Andy Saunders has made some very interesting cars over the years. Not only does he make driveable art cars of all kinds (including a three-wheeled boat), but he’s also a three-time and current record holder for the shortest cars ever built. His most recent project is not only truly strange, but thoroughly British. It’s not just a bicycle, but one that you can prepare and drink tea inside of.
The machine was built using parts from a pedal-powered golf cart and an old camper van. The frame of the golf cart was stretched and modified to make room for the camper van’s shell, and then the camper shell was narrowed and shortened to make it fit on the bike-cart. It was all done to look professional and as if it had come from a factory somewhere.
It has all of the things a camper van should have, including a source of power (pedals), a water heater, a sink, some small cabinets, a small table, and even some repositionable cushions to turn the bottom part into a bed. Everyone but our visually-impaired readers will spot an obvious problem with this camper, though. It’s simply too small for anybody to actually sleep inside of unless they enjoy sleeping in the fetal position.
Fortunately, nobody is actually going to sleep in this vehicle, as it was built to be a marketing gimmick for an RV dealer in Poole. Our readers who happen to be chiropractors may be disappointed that it won’t be mass produced, but the rest of us whose backs and necks were aching just looking at the thing can breath a small sigh of relief.
While this wasn’t built to be a serious RV, I do think it shows us that there are some real possibilities for the concept, as long as there are some improvements made to it. Before we get to that, though, it’s worth noting that the idea of a pedal-powered camper probably isn’t original. Kevin Cyr, another artist, built something similar in 2008 on three wheels. His take on the pedal camper seemed a lot more practical, but would probably still be somewhat cramped. If you scroll down further in the last link, you’ll see other things, like a small towable bike trailer that actually has room for comfortable sleeping.
Making A Real Pedal RV
If we want to take this idea beyond an art project, I think we need to both increase the interior room and make it easier to pedal, especially on inclines. To do that, I’d start with something like the RadBurro:
750 watts isn’t an amazing amount of power, but it’s enough to get up to normal bike speeds and not struggle to pedal hundreds of pounds up a steep hill. There’s also room on top of any reasonably sized camper box to allow for some solar charging, which would make long cross-country trips a lot easier.
As far as a box goes, it’s going to need to be expandable unless you want to pull something truly giant along. Something with a slide-out bed or expanding walls of some kind, like a pop-up camper, would make for a much more reasonable load that would also give a person room to sleep. I’d probably go with a design like this Quicksilver 6.0 camper that folds out enough room to sleep 3, but still only weighs about 700 pounds. But if this wasn’t being towed with a car and subjected to all of that stress, it could possibly be built much lighter.
While there isn’t room for a friend to ride along, the extra room inside would allow for friends to come along on their own e-bikes without having to pull their own trailers along.
Someone seriously needs to build this.