is a very significant advantage. People who live in cooler climates will also have their riding season extended by months as velomobiles keep the rider’s body out of the wind and are quite warm within the shell on cold days.

3.                  Advertising Applications – The unique and eye catching character velomobiles make them ideal rolling billboards. If you have your own business to promote or wish to sell advertising space to supplement the cost of the velomobile, the potential for generating income is tremendous. You may even find that you can not only have the velomobile pay for itself, but become its own income stream over the long run.

4.                  Cargo Capacity – Just as some velomobiles are built for speed, others are built for the more Velos in Niagarapractical functions of day to day commuting and transportation. These models become extremely practical if combined with electric assist motors. For any one person trip, there is a lot of  money to be saved and emissions to be reduced by riding your velo over driving your car.

5.                  Fun – Until you get a chance to ride one yourself you’re just going to have to trust me that there is no greater feeling that riding a velomobile. Whether out for a casual cruise where you see people’s faces light up as they spot you going by, or seeing just how fast you can get to your destination, these vehicles are a blast.


Don’t get me wrong, I am as big a fan of the bicycle as anyone and I’m not suggesting for a moment that velomobiles are better than bicycles. These are simply some reasons why you might chose to spend the extra money to buy a Velomobile if you are the type of person who sees the value of human powered transportation. The important message here is to realize that there are alternatives to big and expensive gas burning vehicles. The more people use human energy for transportation the healthier both us and our planet will be.

To see the velomobiles that are available on my website and find information about me and how to contact us for information please visit www.velomobilepro.com.

Taking Flight in the New e-Hornet Velomobile

I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the newest original velomobile by Bluevelo. The e-Hornet is the end result of an ongoing research and development project to make velomobiles more affordable and accessible to everyone. This exciting new zero emissions vehicle has broken new ground on the velomobile community by coming in at a staggeringly low price of less than $6000 Cdn. This mission has been accomplished by foregoing some of the extremely high cost weight cutting procedures that are usually necessary to make a human powered vehicle efficient and functional. So how do you counteract this weight disadvantage? Easy, add an electric assist motor.

So who would be interested in riding an e- Hornet velomobile? Well people like me for one and I’ll tell you why. Firstly the price tag. Never before has a fully assembled commercial velomobile been available at such a low price even without the inclusion of an electric assist motor. The fact that it is made by Bluevelo, North America’s leading and highest quality manufacturer of velomobiles makes this new product even more ground breaking. Another great reason why I have chosen to go with the e-Hornet as my vehicle of choice is its’ show stopping good looks. This vehicle has incredible potential for generating income through advertising. Finally and most importantly is how fun and practical the e-Hornet is as an everyday commuter vehicle. With the electric assist motor the e-Hornet becomes a very functional alternative to day to day driving. Where I live in Ontario Canada and everywhere else I’m aware of in North America these vehicles are in the same classification as bicycles meaning no insurance is required for road riding. In combination with the saving on gas and potential advertising revenue, the cost advantage of riding a Velo to work instead of driving is astronomical. Not to mention the fitness advantage as an extra bonus. Be sure to keep checking in at www.velomobilepro.com for the new Hornet Velomobile listing that will be available in the very near future.

Quest Velomobile

The Quest Velomobile

This is what happens when you combine the thinking of extreme lightweight recumbent trike technology with supercar style and bobsled aerodynamics. The Quest is truly a marvel of engineering with one simple focus – converting human energy into raw speed.

Whether you are an avid recumbent rider or serious road cyclist, there is no experience that matches the rush of silently slicing through the wind under nothing but your own power. You will simply not believe the speeds this velomobile is capible of. Manufactured in Toronto Ontario by Bluevelo, the Quest is a flagship in the velomobile community.

There is a movement to increase the awareness of velomobiles in North America called “Roll Over America” with a cool website you should check out. Here is the link. www.rolloveramerica.eu. Be sure to have a look at the rider profiles and note the number of Quest Velomobiles in the event from all over the world. This is the velo of choice for serious riders providing the best value available in a high performance velomobile.

Bluevelo Quest

Quest Velomobile

Velomobile Pro for Business. A Fresh New Media.

Here is a great new advertising media. It’s so good because the impressions are very high in numbers like a rolling billboard with a giant bonus. Everyone that witnesses a velomobile fly by remembers the moment like they just saw their first Ferrari or Lamborghini. Viable human powered electric assist transportation in a world in need of a better way to get around. Check out this pic.

Spiaggia Velomobile

This velo was invited to ride in the Easter parade on the main street of the Beaches area of Toronto passing by Spiaggia Trattoria restaurant. I was recently invited to be a part of the “Keep Winter Cool” event for March break in the village at Blue Mountain in Collingwood. Last year they featured a solar powered D J to highlight a fantastic alternative energy inspired event. It happens each year during March break. What a perfect venue for a North American made human powered vehicle with the added advantage of turning heads and attracting attention for all the right reasons. Here’s a cool link to a 360 degree tour of a quest velomobile.

There are a number of great reasons to use velomobile advertising. Unlike a billboard, you can take your company themed wrapped velomobile to where the action is. They are always a welcome presence at high traffic events like parades, sporting and fitness themed events, or any promotional or community events. The vehicle itself is the perfect conversation piece as a means of zero-emissions transportation a time where everyone is looking for new ways to be environmentally friendly. They have tremendous functional value as company vehicles promoting your business as you or your

employees ride instead of drive to work. The optional electric assist motor makes this a realistic way of getting around without having to expend too much energy.

I can’t wait to keep everyone in the loop of the evolution and growth of the velomobile industry as I work to get as many people excited about this great product as I am. Aside from the limitless advertising potential and ecological value, these velomobiles are extremely fun to ride. It’s so far a small but very dedicated community of riders some of which have logged over 100 000 kms in their velos. My website highlighting all the business programs, velomobile models and options can be found at www.Velomobilepro.com.

Vinyl Wrapped Team Velomobile