The Czech company Katanga is attempting to redefine urban mobility with the creation of its VM45 velomobile, a human-powered vehicle that combines elements of a bicycle and an enclosed aerodynamic shell, featuring four wheels and a body made of milled foam, hand epoxies and composite fibers.
The VM45 uses a type of motor and gearbox system that Katanga calls Valeo-Cyclee Mid-drive, which features automatic shifting and reverse drive. The former allows the motorized velomobile to change gears automatically, while the latter enables it to move backward. The VM45’s cruising speed can reach 45 km/h, which is also the maximum limit for the electric-assist function. Thanks to the vehicle’s efficient aerodynamics and low rolling resistance, VM45 consumes minimal energy, and as a result, the motorized velomobile’s range with its battery can exceed 200 kilometers in energy-saving mode.
Katanga claims the VM45’s motor still makes the rider feel as if he or she were cycling and not just riding in a small, motorized car by virtue of the fact the person can still actively pedal alongside the motor. Moreover, the velomobile features two types of suspension in order to suit the rider’s riding style.
For instance, the front suspension is stiffer and has less movement when going over bumps, while the rear suspension is softer and has more travel. This combination can ensure good grip and adherence to the road surface, even on gravel or uneven terrain. The soft rear suspension and the low mass of the rear wheels allow the use of a differential – a device that distributes power to both rear wheels – without causing any loss of traction. This means both rear wheels maintain a good grip on the road surface.
Elsewhere, the VM45 is equipped with three-function headlight, offering three modes that consist of, position light (for visibility), passing beam (for signaling), and driving beam (for illumination), while the rear light serves as a stop light and also has a lamp for the rear registration plate. The motorized velomobile also has direction indicators, a motorcycle horn, and reflective surfaces to enhance visibility in low-light conditions.
The cost of the VM45 velomobile has yet be to announced. However, rough estimates suggest that it will sell for around 11,000 EUR without a motor, and around 13,000 EUR for the motorized version.
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