Hacker News Re-Imagined

Twike

4 days ago

Created a post 275 points @legerdemain • 1 comments

Twike

@hkt 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I hope this link is from a clever would-be startup founder so they can show our positive responses as they pitch basically the same idea to YC.

More seriously, pedal power is great, better for the environment and better for its users. I expect obesity rates would drop dramatically if we had better cycle infrastructure (I'm in the UK, statement works in most places) and especially if we had family friendly power assisted cycles.

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@tomthe 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I had friends who had 2 Twikes. They were really great, my friends used them every day to commute for more than 10 years. But they have two disadvantages:

* Savety if you share the road with 2000kg blobs of steel. * Price. Cheap once you have them, but they are not mass-manufactured and come with a heafty price for what they offer.

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@sunshineforever 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I actually seriously dream of starting some sort of company to build vehicles like this!

Other than the car designs themselves, my idea is to decentralize the ownership and selling to circumvent the laws about auto manufacturing. Like, "the sharing economy" but we're sharing being auto manufacturers in an independent, collective way. Each member will be able to sell so many "custom cars" as a private individual.

I want to see the USA with tiny little cars and empower people to be able to theoretically build/maintain their own, like a bicycle.

I'm extremely passionate about small vehicles and I think that they will be more popular in the future, when we are facing the more severe effects of climate change and fuel shortage.

I haven't even read the thread yet, and I've never brought this sort of thing up here before, but I'm slowly acquiring the knowledge and skills to make building one at least a personal reality some day.

Now, on to the thread!

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@bipson 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I think after all this falls under the super-category Velomobile [1] - there are plenty of other examples for two-seater, electric assisted Velomobiles.

Also, Velomobiles are way more popular. My unkle (used to?) drives one every day to work, in every weather, 40+ km one way (without electric assist, at least a few years ago). And no, he was never cold, he rather had problems with ventilation ;)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velomobile

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@petruil_p 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Having such cars in the city would solve the traffic problem. But why are not selected from the car industry holders? Does the customer not prefer them? Is the marketing that is missing? A good example of transition in the car industry is the massive use of the electric cars which I think that it began with Tesla cars. Tesla cars did the break through for the electric cars from my point of view. There is a need for another break through for using such cars.. or an evolutionary part of the community to start using and search such solutions

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@cylinder714 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I love the idea of velomobiles, but living in the American West, air conditioning is a necessity.

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@dorfsmay 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

A very modern version but for one adult:

https://www.podbike.com/

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@dijit 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Reminds me of a Sinclar C5[0] (my grandfather worked for the company I believe, there are photos with him, my mum and a bunch of these C5's)

It was mired in troubles; low visibility, low range (lead-acid batteries being... low density compared to li-ion), quite easy to break and being easy to steal.

Still, I think the form factor is a wonderful idea and it's nice to see some alternative methods being explored for electric vehicles again..

I sometimes see little electric "Fatboys"[1] in operation around Malmo (a famously cycle friendly city); though sadly I think they're mainly used by drug dealers.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_C5

[1]: https://www.urbanscooters.com/products/mototec-fatboy-500w-e...

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@pg_bot 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Reminds me of the reliant robin.[0]

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQh56geU0X8

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@rswail 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Isn't the reliant robin the ICE equivalent that was/is completely unstable around corners?

It makes a good space shuttle replacement though.

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@frereubu 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I love this in principle, but the one thing I always wonder about recumbent bicycles is how visible they are to lorries / trucks. I've seen some with a tall aerial-like stem and a flag on top of it, but knowing how bicycles can be pretty invisible to cars even when wearing a reflective top at their eye height, I think I'd always be anxious about being crushed from behind. I suppose that says a lot about cycling infrastructure in the UK in terms of being forced to ride on the same road as massive lorries.

Edit: Actually, looking at the official site - https://twike.com/en/home/ - it's bigger than it seemed to me at first, so perhaps not as bad as recumbent bikes.

Edit 2: Blimey, they're expensive - "The new vehicle price for a TWIKE 5 shall be between 39.900 € and 49.900 € (sales price in Germany, incl. 19% VAT, depending on the battery equipment)."

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@RalfWausE 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Yup, they are built roughly 5 km from where i live, and you can see one or two on a daily basis. They have this '80s eco design' charme and after a testdrive a few years ago i can say: If i had the money, i would buy one anytime.

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@Hackbraten 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I want one of those!

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@jsjsbdkj 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I love biking in the summmer, and I've avoided a moped or motorcycle because it would basically overlap with my bike in terms of usefulness around the city. I haven't done a ton of resarch but I haven't seen a good complementary vehicle for running errands / getting around when it's rainy/snowy and I wouldn't want to bike. A recumbent bike like this would be very hard to see in the rain, and it doesn't seem capable of dealing with canadian winter weather.

