Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jan 29

150MPG Human Powered Goblin Aero

Posted in Human Power | Pedal Power | Transportation

Goblin Aero Goblin Motors’ new line of human powered vehicles are coming online February 2009. These vehicles, known as velomobiles, allow a single occupant to travel faster than a bicycle using their own power. Power assist systems are available as an option.

Human Powered Cars

Based upon high tech aerodynamics engineering and standard cycling technology, Goblin Motors introduces products that offer a reasonable way to commute using human power alone. Drivers have protection from the elements, whether it is hot or cold, sunny or raining. Popular in Europe for years, this is the first time that such vehicles have been designed and manufactured to accommodate larger American citizens.

Visit the Goblin Aero page for project details and photos. Look forward to the release of Goblin Motors’ new hybrid drive power assist on Earth Day, 2009.

  • Kevin

    The goblin is a great idea and cool technology but would fill niche markets at best. Personally I would use it if the roads supported the commute. What about the soccer Mom’s drinking coffee, talking on their cell phone and beating the fighting kids with the TV in in their massive urban assault vehicles running you over like a bug. I have been a road biker, it is dangerous. Close calls are the norm not the exception.

  • alex colin

    Where would you park it? It’s kind of an important consideration. Otherwise I like it. I ride a mountain bike to work now.

  • Jeff Bales

    Thank you for the good comments.

    A recumbent style of cycle like the GoblinAero typically affords the rider more safety than a rider of a standard bike due to it appearing unusual to drivers of cars. When I commute with the GoblinAero’s motorized trike chassis, I am typically given about 5 feet of clearance by car drivers as they stare at me.

    It is easy to park anywhere you would park a standard bicycle, at bike racks, etc. It is easy to pass a heavy duty cable through the chassis and a security post. It is also easy to take the GoblinAero through a doorway. It fits through all standard door sizes.

    Best regards,

    Jeff Bales

  • Richard Gregorcyk

    This is a GREAT idea, however, as things stand right now the US has a ban somewhat on vehicles that cannot maintain a minimum speed on the freeways, therefore that eliminates commuting. Parking too is a consideration once you get into the city. My neighbor used to own a PPV built back in the 70’s and the neighbor kid and I would drive that thing EVERYWHERE!

  • prastowo

    Wow it’s so wonderful…

    In My country (Indonesia), I ever look a university had made competition for this manpower car (it’s called boxsoap), but I think participants of this competition didn’t have a research about aerodynamic side of their boxsoaps

  • Cathy

    Kevin, Don’t blame all the insanity on the road on soccer moms. Now it’s common for folks to get and make calls from the office while they are on the road; that’s called ‘multi-tasking’. I agree that the roads in the US are unsafe for this kind of vehicle.

  • horsethief

    I would buy one. I think they are neat and god knows most of could use the exercise. Please keep us informed about release date and price!

  • Carlos Cantu

    I wish all the “velomobiles” would have additional protection in case of a minor collision. For example: aircushions, foams, safety belts, flex frame, etc.

  • Andy R

    Any meaningful amount of protection would be so heavy as to preclude human propulsion.

    Consider this: if there were only velomobiles on the roads, hardly any protection would be needed. Why is more protection desired? Because the roads carry poorly-controlled vehicles of high kinetic energy. Why high kinetic energy? High weight. Why high weight? Crashworthiness. It’s like an arms race, leading to highly protected drivers who subconsciously allow themselves to be inattentive because of the low personal risk of injury.

    It may sound peverse, but until we *reduce* the crashworthiness of motor vehicles, we won’t improve the safety of velomobilists (or cyclists or pedestrians).

  • Steven Allen

    Personally I don’t think I’d enjoy riding a recumbent with all that weather shielding.

    Two of the things I like about riding my bike to work every day are:

    – The wind rushing past me keeps me cooler than i would be if I was doing any other type of exercise;
    – I can see above the traffic around me – allowing me to see further and see any approaching vehicles or obstacles sooner.

    With regards to the weather – I take a change of clothes to work so it doesn’t matter if I get wet in the rain. And with regards to the comments about fast-moving traffic being dangerous – I take the back streets, often moving faster than the motorised traffic.

  • Richard Gregorcyk

    We are back to the same old problem that is faced with ALL new products. 1.) there will be an equal amount of nay-sayers and yea-sayers giving a perceived indifference to the situation. 2.)there are equally valid concerns on both sides of the fence to warrant non-production 3.) However,this is one of those products that without direct government promotion in the form of positive media direct hands-on involvement or direct subsidies to further production and sales or even creating specific lanes/times /availability of major thoroughfares will it do anything more than satisfy PERSONAL wants and needs and niche markets.
    4.) without making it equally cost-available to the general public and without governmental changes in the form of roads accessability and desire to reduce emmissions and fossil fuel consumption.

