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

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, headlights

c. Podbike

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.

Tech details

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, grafitti

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.

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, night rendering

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.

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, rendering

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

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, angled port

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.

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, city center

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.

PodBike Frikar x Storck enclosed e-bike pedelec e-velomobile, side

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.

Podbike.com

12 comments

  1. mud on

    I think the biggest hurdle for vehicles like this is the recumbent position. One thing that gives me confidence riding in cities is the tall position an upright bike puts you in – you can see over cars and are more visible to them. Sitting so low, and in a shell that inhibits your outward view of everything, is not safe. You’re vision too is limited.

    Reply
  2. Mic on

    What is the point of this stupid thing why not just ride your bike or an ebike then? Just takes up more space in already crowded bike lanes, uses more plastic and has no advantages unless I’m missing something. Where I live in New York ebikes and the jerks who ride them have already RUINED cycling for those of f us who are serious about the sport and made the roadways, parkways, sidewalks and everywhere else totally dangerous and horrible.

    Reply
  3. Nic on

    Haters who are “serious about the sport” have mostly RUINED the appeal of cycling and ebikes for folks who might want to start riding…so it might be best to take the chip off your shoulder when out on the streets and be glad those ebike jerks aren’t driving 3-ton autos instead! I’d take one of these weirdomobiles in the bike lane any day over another monster truck on the road.

    Reply
  4. benito on

    with four wheels, it has to be more stable in poor weather. if they could somehow provide for better climate control for comfortable riding/driving in all seasons, this kind of concept could really be something

    Reply
  5. satanas on

    Could be viable in flat Northern Europe, where there are lots of dedicated cycle lanes and good driver behavior, but in hilly, congested places with aggro motorists (like here in Sydney, AU) – not so much.

    Reply
  6. JBikes on

    I don’t understand why this is 4 wheeled vs 3.
    It also just seems way to wasteful. Ride a normal bike when weather is good and use an existing leftover car or ride share when you don’t want to ride, rather than buying more waste.

    Reply
  7. Andrew on

    I’m sure ” an internal fan for better airflow especially in hot weather,” will be enough for summer days here in coastal Italy..

    Reply
  8. None Given on

    Never, not never ever. Not until there are pollution guidelines (followed) by the ENTIRE world will I willingly forsake my love of twin turbo V8 cars and SUV’s – until then, I will have fun when I drive (to the trails). If you are going to drive a station wagon, well, you may as well be faster than a Corvette Z06. (and offer to race any Tesla to a city 500mi away).

    Reply
  9. caz on

    For those who are spectacularly missing the point – this is being offered as an alternative to cars – it’s another type of all-abilities machine, which could really suit someone who finds an upright two-wheeler difficult to balance/ride. A nervous older person might well appreciate all that extra plastic shell/ protection. Those of us who live in rainy places know that it’s a big barrier to getting more people on bikes – this invention is one solution to that.

    Reply

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