We all know bicycling is great for your health, great for your wallet, and most of the time, a lot of fun. But for those of us who reside in winter climates, bicycling through the colder months can admittedly be a little daunting. For many, the cold wind, sleet, and snow can be enough of a deterrent to cycling that they give up on riding altogether come winter, and trade in their bike for the relative comfort of a car.
Not willing to be bested by the weather, one Swedish inventor has come up with an ingenious prototype that he believes could be the solution for year-round cycling in cold climates. Mikael Kjellman’s PodRide is a four-wheeled “bicycle-car” that offers users the benefits of cycling without the unwanted exposure to the elements.
“The basic idea with PodRide is to have a greater protected and more comfortable bicycle,” Kjellman explains in his crowdfunding video. The machine essentially looks like a tiny car that just drove off of the set of a Dr. Seuss film, but open it up and you’ll find a recumbent e-bike for one. It has a top speed of 25km/h (15.5 mi/h) with the electric-assist on, making it a street legal e-bike in Sweden, as well as most other countries. The tiny little bike-car has a tight turning radius, making it viable for protected bike lanes and other space-cramped urban environments, and has a range of around 60 km (37 miles). It has electric drive on both rear wheels and a wide gear range so almost any rider can pedal it up a hill.
The PodRide takes the benefits of a bike but adds on the creature comforts of cruising around in an automobile. It seats the rider at the same height as a standard sedan, increasing cyclists’ visibility when navigating traffic. It has a small trunk to tuck away a few bags of groceries, and rear hitches to attach trailers if you want to bring your children or extra cargo along. The seat is padded and in a recumbent position, and steering is controlled by joysticks on either side, with integrated braking handles. It seems as though Kjellman overlooked very few details in the design of this unusual machine. A sunshade and windshield wipers improve visibility in any weather, ventilation slats and windows offer a cool breeze in the summer, and a small electric heater defrosts the windows when it is parked outside in the winter. The PodRide also has headlights and turn signals.
“I put a lot of effort into making it practical, but it has also been really fun to drive,” Kjellman explained.
At the moment, Kjellman is currently trying to raise the $30,000 needed to make the PodRide a reality. He acknowledges that his first model is just a prototype, but after a year’s commuting in the little bicycle-car, he’s confident it will work out for others as well as it has worked out for him.
While the e-bike disguised as a car may seem a little silly for riders in more temperate climates, winter is a very real and persistent barrier for many potential bike commuters in the colder parts of the world. A bicycle which is able to keep the elements at bay might just be the solution many are looking for. Either way, we admire Kjellman’s creativity and ingenuity, and wish him all the best in his endeavor.
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