PodRide a savvy solution for pedal power in winterThe PodRide shields its occupant from inclement weather with a windshield and canvas enclosure. Photo: Mikael Kjellman via Indiegogo

PodRide a savvy solution for pedal power in winter

Matt McFarland

A Swedish man has built a recumbent bicycle with an outer shell that resembles a car, creating a pleasant riding experience during his country’s bitter winters.

While the popularity of bicycle commuting has grown globally due to factors such as climate change and urban gridlock, cycling in bad weather has remained unpleasant. Many bike commuters pick other modes of transportation during winter and on rainy days.

But mechanical engineer Mikael Kjellman was determined to bicycle year-round to his job in Ostersund, about 560 kilometres north of Stockholm, where winter temperatures rarely get above freezing.

So Kjellman built the PodRide, which shields him from inclement weather with a windshield and canvas enclosure. There’s a heater built into the electric bicycle, which is programmed to automatically warm his bicycle one hour before he leaves the office each evening. The PodRide has a cute appearance, with large wheels.

It’s less than one metre across and seats one person. A small trailer can be attached to the PodRide. The bicycle’s electric assist motor will reach speeds of 24km/h, a limit Kjellman set to follow local laws. (A cyclist could pedal faster if desired.) The motor can add power and make pedalling easier.

The 42-year-old has made the 11-kilometre commute in the PodRide for a year. The only times he can’t use it are when more than 10 centimetres of snow are on the ground.

Kjellman rides the PodRide in bike lanes and on local streets with limited traffic. He owns a car but generally uses it only on weekend trips to his cabin in the mountains.

Kjellman drew so many smiles and positive feedback as he rode the PodRide that he launched an online campaign to raise money to sell kits so anyone could build their own PodRide, he said.

In two weeks on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, he’s well past his goal of $39,000 ($USD30,000), raising $50,000 so far. An accompanying YouTube video has been watched almost 3 million times.

He said he’s heard from bicycle companies interested in developing his PodRide to a finished product so consumers wouldn’t have to assemble the bicycles themselves.

So far he hasn’t found a realistic partnership, he said, but his bosses are open to his taking time off work to focus full-time on the project.

Kjellman doesn’t know yet how much the assembly kit will cost. Those donating to his campaign are essentially putting down a down payment on their kit.

Washington Post

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