Published on February 12th, 2018 | by Jesper Berggreen0
A Bike Or A Car? Meet Podbike!
February 12th, 2018 by Jesper Berggreen
This very peculiar vehicle reminds me of the Twike I read about years back. It has the same principle of generating electricity by pedaling, but in this case it’s a 4-wheeler. Norwegian magazine Teknisk Ukeblad published an article last week on the new Podbike.
Chief engineer and founder of Podbike Per Hassel Sørensen assures us that this is a bike, even if it looks like a car. He says it’s a 4-wheel electric bike with features not found in any other bike.
Hassel Sørensen has built his own bikes from the age of 10, and at 17 he built a speed bike and tried to set a Norwegian record on the highway. A few years ago he was seriously injured when a car hit him. While recovering he tried out the so-called velomobile, a recumbent bike with 3 wheels and a fully enclosed cabin.
He kept riding the velomobile and eventually it was significantly modified and converted into electrical operation. But later, instead of electrifying existing models, he designed an electric quad bike from scratch.
Most electric bicycles have 1 motor. Podbike has 3, but one is used only as a generator. Each rear wheel has a built-in motor and the front wheels used for steering are connected to a generator. Thus, the bike has no mechanical transmission for propulsion.
A standard Podbike at a price of $6,300 has 4 battery modules that are connected for a total capacity of 400 Wh.
The bike is tested to consume an average of 5 Wh/km (8 Wh/mile). So the standard version will get you a range of 80 km (50 miles). The chassis should accommodate up to 18 battery modules, giving an electrical range of at least 300 km (186 miles).
As a thumb of rule — in my own experience — ordinary e-bikes consume about 10 — 20 Wh/km (very prone to weather), so if this is for real, then it is all due to very efficient aerodynamics combined with efficient regenerative braking. I for one would like to see documentation for this claim.
The generator at the front wheels is capable of producing 1500 watts, and a neat feature is that it will automatically apply regenerative braking when speed exceeds 60 km/h (37 mph).
One surprising thing that I have experienced — on the tens of thousands of miles on e-bikes over the years — is that e-bikes have built-in climate control. Let me explain:
In warm weather you obviously let the motor assist you enough to not break sweat. In cold weather you pedal without assistance the first couple of minutes to get warm and then turn up motor assistance just enough to prevent you from breaking sweat. This works better than you would think. It keeps me warm and free from sweat in temperatures ranging from -10 — 25 °C on a normal e-bike where you sit out doors. So, I am confident that this principle will apply perfectly for the Podbike.
Since the pedals are just attached to the generator, it should be very easy to adjust the conversion rate and thus the amount of muscle power you put into the system.
The final version will have easy-entry with the clear roof going all the way back and the rear wheels actively elevating the rear of the vehicle. A very cool animation can be found at Podbike.com.
In addition, the bicycle is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes on the front wheels and mechanical brakes on the rear wheels. They are mechanical in order to also act as parking brakes.
Even though the bike is quite narrow, the bike’s 64 kg chassis has a low center of gravity. In addition, the full independent suspension on all wheels with adjustable dampers and built-in springs ensures that it will not roll over. And even though it is a small vehicle, it is still safer than an ordinary bike.
Since launching the concept online, 600 orders have been placed from people around the world. Currently, Podbike is produced in Norway.
Per Hassel Sørensen has this to add on the function and design of the Podbike:
“We are not aiming for today’s cyclists with Podbike. We aim at the cyclists of the future and people who drive a car, but at the same time would like to bring the comfort of a car to the simplicity of a bike. It looks great and will be very fun to use. You will choose your Podbike over your Tesla when it suits the purpose.”