The other day, iOS’s photo widget surfaced a photo to me:

Before you is a Velomtek VT1, although my brain usually just calls it a "banana-mobile" on the off-chance I see one. A few months ago, while riding east of Toronto along Lake Ontario, I passed two people talking with each other, a bright yellow vehicle of sorts between them. I doubled back to inquire. I couldn’t resist.

One was the owner and, if I remember correctly, the other was trying out the device—if not to purchase it from the owner, then just to see if it was to their liking. Sadly, we didn’t get to see anyone go but they did let me take the photo that was mentioned above.

Speaking of going, the Velomtek earnestly reminds me of Go dog, go.

Not entirely dissimilar to the Velomtek.
Not entirely dissimilar to the Velomtek.

I’d like to make it clear that my choice of references (bananamobile, and go dog, go) mean no disrespect. I was charmed by encountering the velomtek, and while it is novel enough to draw comparisons of all kinds; mine just happen to make me smile.

Anyway, I did a little research on these devices. Let me fill you in:

  • Designed and manufactured in Quebec, Canada.
  • Features:
    • Outstanding mechanical efficiency
    • Comfortable and spacious interior
    • carbon fiber bodywork (optional)
    • Back loading area, customizable settings, option for wider tires
    • Option for electrical assistance
  • Safety Highlights:
    • Puncture-resistant tires
    • Durable drum brakes
    • 360-degree LED lighting system
    • Adjustable mirrors and a powerful horn
    • Capacity and Dimensions:
    • Payload: 120 kg
    • Rider Size: 162 cm – 190 cm
    • Cargo Volume: 100 L
    • Turning Radius: 5.0 m
    • Width: 75 cm, Length: 243 cm, Total Height: 107 cm
  • Components: Schwalbe Marathon tires, Sturmey Archer front brakes, Origin8 crankset, Shimano Deore rear wheel, Elastomer rear suspension, Rohloff speedhub transmission steering, carbon fiber seat, LED lighting, lithium-ion batteries.
  • Pricing (CAD): VT1-14s: $9,400 / VT1-e-14s: $12,950

(Not all these components/features mean much to me, although I did recently learn about Rohloff hubs (apparently they are amazing) and I can see how the prices for this could climb as a result. )

A couple of months later, I saw a very similar vehicle piloted along the waterfront trail in Toronto. Was it the person in the photo? I couldn’t say. But needless to say, everyone saw this yellow beacon rolling on through the streets. And while it’s rather low to the ground, visibility doesn’t seem to be a problem.

I’m thrilled to see bike-like things out there in the world. Velomobiles have been around for several decades but I’ve hardly seen them out in the wild. As e-bikes become increasingly popular (and subsequently their components become more affordable), I wonder if Velomobiles and the like might make more appearances. Keep your eyes peeled for them (whoops, there I go again).

I wonder how well these could handle in the winter, but I imagine having a break from the wind blasting in my face would be nice. There are even optional windshields.

Take a look at the end of this walkthrough video from the creators — it is quite remarkable even to see a video of someone piloting this—especially when you know someone is pedalling but you can’t quite see it. I’d love to ride around in one for a week to see what it’s like.