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@paraiuspau 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I used to see these occasionally on the road in Switzerland and often would drive behind them, as they were naturally a lot slower on the open road than most cars.

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@Faaak 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I had something similar, although simpler: it's called a velomobile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velomobile). It's a bike but with some added aerodynamics. You can easily ride at 40km/hour (~24mi) only with your muscles.

It was very nice to drive: very stable and rather fast and i did 2x20km/day to work. However its bigger weight compared to a simple bicycle makes it not suitable to mountains

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@FriedrichN 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

The problem with these kind of vehicles is that they exist somewhere between cars and bicycles, which means they won't be welcome on either bike paths or car roads. Hell, people even complain about people on race bicycles on bicycle paths. But then again, people wouldn't be people if they didn't complain (about traffic).

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@Tepix 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

I'm a sucker for these bicycles (or quadcycles) with roofs. There have been countless attempts to bring them to market but it seems they mostly end up being too expensive or not making it to production.

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@jamilabreu 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Love discovering random Wikipedia articles! Just this week I started a newsletter about the random articles I come across:

https://randomwalk.substack.com/

Going to use this one :)

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@thcleaner999 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙



@jay_kyburz 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

These are awesome, but they are too small (and too slow) for the road and too big for the bike path or sidewalk.

I ride a scooter to work everyday. (Inokim Ox). Its legal on the sidewalk where I live. I really think scooters are the future.

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@ofrzeta 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

The price of the Twikes is absolutely ridiculous. You have to be an idiot or an absolute enthusiast to buy one because with every other vehicle you get a lot more for the money.

I wonder how they got to that price. Obviously no economy of scale here but still, I can't create a business on the grounds that I will only sell like two vehicles per year, so I need to make them ridiculously expensive to make my company sustain.

Even if I totally manufacture that machine it will never be so costly.

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@ourcat 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Are these like those things I've seen tourists riding around in San Francisco?

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@thom 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

This thread is of course tragically incomplete without tagging the Sinclair C5:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_C5

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@mgreb 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

It seems to me, that this thing combines disadvantages both from car and a bicycle. Also: only one wheel on the front? Imagine what will happen if you decide to apply brakes while cornering at a reasonable speed.

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@quicon 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

There is a similar four wheeled HEHV being produced in Norway: https://www.podbike.com

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@fnord77 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

has the same problem as bicycles - if a pickup truck collides with you, you're going to be a grease stain on the road.

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@soheil 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

> Pedaling warms the user, making electric heating in winter unnecessary.

I don't know who edited this in the wiki, but this type of talking down to people is probably one of the top reasons the culture of biking in the US even in places like San Francisco never resonated with people. There are just too many condescending bike enthusiasts who think biking is the next best thing invented after sliced bread and everyone else is an idiot for not seeing the light.

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@el_nahual 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Another example of how, if you had to design a vehicle for passenger city/suburban use, you would never ever ever come up with an ICE sedan, or to be honest even an electrical vehicle of "normal" proportions.

Pretty sure the car is the most harmful invention of the 20th century. The damage it has done to the environment, our health, and social fabric is hard to grok.

A couple edits for clarification:

- I'm talking about using cars to transport individuals to work, school, lunch, errands, etc

- Cars are very harmful to health. Most obviously, they kill a lot of people. There's over one million road deaths worldwide per year[0]. (Covid killed 4M). Less obviously, they are terrible for health. Living next to busy roadways is linked to increased dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. This has nothing to do with CO2--it's the rubber and metal and not addressed by Teslas or whatever.

- Cars make people dumber. Students who move to schools downwind of busy roads have lower test scores [1].

- Less obvious is the damage to social fabric. It's not just a distance thing: it's an estrangement thing. People in cars skip the places they move through as opposed to inhabiting them. Think about some busy thoroughfare at night near your home. Does it feel safe?

- Think about Houston. Think about Mumbai. Think about Lagos.

- Getting rid of cars does not mean everyone has to use public transport. In fact that was my point. You can design a vehicle that takes you quickly from a -> b that doesn't weigh 2 tons and uses 18m^2 at rest.

- Getting rid of cars does not mean getting rid of ambulances ffs.

But my main issue isn't how bad this all is: it's how unnecessary it is. As a species we are more than capable (as evidenced by the OP!) of building a variety of modes of transport that are better in most every way (utility, externalities, price) to cars.

[0]: https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/global-road-safety/index...

