Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Velomobiles

I have long had a fascination with velomobiles and the person who must carry the blame above all else is David Hembrow. Yep, David, your writings, photos and videos of your Sinner Mango has had me decidedly green with envy several times over!

Call me over-optimistic, but I honestly believe that a fully enclosed velomobile offers a far better commuting choice than a car to all those that wouldn't want to cycle. After all, it's weather-proof, has oodles of luggage space. And then there's the aerodynamics, which can allow you to travel very fast indeed.

Now don't get me wrong: I love cycling and that will never change. But at the same time I'd absolutely love to be able to go tearing down the road on a velomobile.

Earlier today, for reasons that have nothing at all to do with cycling, I was in Torpoint. Torpoint is a little Cornish village just over the Tamar river and Europe's largest chain ferries connect it to Plymouth. Whilst in Torpoint, I saw an absolute beauty of a velomobile. All sleek and glossy black, I just had to find out more.

As it turns out, I was looking at a working prototype called the Challenger, made by a man called Marcin Szewczyk, owner of Ocean Cycle Composites. Do yourself a favour and go have a look at his web site: www.oceancycle.co.uk.

Now Marcin doesn't actually manufacture the entire velomobile. Instead, he makes the shell, which fits around a trike built by ICE Trikes, another Cornish company. And while Marcin's prototype Challenger lacks these, he says the production models will have head and tail lights. Other than this, his prototype looks like a fully finished product and after having looked at it I'd never had thought it was a prototype.