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Introducing PodRide, A Weatherproof Custom Quadcycle

A Swedish engineer built his own bike-like vehicle to keep commuting to work through winter. Now he’s selling schematics to other tinkerers.

Love biking but hate riding in subzero temperatures? Swedish mechanical engineer Mikael Kjellman built a bicycle-like custom four-wheel electric vehicle he calls the PodRide to keep him pedaling through the harsh Scandinavian winter, which can get down to -30 degrees Celsius. Now he’s crowdfunding to make a step-by-step guide so anyone can build their own winter-friendly quadcycle.

The PodRide’s weather-resistant fabric shell looks like an adorable shrunken car, but underneath is a functional commuter vehicle that keeps you dry through snow and rain. There’s a small 250-watt motor typical of electric bikes (and thus, street-legal) that gives the PodRide a max range of 60km (37 miles) and a top speed of 25km/hr (15 mph). Kjellman swapped out normal tires for 20-inch studded ones to grip ice and get traction on hills. The four-wheel arrangement is impressively stable, says Kjellman: in tests, he was only able to tip it by zipping around doing increasingly smaller donuts. It even has a little storage space behind the seat and a bike trailer hitch in back.

Kjellman’s design calls for comforts and efficiency: The extensively padded seat, for example, is also a necessary shock absorber for the reclined rider when the PodRide roams over bumpy terrain. Since it is is fully encased in a shell to ward off weather, the PodRide borrowed several elements from cars, such as a hand-powered windshield wiper, battery-powered headlights, and a portable electric heater to defrost windows. But Kjellman discovered PodRide’s other needs through trial and error as he refined its design: When he sealed himself in the shell for the first time, he approached a turn and stuck his arm out to signal–only to hit the window. He installed battery-powered turn signals soon after.

Kjellman is an outdoorsman and long-time bicyclist, so building PodRide was a way for him to keep commuting in harsh weather. But he’s also committed to providing to spreading the PodRide design for its positive environmental impact: The PodRide emits only 7g/km of CO2 compared to 140g/km emitted by a gas-powered car, according to the campaign’s page.

To be clear, Kjellman’s Indiegogo campaign isn’t selling fully assembled PodRides off the bat: Its basic reward is just plans and a parts list for DIY-minded folks to build their own. But the campaign has raised over $50,000 and met its third stretch goal, which means Kjellman will develop a full parts kit for purchase.

How long it will take for him to source the PodRide’s custom parts and refine the parts kit is uncertain, but in a project update, Kjellman noted that he hopes to have kits ready for sale in the fall for between $2,000 and $4,000. For now, the only PodRide is the prototype Kjellman built and has been using himself to ride to work for a year. Whether he refines it further is uncertain, but he certainly sees its potential as a platform, writing on the PodRide’s development page that the same base frame could support different frames and shells to make the PodRide look cute, sporty, elegant, or otherwise.

About the author

David Lumb is a tech writer who dabbled in the startup world and once did an investigative article on pizza.



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