Evaldas Virketis is a Lithuanian photographer whose dream was to commute to work by bike, but be dry even in bad weather. As he didn’t have enough money and space to park it, his dream had to wait 10 years to come true. And his velo really comes from the land of dreams.
Project introduction: It’s a dream come true! I’ve been using a bicycle as my main transport while living in the center of the city. Here in Lithuania, we have harsh winters (up to -30C). And during summer lots of rain! That’s how I started looking for a solution to keep my head dry while pedaling. After googling some funny photos of cycles with an umbrella I finally found actual velomobiles existing as a perfect solution for my needs!
But I didn’t have the money and the place to keep it. That’s how I told my self: “One day, I’ll build it on my own one!” And 10 years later the day has come. I moved out to the suburban area and I finally had a decent garage for my long term project.
Future of the project: The main goal was reached, to use it as my daily means of transportation. Many people have asked: “When are you starting mass production?”. But my answer is – I’m not going to do it. It’s a way too difficult challenge. But I might consider building a few preordered units if someone would pay 15.000 EUR. I see it not as traditional velomobile, it’s not only practical, but it’s art piece too! Which leaves weight and aerodynamics as a smaller priority.
Inspiration for the project: I was inspired by redwood powerboats, morgan trike, and hotrods.
I think you can easily see all these three coming together in my project.
Time spent on it: I started from donor recumbent trike, which was a great start to figure out geometry and other connections. After taking a few pictures of me sitting on it I started drawing a 3D model around these pictures. The design stage took around 3 months, the making of the first version took another 6 months. So it took me 9 months of building it (mostly evenings and weekends). It was launched on my birthday in September 2019 09 (you will see a video of me riding it for the first time ever). My first working prototype was equipped with BBS02 mid-drive motor setup, but after using it for a few months I noticed that it overheats and the battery from my previous ebike was too small.
So I decided to switch it to hub motor and a bigger battery, which gives 100 km / 62 miles range now.
Past experiences and similar projects: I’ve never built anything like that, though I’m familiar with garage tools. I’ve had few restoration projects before. A motorcycle and and old Mercedes Benz. But this velo was a good reason to learn to weld!
By the way, one of my professions is interior design, which led me to choose wood as an exterior material.
How far do you have it to work and how quickly can you make it?
Since I’m a freelancer the distance to my clients varies. Some times 40 km / 25 miles going both ways. Sometimes 60 km / 37 miles. The furthest distance in one charge I have ridden was 90km.
Isn’t it cold inside in the winter? The front grill seems to be open.
The coldest I rode it was 0c. If colder then the front glass evaporates from inside and you can’t see the road 😃. But it wasn’t cold inside, because it has a cable controlled front grill to shut it off completely. The velomobile has no holes in the bottom and the reverse gear is electric so there is no airflow inside.
What is the maximum speed?
Because of the electric bike restrictions in Lithuania, the motor is limited to 1 kW and 25km/h (16 mph). But I’m sure if the motor could be unlocked it could go 60 or even 80 km/h (50 mph) ! But I don’t take the risk. I don’t want it to be confiscated!
Which detail do you like most on the bike?
Since I never owned a recumbent and didn’t have a chance to try it, but I had a feeling that I should like it. This is what makes me happy the most about it, I just love using it!
What do you want to improve?
There always are small bits and pieces to improve while using the velo, but the next improvement will be an extra battery pack for going longer distances. It should add 50 km / 31 miles to the range. By the way, I made a DIY fast battery charger too, which is capable to fully charge it in 2 hours!
Name: Evaldas Virketis
Year of birth: 1987
Place of residence: Kaunas, Lithuania
Education: I’ve finished bachelor studies as an interior/furniture designer, but my second profession with a master degree is a Journalist (which I’ve never worked).
Job: I’m working as a freelance videographer, photographer now.
Bike(s): Long John cargo bike 1940’s, Kettler tourist bike ~1970s
Motto: If I can’t buy it, I will make it myself!