Let’s get this out of the way. The PodRide is pretty much crazy. That said, the fully enclosed multi-wheel recumbent bike was designed to be protected from the weather, to be a more comfortable way to commute by bike in all seasons. With a shell designed to look like a miniature car, it is without a doubt crazy looking, but inside it packs a lot of the logical features of a multi-wheel recumbent bike as a viable alternate to driving and with a small e-bike motor making even more sense. Its Swedish designer Mikael Kjellman crowdfunded the concept’s development based on this working prototype last year and is now working on building a version that you might be able to buy before the end of 2017.
And in the meantime, watching him ride the thing on a frozen pond and over his local dirt jumps is sure to put a smile on your face, like it did for us…
The PodRide is all about pedaling anywhere you need to go in any weather. It is designed for an upright riding position so it is visible on the road amongst cars, but is also narrow enough to stick to the bike paths or the odd bit of trail. While it looks nothing like a bicycle, it is pedal-powered and shares a lot with three (or more) wheeled recumbents.
This version that Kjellman developed for his prototype uses 4 wheels for stability, and gets a bit of electronic assist care of a 250W e-bike motor at the crankset. It also tops out with the electric motor support at 25km/h which means it is classified in Europe as an e-bike, so can be ridden on both roads and cycle paths.
This is the version of the PodRide that is being further developed now, and is expected to be available at the end of this year to buy.
In the US & Canada 4 wheels + a motor kicks the PodRide out of the e-bike category in most instances, so for North American customers two alternate versions will be available. At first a non-motorized version without the e-bike motor will be available at the same time as the powered EU version. Then a second 3-wheel e-bike version will be available a few months later.
The development now is focusing on how to take the current working prototype and recreate it with a construction that will be lighter weight, more efficient to produce in quantity, and be easier to transport than the current welded steel structure. The PodRide is also getting a slightly larger cargo area that will make it possible to carry a kid inside too (not just strapped in a trailer like in the prototype.)
Overall with its 20″ wheel platform, the PodRide is just 196cm long, which makes it shorter than many DH bikes, but just about 6cm longer than my XC bike. It’s 75cm wide, which again puts it in between the normal width of handlebars you’d find on a mountain bike, but a fair bit wider than most commuters. It will still fit through most doors though. The prototype weights 70kg, but the production goal is to get that at least under 60kg & maybe under 50kg.
To steer the thing, you get two control sticks on either side of the large padded seat, that also hold the brake levers to manage the front & rear discs and a grip shift for its CVT internal hub that drives the rear wheels.
Getting in and out you flip forward the canopy, then once inside you can pedal around town no matter how cold or wet it gets outside. Operable windows and a vented windshield (with a hand-operated windshield wiper) keep you comfortable no matter the weather. And outside LED headlights, taillights and turn signals make sure you are seen on the road.
A lot of details like battery size, ultimate e-assist range (current version is good for ~60km), weight, and the all important pricing are still completely up in the air as the growing ProRide company sorts out bringing the thing to market.
We can’t get over watching this thing bounce around on the local dirt jumps. #doabackflip
It seems surprisingly fun and capable in the snow & on ice too. #icydonuts
If any or all of that still sounds
crazy awesome enough to be a good great idea, you can still get in as an early backer. Through their ongoing Indiegogo campaign, you can still contribute to support the PodRide’s development and locking in up to 10% off of the retail cost once it is available.