donderdag 5 juli 2012

MUV, Mango Urban Vehicle

I always used to think of a velomobile mainly suitable for long distance touring and commuting. So when I came to live in a big city, I didn't think I would often take the Mango into the town centre. Meanwhile however, my other bikes do nothing but gather dust. All rides are done by the Mango: short and long.  To show how useful a Mango can be in urban area and city centre, I made a new playlist on my YouTube channel to show that especially an agile and light velomobile like the Mango is very much at home there.

My first problem is: how to film myself while cruising through the city. The solution is obvious, one simply asks a friend to come along and be filmed. The result is below and more of such vids are likely to follow in the "MUV" playlist of the HuneliggersChannel

BTW: the footage is made by my new camera: Vio POV.HD Please set the quality to 1080pHD, but when the video looks choppy on your screen it might be better to choose a lower setting.

dinsdag 3 juli 2012

"Hindsight" addition

I realized that the photos in my previous post were not giving a very good image of what you see in the mirrors on the body and in da Hood. So.....

mirror in da Hood: one can just see
the lantern post but not what is directly behind 

mirror on the normal position, the body:
Watch the lantern post in the mirror. I can see
what is going on straight behind the Mango

At first sight the field of view does not seem to different. In both cases I can conveniently look in the mirror without turning my head. The mirror in da Hood is at a slight disadvantage however, because it's impossible to see what goes on straight behind. More importantly: I have to pinch an eye to see clearly. I have noticed that in low light conditions I CAN see with both eyes open. Could it be that it's something that I can train?

CONCLUSION, after riding with mirrors inside for a week: for me this is only for racing. The disadvantages are too great for everyday use. What disturbs me the most is the fact that my glasses sometimes hit the mirrors. That is distracting and annoying.

maandag 2 juli 2012


One of the things that keep coming back in my thoughts is the subject of looking backwards. Even with da Hood on I can still see a lot to the side and back through the side windows, but it is more practical when I can keep my head still and move my eyes to look in a mirror. When I started riding with da Hood, I added a second mirror to the right side of the body. But maybe there are other ways with minimal impact on aerodynamics? As usual such things are most beneficial in racing, so Cycle Vison is a good incentive to do some work in this direction.

In previous posts I already showed the mirrors inside the velomobile hood, thinking that it would only be somewhat practical in racing. It would mean reduced drag, since I could take off the two mirrors on the body of the Mango. Like in the film above is not quite how I rode during the races at Cycle Vision.  I was not quite happy and thought it needed further tweaking. I had to pinch one eye and move my head sideways to see somebody overtaking. What was worse is that I could not move my head freely as I am used to. My glasses could easily get into contact with the mirrors. It was so uncomfortable that it was quickly decided: I took off the right mirror. The track at CV was left corners only so I needed the left mirror the most. In addition (and since I was planning on filming anyway) I placed a bullet camera facing backwards with the screen/recorder unit on the right wheel box. The screen is very small though and the image is not mirrored, so velomobiles seemed to be overtaking on the wrong side. With all the left turns during the three hour race my brain was busy enough already, so it was not very helpful in the end. (though it made very nice shots of the race)

As you can see I also had a camera facing front...
As the mirror can be rotated around on an excentrical ball joint, I could move it outside the side window of da Hood, giving me a better view (and at the same time giving my glasses more clearance). I still had to move my head sideways to have a good look but it was good enough to see when I could cut back to the ideal line in front of a rider I was overtaking. In the "comments" section on YouTube, someone suggested it might be good enough for everyday. Well, not really, but it seemed like a plan worth investigating to me. So after returning from Cycle Vision the glued-on right mount for the mirror was taken off and replaced by a different one. The stem of the mirror was trimmed down even more and with these tweaks I can move the mirror out the window far enough to see behind me without moving my head sideways. I still have to pinch an eye though, but it seems that I might get used to it.

the right mirror gives the best view backwards

mirror partially outside the window

attachment of the mirror to da Hood. Note the
minimalistic  use of material ;-)

With the right mirror being placed to my satisfaction, I will make the same tweaks to the left mirror. It will have to compete though with the rear camera. Really? Yes! While it was very difficult to process all the visual info during the race, riding home in everyday traffic conditions made a much better impression on me. Sure, not having a mirrored image was slightly awkward, but what struck me was that I could see something approaching with ONE glance, instead of looking right AND left into the mirrors. The Vio recording/screen unit does not need much power either. After 7 hours of riding from Lelystad to Groningen, the 4 rechargeable AA batteries were still 40% full. Also here I need to make an adjustment: for the race I had mounted the bullet camera pretty low to give a nice sense of speed to the viewer, but the view towards traffic and the light compensation is much better when the camera is placed higher. I already made a new hole in the top of the Mango body for this, but my first plan to make a stable mount failed. Still some work to be done there.
low mount of the bullet camera, too low...
To my surprise  Cerevellum is also back with it's "Hindsight" rear view cycling computer. I had ordered this device years ago, but the manufacturer could not bring it to the market at the time and I got a full refund. Hopefully they have more more succes this time. It may seem like an expensive mirror, but being able to see what's behind without lumpy mirrors on a velomobile is an attractive prospect to me. For the time I will concentrate on my own system with the Vio unit. Vio has a new HD recorder with greater looking angle than the analog one I have now. If only it would be able to mirror the image it might be perfect for "hindsight" as well as making recordings.