    I am NO expert but I have been around long enough to see similar products like the old PPV come and go without really growing beyond the tourist/rental market. Even then the cost was prohibitive for extended use beyond that. I also fall into that group which would love a viable alternative to what we have. The other factor that needs to be looked at is convenience , as a whole the American populace due to laziness, work ethic and focus on the almighty dollar needs a fast convenient way to get to work that does not ADD time to their day, conversely it needs something that provide sthem with more time with the least amount of hassle, ie: having to change clothes because they got wet /sweaty/dirty.
    I love the product and if I have enough of the almighty dollar when I get done with this deployment I will likely look into purchasing one…but then, I live in the country and have wide open roads….

  • David

    That looks great. I have been thinking about building a similar unit here in Canada. What I want is essentially a Flintstone car: foot-powered, but otherwise just like a real car. These are the considerations for me: I need to be able to maintain city-range car speeds, and be able to tote 2 kids and their junk. And I would need to be able to drive it year-round, so it has to handle snow, and -35C weather (Winnipeg).

    Also, I would love to incorporate a solar battery for a radio, or even heat if possible.

    If I could get all that for about 7K, and ditch my gas-guzzling truck, I’d do it in a second.

  • Brian

    What a great idea. I sure will be glad when somebody comes out with these that i can afford! Till then, I will continue to ride my low-end mountain bike and suck up gas in the winter.

    Can somebody tell me why alternative solutions always have to be so incredibly expensive? Is it gov’t regulations? Greed? Lack of business sense? I am truly perplexed!

    Us po’ folken want to be green too!

  • Vernono

    I honestly think that this invention will help save our planet. I wish the government be reformed. We are on a new terrain now, so it’s time to actually get together and make this happen.

  • Psiberzerker

    @ David. Your comments address some of the problems with the market. It’s not a car, it will never be a car, and wanting it to be is not going to accomplish anything but disappointment.

    Highway speed is just not going to happen. I’m sorry, but even with a Faring, will 50+ MPH be possible without more engine than rider. A streamliner could do it under human power, with a pit crew to get ‘er rolling, and closed course, one of the worlds best cyclist topped 80. With an average rider, bags of groceries, and a street legal vehicle, you’re going to top out at around 35.

    2 kids, and their junk means a trailer (Not yet an option, but I’m going down there, and I have designs.) Their weight will drag you down to the 20s, unless they can push effectively too (One of my designs is a crank driven trailer)

    The price, for the Aero, is about as good as it’ll get. $5000.00 (American, not Loonies) for the chain drive is the price point the market needs, but right now we’re looking at a unique prototype. With funding, and mass production facilities, it may come down another $500, but consider the facts that this is a quarter the price of a new economy car, and the price of gas just became somebody else’s problem, for the average consumer, it should pay for itself in a couple years.

    @ Brian, I work minimum wage, and commute by BMX bike. I can afford it, and the trip down to Tucson to pick it up in a couple years. I could do it homeless. The question is, how much do you want it? Save your money, get a savings account, and let the bank pay you interest, instead of the other way around.

    Yeah, it’s a “Green” product, but that’s a trendy esoteric that people will stop worrying about until next hurricane season. (The Gulf of Mexico is Black, following an El Nino year. If you’re on the gulf coast, you got about a year to move to higher ground, or buy a house boat.)

    While the color will market to trust fund eco idiots who will kill us all if they ever get control of the government, look at it in Dollar terms, and it’s still marketable. We’re running out of cheap oil, which is shipped 5-7 times to get it to your gas tank. Even if it’s a fair weather grocery getter, and you drive you station wagon on steroids the rest of the time, we’ll probably see $10/gallon this decade.

    It costs 5 grand, how long would it take in gas savings (Without the engine) to save that much money. Tell you what, every time you go to the pump, tuck the same amount into a saving account, and let me know when you reach 5000? I wager it’ll come sooner than you think, even if current prices stay the same, and the Aero’s price will only come down once it’s in production.

  • robbo

    Why do we only use the legs on these machines
    using 4 limbs would increase the torque and share the load? google robbobike regards m.j.robinson

  • Psiberzerker


    Mostly because of efficiency. We already use our hands for steering, so any hand, and pedal bike would have to have some other means of control (Like a moving bottom bracket, which is tricky to fare). You’d also have to add another mechanism to transfer your cranking, or rowing motion to the wheels, adding weight, and complexity. Finally, the force from two different “Engines” would have to be synchronized so you don’t have traction robbing effects like over spinning one wheel, or uselessly cranking your arms to keep up with your legs. This can be done, but not without adding weight, and complexity. Now, the efficiency robbing of one added system is not much, but four would limit the top speed, and energy needed to get started.

    Then, you have to figure out the ergonomics of fitting this all in an aerodynamic shell, coordination to pull it off in traffic, and marketing to sell it at 10 times the price of a pedal only vehicle because of the multiplied complexity. And last of all, this complexity adds points of failure, making it a fraction as reliable.

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