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 Mikael Kjellman, a mechanical engineer, was determined to bicycle year-round to his job in Ostersund, where winter temperatures rarely get above freezing. He said he wanted an environmentally friendly way of getting around.
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 fairly narrow — less than three feet — and seats one person. A small trailer can be attached to the PodRide to carry things. The bicycle’s electric assist motor will reach speeds of 15 mph, a limit Kjellman set to follow local laws. (A cyclist could pedal faster if desired.) The motor can add power and make pedaling easier.
The 42-year-old has made the seven-mile commute to work in the PodRide for a year. The only times he can’t use it are when there’s more than four inches of snow on the ground.
Kjellman rides the PodRide in bike lanes and on local streets with limited traffic. He also owns a car, but generally only uses it on weekend trips to his cabin in the mountains.
Kjellman said he drew so many smiles and positive feedback as he rode the PodRide that he decided to launch an online campaign to raise money to sell kits so that anyone could build their own PodRide.
Kjellman said he’s been shocked with the success he’s had on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. In two weeks, he’s nearly reached his goal of $30,000. 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 that consumers wouldn’t have to assemble the bicycles themselves.
So far he hasn’t found a partnership that makes sense. But he said his bosses are open to him taking time off work so he can 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.