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Chris.m01 10-21-2013 09:22 AM

Any Interest in Pedal-Eletric?

I'm working on a school project with an engineer who has an idea for a 3-wheeled pedal-electric vehicle.

Some key advantages of the vehicle would be:

-Fully enclosed body

-No license needed to drive (At least where we live)

-Inexpensive to operate

At this point many other details are still in development.

So my question for you is: Would this be useful?

Could you see yourself using something like this?

Do any of you currently use a pedal-electric vehicle? if so, what are the major pros/cons you have found with the vehicle?

How much range would be needed to make it worthwhile?

Would you trade weight and cost for convenience features? (sound deadening, lights etc..)

To give you an idea of some of the existing vehicles on the market, here are some:

-The Twike Electric Pedal Car

-Elf Electric Pedal Car

- Aerorider

Any help would be appreciated,


Ryland 10-21-2013 10:06 AM

Big con for a lot of people is speed, if it has 3 wheels and takes up enough space then it needs to be able to keep up with in town traffic, 35mph/55kmh but the USA Federal law limits electric bikes while under electric power to only 25mph and mopeds to 30mph in most states.
The loop hole tho is that you can pedal faster then that, the vehicle speed limit is while not pedaling, so if the throttle was controlled by pedaling then you could go as fast as the posted speed limit for the road and be legal.

You are also limited to a 750 watt motor for it to be a bicycle, this can be governed wattage that can be reset by the user of course, but if you are trying to sell it then it has to be limited.

It also has to be easy to get in and out of, the Twike is not easy, the Elf is easy but is not weather tight because it has no doors!

Advantage of it having a VIN and being licensed as a moped is parking.

NeilBlanchard 10-21-2013 01:37 PM

Hi Chris, and welcome to EM,

Yes, I would be interested in something like a Quest with electric assist, for sure. If is was a bit more upright (closer to the ELF) then that would be good. Solar PV on-the-road charging (like the ELF), as would decent use of regen for slowing down, but still allowing for free-wheel coasting.

That would be my ideal velomobile.

UltArc 10-21-2013 01:50 PM

Welcome, yes, and I look forward to looking the examples you posted up. :)

Chris.m01 10-21-2013 02:22 PM

Thanks for the replies guys :thumbup:

@ Ryland & NeilBlanchard - We're thinking of having a vehicle very similar to the Elf but better styled and with doors

@UltArc - I don't really understand what that means

Thanks again guys

UltArc 10-21-2013 07:50 PM


Originally Posted by Chris.m01 (Post 396313)
To give you an idea of some of the existing vehicles on the market, here are some:

-The Twike Electric Pedal Car

-Elf Electric Pedal Car

- Aerorider


Originally Posted by UltArc (Post 396335)
...I look forward to looking the examples you posted up...

You posted examples. I look forward to looking them up. It makes sense in my head, unless I misunderstood your original message.

Chris.m01 10-21-2013 08:28 PM


Originally Posted by UltArc (Post 396391)
You posted examples. I look forward to looking them up. It makes sense in my head, unless I misunderstood your original message.

Oh I see. I thought you were being sarcastic, hinting that I should have provided links (which I can't due to posts).

Anyway, Does anyone currently bike for their commute?

and if so, does this pedal-electric vehicle sound like an alternative?


bikin' Ed 10-21-2013 08:49 PM

pedal /electric makes
sense to about everybody here. I bike commute. Every fall I wish I had built the pedal/electric velomobile that I had thought of all of the previous winter.

BarelyAWake 10-21-2013 09:59 PM

While admittedly not the same as a velo trike, I've been commuting all season for years now & have 1000w pedal-electric bicycle, 27mph & 30mi range and there's really only one issue - corrosion.

The rest is preference & local law, the legality referenced above is not applicable as it's not Canadian and not enforced uniformly in the US either with each state having their own definition & restrictions from comparatively unregulated to banned outright - which as I understand is much the same as Canada, where each province has it's own active definition & enforcement, or lack thereof.

As for a velo trike, I've a three wheeled recumbent hybrid as well & TBH even aside from the corrosion & damage caused by winter use I wouldn't ride it in the ice & snow, it's simply not agile enough for the rural road conditions here, with the limited speed and the snow banks forcing you into the main roadway and such a light vehicle's reactions to running on such a rough surface as slush, snow drifts & ice ... having said that an upright velo trike may be just about perfect for winter urban use where the speeds are lower & the roads better cared for.

Riding in the north american winter is a touch challenging, not impossible by any means but any comfort gained in an inclosed vehicle of this scale would be a trade off in dexterity & there's not enough mass for stability - around here a velo in the winter would be just plow fodder, the agility of a dirtbike is about all that keeps my ebike out of the ditch lol... mostly.

euromodder 10-22-2013 06:06 AM

First thing : it's a niche, in a niche , in a niche market.

Trikes are still a rarity.
Enclosed trikes / velomobiles are an even greater rarity.
Those riding them usually ride them to combine training and commuting (with some weather protection) and/or for ecological reasons, so they usually don't add an engine.

The legal issues are high - with every country and many US states having different regulations.
In the EU,anything over 25 kph makes it a moped, with all the legal haggle that goes with it.
Over 1m wide, and you're banned from cycling paths.
Over 45 kph you're into motorcycle territory ... more haggling.

I don't have say a Velomobile with a BionX engine though I could easily afford one.
My main issue is where to put it - let alone where to charge it.
I'm a city dweller, I simply don't have the space to put it except out on the street.

To find easier acceptance than a velomobile, it'd need to be more practical to use.
Easier to get into.
More and better accessible baggage space.

It wouldn't be unlike the Elf.
But I'd still not have the space to park it, except out on the street ...

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