The Bakmobiel ...
Profound satisfaction for Dries (on the left) watching some of our really happy clients.
Bakers happily whizzing past ...
and back. The Bakmobiel has a passenger seat for gesticulating Italian Bakers... and, meanwhile, stiffer springs.
According to some, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of bakers. Saint Nicholas is our local equivalent of Santa Claus as well, and next to his great fondness for children and his black assistants (called Zwarte Piet or Black Willy, I kid you not), he now has a Fund. The Saint Nicholas Fund finances social projects for the handicapped.
The inspired lady in the passenger seat here above is Veronique, a coordinator at Den Achtkanter and our liaison person with Saint Nicholas. One of the workshops for the mentally challenged Den Achtkanter cares for, is a bakery. Veronique had the splendid idea to let her pupils deliver the bread in style, with a two person human powered vehicle. This would bring her clients closer to each other and to the society: irresistible arguments to the Saint Nicholas Fund, which subsequently shelled out the money for the development and production of the Bakmobiel by fietser.be.
The word Bakmobiel is a pun in Dutch that is, for a change, easy to understand in English. Bak as in bakfiets is widely known, bak as in bakery is self-explanatory.
A hybrid ZEV ...
The Bakmobiel is designed as a hybrid human-electric vehicle. Hybrid vehicles combine two complementary power sources in mutual support, so a small and economic motor - in this case one or two humans - is put to optimal use. In the Bakmobiel, the rider can exercise at the most efficient and comfortable, constant heart rate. This is fantastic for training and substantially extends the range of possibilities of a human powered vehicle.
Peak power demands are smoothed out by an on-board computer controlling an electric motor. Kinetic energy recovered from braking and downhills or exorbitant enthusiasm is recycled by the same motor turned generator. The batteries can of course be connected to the grid or alternative power sources as well.
All this would have been impossible without the top notch BIONX technology. This brushless electric motor generates no drag except when used as a brake or charger. Each rider can easily dial in his preferred level of power assist or regen. With a couple of imaginary friends in the back (i.e. 100% assist) the range is about 50 K, regardless of power regen. At maximum setting of 200% the batteries would last about 30K, but mostly the machine just rolls along well enough without the electric assist so for healthy riders we haven't seen the limits yet. The whole system with two motors and two batteries adds only a mere ten kg to a vehicle weight of around 60 kg. The bakmobiel as a hybrid is a completely different concept than the heavy electric cars!
As far as I know the Bakmobiel is one of the worlds first sociable (side by side) velomobiles as well as the second hybrid human powered utility vehicle. In case you wonder, I think the first one was made by my friend Daniel Coucke of France. Although anyone would definitely forget the word utility after one ride, this is the most fun you'll ever have in a human powered vehicle! Another moniker you could throw at it ZEV or Zero Emission Vehicle. A HHEPZEV, for those indulging in fashionable acronyms.
The powerful NiMH (Nickel MetalHydrid) batteries are easily accessed in the trunk, the motors are integrated in the rear wheels, those are in turn nicely in line with the pedal bracket. With an efficient chain line and a light body composed of double curvature shells, the ride is truly fantastic, like a real velomobile. But with a friend. I reckon* Den Achtkanter got the fun, the style and the street credibility they desired for their people. The wheel base is a good combination of stability and turning radius.
The trunk doubles as a transparent display, the polycarbonate sheet has a separable velcro hinge on top and velcro locks at the bottom. Light and foolproof, if I may use this expression in this context. The front fairing hinges around the pedal brackets so entry and exit is easy for everybody. Front wheels are suspended, seats are a tensioned mesh which adapts to a large diversity of body shapes. For different leg lengths the pedal bracket is sliding in order to keep the center of gravity in the right spot. This Bakmobiel has an extra high seat as well for better vision and visibility.
We designed the moulds so we could connect the left and right part directly, without the middle piece. The result is a shapely heads-in velomobile, with a lot of comfort and space for a child and luggage, which could, of course, be equipped with an electric assist as well. The rider sits behind a single curvature window, and lower so the center of gravity would be much correct for a conventional track width. Ideal for soccer moms, percussionists, Cab bike riders... Ya'Lo is the name of this 'suburban' or velomobreak. The name is an untranslatable pun on WAW, roughly equivalent to a more civilized version of WTF. The hybrid drive for the Ya'Lo would be developed initially by our friends of the French 'Association for the Development of the Velomobile' so we can devote all our energy on the Bries.
The Poster Shot