The affordable velomobile.
Zero impact, low cost, highly efficient human transportation with free health benefits.
What the heck is that?
It’s a velomobile, a human-powered vehicle. Essentially a high-tech recumbent bicycle with an outer body shell (or fairing) added. This design gives greatly increased …
… compared to upright bicycles.
Lightning Cycle Dynamics has built hundreds of custom velomobiles over the last 30 years, the most famous being the Lightning F-40. They have set many world distance records, the most famous record is 3,000 miles across the USA in 5 days, 1 hour.
However, the high technology and one at a time construction of these machines resulted in a high price. Never resting, Lightning Cycle Dynamics has taken this idea and refined it for mass production and greater utility. The result is the Lightning F-22, which has an easier-to-build design that is a fraction of the price of the F-40 or any other Velomobile.
The above picture shows the complete F-22 Velomobile with a body shell. The shell is made from a heavy-duty stretch Spandex material. It provides some weather protection but is not waterproof. A zipper is on the side for entry and exit. There is an aluminum framework and fiberglass nose underneath supporting the Spandex.
This shell is smaller than the F-40 shell and leaves the rider’s feet outside. This was done for some very practical reasons.
- The smaller shell reduces side wind loads, making the F-22 very stable in winds. It handles almost the same as an upright touring bike with panniers in crosswinds.
- Having the feet outside all the time makes starting and stopping a snap, no different than an unfaired recumbent bicycle.
The shell cuts wind resistance to half that of upright bikes, resulting in speeds for the average rider:
- Faster on level ground than an e-bike, up to 30 mph cruising speed.
- Climbs as fast or faster than a road bike on grades up to 5%
- Faster than anything downhill, up to 60 mph.
Obviously, aerodynamics are important on flat and down-hill sections, but aerodynamics can play an important role on moderate hills and rollers. Check out Gerry Pease’s analysis of the balance between aerodynamics and weight.
This picture above shows the F-22 chassis, which is a Lightning Phantom recumbent with accessories added.
The wide Marathon tires enable travel on many surfaces, including hard-packed dirt and gravel. They also grip well in wet conditions.
The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes can stop you on a dime in any weather condition. The low seat and center of gravity allow full stopping power with no fear of tipping the bike or going over the handlebars.
It is equipped with a wide-range Shimano 27-speed drivetrain with a low gear of 21 inches, allowing you to climb almost any grade, and a high gear of 112 inches to help take advantage of the fairing speed advantage.
The ergonomically-shaped full back seat has a foam padded bottom, and mesh cover for ventilation to keep you cool on hot days. The seat framework is rust-free, lightweight, welded, and heat-treated aluminum. Studies have shown a comfort level many times than a standard upright bike seat.
The frame and fork are high-strength Chromoly steel for light weight, long life, and ride comfort over bumps. The frame and stem have bosses to mount a water bottle, and also fenders.
The F-22 can be equipped with:
- Nylon seat bag with inner pockets to carry your essential gear
- Hydration bladder in the seat bag keeps you hydrated on any ride
- A mirror for safe riding
- Aluminum kickstand which makes parking much easier
The weight of the bicycle as pictured with all accessories is only 31 pounds.
The above picture shows the inside of the body shell. The inner aluminum framework and fiberglass nose portion can be seen. Also, the right side foot hole can be seen. To enter you simply put your right foot in the hole, sit down, and zip up the zippers.
The top zipper is also shown, this is used for entry, and for cooling on warm days.
Again with zippers open, showing the mesh seat.
But wait, there is more!
Health. Riding a recumbent bike outside is the best cardio exercise possible. The comfort and zero impact exercise allow you to exercise as long as you want, and studies show being outside produced much better health benefits than indoor exercise. Having a healthy cardiovascular system and body fat percentage can increase your lifespan from 10 to 20 years.
Environment. These velomobiles are made from recycled and recyclable materials and use no man-made energy. Batteries have an environmental cost, with strip-mining needed to extract the raw materials, and fossil fuels used to manufacture, transport, and charge them at night. Even if charged at day by solar panels, those panels had the same mining and fossil fuels used to manufacture and transport them as the batteries. Then there is the toxic waste issue when the battery can no longer be charged. The Lightning F-22 velomobile has none of these issues.
The Lightning F-22
- Zero impact on the environment
- Zero impact on your body for comfortable exercise
- Light touring
- Fitness rides
- Enjoying nature