Monday, July 24, 2017

My Radius T-T Velomobile Will Get Power Assist!

Hard to believe it's been three years since I completed my velomobile project.  In all this time it has been sitting mostly covered up in my garage to keep it as clean as possible.  It has seen very few miles in all that time simply because of circumstances mostly out of my control.  Major hour renovation, street reconstruction,  just to name a couple of big things that have kept the velo sequestered to a corner in my garage all this time.  

But things are about to change rather quickly now as I have placed an order for an electric assist to be used with the velo that will help me finally get the project out of the garage and on to the street after way to many years of sitting idle. 

One of the main problems in adding electric assist to the velo was simply finding something that would fit inside of the body shell, be easy to install, have decent power and rand plus be cost effective. These issues have been sorted out with the finding of a small powered trailer that is currently on order for the velo from the Ridekick company located in Fort Collins Colorado.  

The reason for my recent motorcycle trip to Colorado was to speak with Mark Wanger the designer of the trailer and owner of Ridekick International.  I met up with Mark shortly after I arrived in Ft. Collins and we set down and discussed his little lithium powered trailer.  I had contacted him last winter about the idea of using the trailer to help climb hills with my velomobile.  Velo's are notoriously slow going up hill as are most recumbent trikes as well so the idea of have a power assisted trailer seemed like a good idea.  Mark agreed with me on that so I was very happy to get his approval.  He had been reading my blog and seen the velomobile and thought I was on the right track.  

In the photo above you can see how small the trailer is.  Inside is a rechargeable lithium battery capable of moving an average person at speeds reaching 20 mph up to 35-40 miles on a standard bicycle.  This will change of course with the weight of the rider, the size of the hills, and of course the weight of the bicycle.  In my case the velomobile adds even more weight so the range I suspect will never reach the 35-40 mile mark.  I would be happy with half that distance as I need it mainly for climbing hills.

Another plus to the trailer over an above making things easier to move up hills is the fact that the trailer also has a generous amount of cargo space even with the battery installed.  I asked Mark at Ridekick about this and he said that you can easily hold three bags of groceries inside the trailer.  So it will be a plus again with the velo's limited storage capacity.

Also as you can see from the photo above the trailer is attached to the rear axle of the bicycles.  This was and issue for the velomobile as access to the rear axle is limited due to the body of the velo being in the way.  The tongue of the trailer would hit the body either in trying to hook it up or making a turn with it even if you could get it attached.

This will be the solution to the velo trailer hitch problem.  In the image above is the new hitch that I have designed for the new trailer that will move the mounting point rearward to allow easy access for connecting the trailer to the velo.  I spoke with Mark about the design and he again saw no problem with the setup so this will be the plan of action when I want to use the trailer. 

I had planned ahead with this portion of the project and completed construction of the velo hitch last winter.  The hitch arm is made up of several layers of plywood wrapped in fiberglass and then painted gloss black.  I have done this type of construction on earlier projects and the mount is very strong.  I think I could run over it with a car and still not break it.   The mounting holes have already been drilled into the arm for the steel vertical mounts so now it is just a matter of getting it put on to the velomobile.  This will take a little work but nothing that will be a real issue.

While visiting with Mark I made the remark that the trailer would be even better if it had fenders.  Mark said he had not gotten around to working on that idea but it had crossed his mind as well.  So this will be the first order of business once I get the trailer into my hands.  Pictured above is what my trailer would look like after I get the new fenders made for it.  The body will be painted red with a white racing stripe to somewhat match the color scheme that I have going on with the velo.  Along with possibly painting the tub and tongue black.  This part of the plan all depends on how difficult it will be to disassemble the trailer for painting.  Something I will not find out about again until it arrives in my hands.

The fenders  will be made of fiberglass with small reflectors at the rear. The fenders could even have signal lights on them but for now the reflectors will do nicely.  The signal lights could easily be added later if I decide to go that route. There are 3D printed mounts that will hold the fender to the hood of the trailer that will need to be made.  But I see no real issue again with this portion of the design. Again it will take some time but the design is simple enough to make and get the look that I have shown here.  Also the weight that will be added to the trailer is minimal so this will not be a problem either.

The plus side to having the fenders mounted to the hood is that should either tire need to be repaired because of a flat the fender will not need to be removed to fix it.  

I sent the these images of the trailer with my fender design to Mark at Ridekick and he once again has give a big thumbs up on the design.  So I now just have to wait hopefully only a few more weeks and I will get started on my upgrades to the trailer.  This will finally help me get the velo out of the garage and moving down the road after all the delays I've had over the years. When the trailer arrives and I start construction of the new fenders, paint and what not I will get another update put out. 

For those of you who are interested, here is a link to the Ridekick site for more information about this wonderful little trailer.

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