You could see quite some photos and videos about the blue long-wheelbase recumbent bike with a somehow strange way of pedaling, a faring front and back, and an interesting super-strong kickstand. Canadian Fabrizio has been working on it for over 20 years and is getting close to first production batch of a vehicle which can be the ultimate urban recumbent of the future. He calls it Electrom.
Read more about another “Project to share” series.
The Electrom is an e-bike that has been designed from the ground up to offer as many of the conveniences of an automobile as possible while still legally remaining a bicycle. It can carry 100 liters of cargo or a small passenger, the Electrom also offers some weather protection for the rider as well as all of the lights and turn signals you would expect to find on a motorcycle. A key feature of the Electrom is the Generator Drive which allows the rider to pedal at a constant speed without having to shift through multiple gears. However, the rider’s energy is split and also goes via chain to the back wheel with one very low gear. This way the pedalling force helps get the vehicle up to speed and to help the motor climb hills that are too steep for the legal power allowances. The system is simple and automatic, there are no leavers to throw or gears to shift. The rider just pedals at a constant cadence against their chosen resistance.
The Electrom is just 24 inches wide and can easily slip past stalled traffic like a bicycle. This also allows it to easily fit within existing bicycle infrastructure. The two wheel format combined with robust 20 inch tires makes as comfortable on trails and and rough roads as it is on smooth pavement.
Future of the project:
We hope to produce the first five Beta Test bikes this summer for our Indiegogo backers and once we have received feedback from these riders we will go into full scale production.
Inspiration for the project:
I was working as a bicycle courier 20 years ago and noticed that a lot of the office workers around me were jogging on their lunch breaks. I thought it would be much better if they could ride a bike to work instead, but someone pointed out that they needed to arrive at work clean and not covered in sweat. I was inspired to build a vehicle that had some weather protection and that would allow the rider to exercise as much or as little as they wanted so they could gently spin into work and really exercise on their way home after work.
Time spent on it:
I had the idea twenty years ago, and have been working on the project on-and-off ever since. I would say that I have put over 2000 hours into the creation along the way. Of course I was also living a life, working and raising children at the time so there were lots of breaks. The current version of the Electrom is the 5th, and hopefully finally iteration. I am extremely please with the looks, functionality and handling of the vehicle.
Was the very first red bike some production bike or was it your production already?
The red bike was my first recumbent, A Varna SWB. it was a commercial product built by Georgi Georgiev, who also helped push the human powered speed records to new heights with the Varna Diablo and Varna Tempest.
I bought the bike from a friend and when he told me how he had damaged his knees while climbing hills I decided to add an electric assist kit. This was in 1998 and was what stated me down the the road to building my own bikes.
Why did you change from small like-a-scooter wheels to standard 20“ wheels?
There were a number of reasons: 1. the smaller scooter wheels were unnecessarily heavy, and used heavy Motorbike grade brakes and disks. I decided that it would be better to lose a lot of weight and I wanted a hub that would accept mountain bike disk brakes witch are higher quality, lighter, and still have enough stopping power. Actually an experienced Electrom rider does most of their decelerating with the regenerative e-brakes and the hydraulic brakes only come into play at the end. 2. the larger diameter wheels handle bumps and potholes better. 3. you probably know that the 20” bicycle standard is the same rim size as 16” motorcycle (406 mm) this means that by using these size rims I was able to mount very high quality Heidenau 2.75 inch moped tires. These tires are speed rated to 90 KPH and will last tens of thousands of kilometres. They are also less expensive than decent quality 20” bike tires, which does make me scratch my head as they are higher quality, use more materials and will last longer. They are heavier than bike tires, but far more road worthy. The Electrom spends a lot of time travelling on the shoulder of highways, and there’s a lot of debris there. The extra beefy tires really help in this situation. 4. Looks were also important. The smaller scooter wheels made the vehicle look too much like a scooter and I wanted people to think of it as more like a bicycle as it uses bicycle infrastructure. This has turned out to be true, I am getting a much better reception with the new wheel size.
What is the maximum weight of the transported pasanger and how much does a load like this placed quite high impact the stability and overall behaving of the bike?
The reality is that the Electrom is ideal for the transportation of smaller passengers, because as the weight goes up, the handling becomes more challenging. This is because the passenger weight is above the rider’s centre of gravity. I weigh 90 kilos and the largest passenger I am comfortable carrying is about 55 kilos. The heaviest passenger I have carried was about 90 kilos, but that was for a short, low speed trip and I would not recommend it. When we start to sell the Electrom i will recommend that the passenger weight be no more than 60% of the pilot’s weight.
Where do you expect to produce the bikes?
For the foreseeable future the bikes will be produced in Vancouver British Columbia. If there is demand I will look for manufacturing partners in other countries. Because the Electrom can be produced on a small scale i would prefer to set up local manufactures for local markets. I feel that this is the right thing to do ethically and it would mean that a buyer could get local support.
V1: 1998 – 2000
V2: 2003 – 2010
V3: 2010 – 2016
V4: 2016 – 2019
Name: Fabrizio Cross
Year of birth: 1969
Place of residence: Victoria BC Canada
Education: Diploma in Graphic Design
Job: Graphic Designer, Inventor, Bicycle Fanatic.
Bike(s): Too many to list. I have spent a lifetime in the bike world. Except for the Electrom most of my bikes are Mountain Bikes. I rode proffessioanly for Norco Bike here in Cananda as a demonstration Trials rider. I also organized the famous Hornby Island Mountain Bike Festival here in BC for ten years and owned a MTB Race timing company in the 90s and early 2000s called Ten36 Race Timing.
If we are going get more people out of cars and onto bikes, bicycles must come more convenient and comfortable.