The car of the future
Actually (and legaly) its a bike. Well, a tricycle. With a fairing. That's it. Thank you for visiting.
The first time i heard about recumbents was when my dad told me that you could go 50 mph with them. I learned later that he exagerated a lot. I'll tell you about speed later.
Then, in the beginning of August 2008, i had a flat tire on my normal (and very old and tired) bike. No prob, I'm gonna buy another bike ! So i checked out bikes on the Internet and then i remembered what my dad had told me. I checked out recumbents ! And i discovered... VELOMOBILES !
I spent pretty much the whole month checking them out on the Internet and on September 4th, i went there :
And i tried this :
The most important thing was that you couldn't see anything through the plexiglas windscreen, and that includes the mirrors ! Apart from that, there wasn't any derailleur in the front, no protection (i lost 3" of lace and dirtied my sweater), and no reverse ! To go backwords, you had to put your arm (as you could) out of the windscreen and grab the tire ! And i wasn't really impressed by the speed either (about 25 mph). All that for 5000€, i went back home !
It was the first time i saw a velomobile though, and i found it... small. On pictures, you kinda figure it's a car size, even if you know it's smaller. One other thing i thought was : woah, you have to have guts to drive that in Paris ! I mean, you won't really be incognito :-)
and i tried this :
This time i really wasn't impressed by the speed of the thing ! It was so slow, heavy and not aerodynamic ! Of course, when you pushed down the accelerator, it was quick ! (There was an electric engine). But this accelerator is out of law in France just like an engine not piloted by the pedaling of the cyclist. And the steering gear got into the doors ! Doors which were a little too soft. I didn't see myself leaving that everywhere in Paris.
So i went back home !
6 month later i had the great honnor to get an e-mail from Carl Georg Rasmussen, the creator of the Leitra, who told me that there was an owner of it in Paris ! So i called him and and tried it ! This time it was great. That was decided, my velomobile would be a Leitra ! Or, more exactly, a Thunderstorm. The only thing is that this car of my dreams costs about 10000€ with the electric engine !
Like an airplane without wings (and without an electric engine)
6 months later again i found my car on HPV, it was a Leitra and i costed 10 times less !
So i drove there :
I put the Leitra into pieces and put it on and in my dad's car (thank you Daddy) :
And i drove back home ! I arrived at 4 in the morning, it was quite hard to take the bike down from the roof of the car. (In Bielefeld the seller helped me lifting it because it's so heavy i couldn't do it by myself ! ) Finally i slipped it letting it roll on the windscreen and hood.
I left it sleep in my garage for 3 days and i fixed it ! I unblocked the weels, settled the back break, inflated the tires a bit and drove away for my first ride ! :
Then i put back the fairing, and i drove my Leitra (convertibled) for 12 miles ! God it was hard. Climbing uphill is such an effort that i sweat like never before. On flat roads you drag yourself (but this should get better with better inflated tires) and you can't really speed downhill with the wheels so close one to another that they make the thing really unsettled. 1h30, middle speed 8 mph. Less than 1 month later i bought an engine ! Second hand, 800 €. I didn't know that it would take me more than 1 year to have it settled on the vehicle.
A couple of days later i went to Picard ! About the only place where i can go because it's not too far and i can keep an eye on the thing from inside the store. Outside there was a (bohemian bourgeois) little girl who opened her eyes like saucers ! And she insisted that her mum let her see me leave ! So the Leitra is very successful with these children, old men, young male teens and... pretty women, well they usually smile at me. Female teens just laugh. And poor children too. Middle age men are usually interested, they ask questions, just like old men.
3 months later i put Frameto on a lot of places covered with rust :
3 months later i inflated the 3 tires up to 70 psi. I felt quite a change, it rolled better.
3 months later there were some big discounts on organic products at my supermarket, that gave me the opportunity to test the great trunk :
All these months i tried to find extension cords, smaller cranks, and of course spokes, because the guy who sold me the engine had 26" wheels, mine are 20". Finally I had the wires extended in an electronics store. (Matra, the importer of Bionx in France sucks so much that not only France is the only country where you can't get li-ion batteries but they won't sell you extensions and they'll sell you spokes like spaghettis, after weeks of search) ! Well that's what Anne-Marie, the nice dutch mechanist of Gepotto told me. She fixed the front breaks and changed the back tire which made the Leitra roll better ! 100 €, she told me it took her the whole morning.
So now i could drive far away ! (But only on flat roads). I did that along the Marne. On July 7th 2010 i broke my record, i did 17 miles. Then on the 10th i did 20 miles, driving to Levallois (more boring than along the Marne). I was so tired that when i got out of the Leitra i fell back down in it ! But i didn't really feel tired like in my muscles. Funny. Then on the 13th i went to my parents, i got lost in Colombes, Bois-Colombes, whatever fucking something Colombes, so i might have made 25 to 28 miles. Broken record again !
The next day i had my nieces drive with me !
Then i broke my record again, i went to Gournay-sur-Marne and did 33 miles. Middle speed : 6 mph as usual. Still, i had the feeling that i had speeded. I noticed a failure of the Leitra : it's wide ! So there are lots of cycling lanes you can't enter because of course these weren't (and still aren't) conceived for velomobiles. I also verified what the owner of the Leitra i had tried told me : scums are very agressive with it. I passed by some and one of them hit the Leitra with his foot.