E-bikes are trying to find their way into our hearts on & off-road, but this new 4-wheeled, fully-enclosed Storck x PodBike Frikar e-velomobile just might be a viable solution for some looking to cut back on driving cars. It’s not really an e-bike – this recumbent has four wheels, after all. But it’s at least partly pedal-powered – mixing a bike drivetrain with an e-bike pedelec support. On the plus side, it looks kinda like a cross between a spaceship and a Prius, plus with a totally enclosed cabin, you are protected from the elements so you can ride whatever the weather.
Storck x PodBike Frikar enclosed e-bike velomobile
German bike company Storck and Norwegian micro-mobility start-up Podbike have teamed up to bring their Frikar e-velomobile to a larger market, providing an alternative transportation option for cyclists looking to get out of their cars for short trips. The 4-wheeled, fully-enclosed pedelec is not the first e-velomobile concept we’ve seen from an established bike company, but it looks like it could be one of the most viable solutions. Built on an innovative & simple bike-by-wire system, it also is more affordable than we expected.
The 20″ mag-wheeled Podbike Frikar is 2.36m long x 83.9cm wide x 1.19m tall, making it just a bit wider than a modern enduro bike’s handlebar. Even though it has 4 wheels and a shell, Podbike assures that it is classified as a ‘cycle’ within Europe, letting you ride in cycle lanes without any license or registration (much like the Canyon Future Mobility concept).
The 90kg (empty), fully independent suspension Frikar is powered by a pair of 25km/hr limited 250W e-bike motors. There is no mechanical link between the pedals & wheels, rather you pedal input into one motor/generator and the energy is transferred by wire to motors at both rear wheels to propel you – just like the “Bike By Wire” systems we reported on from IAA Mobility. The result is classification as an e-bike, with a design e-assist range of 50-80km and featuring regenerative braking.
The e-velomobile comes equipped with integrated headlights, taillights, operable turn signals & extensive reflectors, plus outside side mirror. It also has a cup holder!, plus phone/tablet holder & USB-charger inside, in addition to safety crumple zones and roll-over protection.
Interestingly, Podbike estimates that the aerodynamics of the shell should cancel out the additional weight & rolling resistance penalties making it require an average of about 100W from the rider to pedal along at 30km/hr, what they say is the same as a conventional road bike.
Optional extras already in development include a manual windshield wiper for better visibility in foul weather, an internal fan for better airflow especially in hot weather, a child seat that sits behind the driver, a towbar hook to attach a conventional bike trailer, additional studded winter tires, or extra batteries for extended range.
Podbike Frikar – Pricing, availability & options
This is always the trick with emerging technology… the Storck x Podbike Frikar e-velomobile isn’t ready quite yet – although pre-production Frikars are currently touring Norway & Germany offering test drives. Podbike are taking pre-orders now with a 300€ deposit to lock in a reservation for one of the first Frikars. Final prices will start at 4995€, not including VAT, shipping or extra-add-ons.
Still, that sounds surprisingly affordable when most e-bikes top out over $5000€ for a premium commuter hardtail. Pretty much every performance full-suspension eMTB we’ve seen starts around there, and often tops out over $10,000€. In fact, that’s also significantly cheaper than Storck’s recent smart, connected gravel/commuter e-bike project Cyklaer.
Full-scale final production is expected to start in about 12 months. Storck & Podbike say they already have over 3000 pre-orders, and are currently expecting to deliver the Frikar to those who place new pre-orders now sometime in 2023. Don’t throw away your car keys yet.