Ian Sims, Greenspeed CEO
When I was a young man in my 20s, I LOVED cars. I even built my own mid-engined sports car from scratch, had a supercharged MG Magnette, and at one time owned TEN cars! Plus I designed and built 150 mph motor cycle and sidecar outfits for fun! I used to think that as there was MILES of atmosphere above us, the exhaust we put up there did not matter...
However, as time went on, my thinking changed. I did some personal development courses and became more aware of what was going on around me. I began to realize the shear stupidity of using over a TON of metal, glass and plastic to transport one human being! Compared to using a bicycle, which weighs about 1/100 of a car, it seemed to me that we were not just being stupid, we were RAPING our planet! So I cut my cars down to one 1,300 cc two seater, and started building Electrathon vehicles which would go 40 kms on just two car batteries.
Then I lost my job and began looking for even more economical vehicles. I tried my sons' MTBs, but found they were too much like hard work, and I did not feel safe on them. So how could bikes be made more efficient and safer? I saw a couple of recumbent bikes in a book, and this looked to be a more intelligent way of building a bike, so I made one from some scraps. While it was faster than racing bikes, and safer under braking, balancing was still a problem for me, and I did not feel safe on it.
Then a bike shop owner showed me road test of a UK recumbent tricycle. Having built the sidecars, and the "Rocket", I knew I could do better, and built my 1 st recumbent trike. I found that this was a revelation, as I no longer needed to balance the thing, and could just concentrate on pedaling! At last I had no worries about falling off, and felt safe cycling on the road. After doing the 600 km Great Victorian Bike Ride in 1990, I had a lot of people interested in the trike, and started making Greenspeed trikes for sale.
In 1991 I had a ride in fully faired trike that a school had built for Pedal Prix racing. While the machine was quite basic, what amazed me was the fact that when I was pedaling into a strong head wind, the trike went so well that it felt like I had a tailwind behind me! This inspired me to build a streamlined fiberglass fairing and fabric tail for one of our trikes for the 1992 Energy Challenge. Testing this vehicle by rolling it down Wheeler's Hill gave a speed of 69 kph, versus 45 kph for the bare trike. And testing by the Nation Roads and Motorists Association showed it had a drag of only 1 kg force, at 60 kph, versus 6 kg for the bare trike!
While the performance was very good, we believed that we would need a better looking machine for successful sales, so Don Elliott was commissioned to design a suitable fully enclosed fairing for the Greenspeed trikes. While this turned out to be an extremely attractive vehicle, performance was not as good as the Energy Challenge vehicle, and it needed further development. Further development improved the performance enough to win the World Solar Cycle Challenge in 1999. Since then further development at Greenspeed, at Reflex Fairings, and participation in Pedal Prix events, has seen the performance and practicality of the velomobile improve beyond current world standards. Our latest prototype will be exhibited at Interbike, and production will start in 2009. This machine will have BOTH appearance AND performance.