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-04/pollution...

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@Lukas_Skywalker 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

The german Wikipedia page has pictures of some more recent versions: https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twike

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@cstuder 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Driving them feels like sitting in a space ship.

Source: I've driven one for a couple of minutes once a couple of years ago. In Switzerland they are kept alive and running by a number of enthusiasts.

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@xunn0026 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Interesting but extraordinarily expensive. I assume current battery tech, etc. should provide a much lower price.

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@tromp 4 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

The Dutch manufacturer velomobiel.nl has developed a two person version of its popular Quest velomobile:

https://www.velomobiel.nl/duoquest/

Smaller English version: https://en.velomobiel.nl/duoquest/

Its lack of electric support makes it rather cheaper than the trike.

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@chrismorgan 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

This sort of electrical/pedalling hybrid is an interesting space, but one where legislation is often a real downer.

I’m currently planning to build a velomobile that I can live out of while cycling round Australia for a year. A trailer too, designed around a digital piano and some sort of fridge (either a production model or one constructed manually from a compressor).

It’ll end up heavy enough¹ that I’ll want to put a motor in it, so that for local journeys I can get from Point A to Point B more quickly and more confidently dispose of my car, and because otherwise when touring there will be some hills that I simply can’t climb, and that 200–250W² should make it possible (though probably still not easy).

So then I figured, how about a fully electrical drivetrain? Even with the best components, it’ll still be a bit less efficient than a well-maintained chain³, but getting the chain and front chainrings out of the way would be great, making the decision of how to facilitate sleep much easier: go quadricycle (rather than tadpole trike, which is two wheels at the front and one at the back), then to sleep tilt the seat back flat, and shift the pedals/generator a bit out of the way, and there’s no chain to worry about so you’re ready to sleep in the vehicle.⁴

Unfortunately, the legislation is drafted in such a way as to forbid such vehicles. Excerpt from Victoria’s Road Safety Road Rules 2017 <https://content.legislation.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2...>:

> bicycle means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be propelled partly or wholly by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor)

The way they keep talking about power assistance as the use of an auxiliary motor is troublesome, and this potentially doesn’t even allow things like hydraulic, shaft or electrical drives. But then, what is an electrical wire but a belt for electrons?

¹ Though nowhere near the the two-seater Twike’s unladen-save-batteries 246kg. I’m aiming for a this-is-my-home practical loaded long-term touring weight of 125kg, including things like 50kg of vehicle and trailer (including all vehicle electronics), 12kg of piano, 12kg of fridge, 12kg of battery and 5kg of solar panels.

² Broadly speaking, Australia currently has two classifications: 200W with no speed limit, and the pedelec 250W but limited to 25km/h. Finer details vary by state. Not sure if you could legally get away with producing 250W if pedalling and under 25km/h, or 200W if over 25km/h (and pedalling, in some states); “an auxiliary motor capable of generating a power output over 200 watts” hangs quite a bit on the interpretation of the word “capable”.

³ An electrical drivetrain could easily be better than a poorly-maintained chain.

⁴ The main alternatives I’m considering include making the vehicle expandable in a way vaguely reminiscent of a pop-top van, and a larger and/or expandable trailer and sleep in that. But I don’t want to be messing around with tents every day.

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@samcheng 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

These things are still a bit far outside the mainstream, but if anyone hasn't tried an ebike yet, I highly encourage it!

It really is magic mobility, with the free feeling of being on a bike, without the sweat or the necessary fitness to travel at 20 or even 25 mph.

I don't think Twikes (or other recumbent bikes / velomobiles) will gain popularity in the near term, but I'm very confident that ebikes will continue to grow.

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@gillesjacobs 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

My father has had his Twike for seven years now. I wouldn't recommend it, the suspension is not up to snuff, even just for daily commute. Getting repairs done is a major difficulty as there are very little parts or mechanics readily available. He also had to sue the Twike company when they tried to defraud us w.r.t. warranty and insure documents. The legal issues have been on-going and they stalled the repair of the Twike for about a year.

My father now commutes by electric bicycle.

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@chappi42 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

Nice bike/attempt but not many of them in circulation (too expensive, too exposed). Fwiw, pedaling does not provide a large fraction of the needed energy and I don't think the mechanical complication was worth it. Twike is the past imo.

Maybe Microlino, a wonderful, stylish, energy efficient vehicle, will be the future (certainly smarter than the crap suv tanks one sees driving around here (in the inner city)).

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@albertgoeswoof 3 days

Replying to @legerdemain 🎙

> Pedaling warms the user, making electric heating in winter unnecessary

Well that's one way to spin a missing feature ;)

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