I had the chance to meet Velomtek in August 2019, when the VT1 project was slowly taking shape.
But it was in 1976 that I got hooked on velomobiles. I still remember it, I had read about it in the Book of the Year 1976. The article was about this new “bicycle” that was already breaking speed records. At that time we called them HPVs, or human powered vehicles. I dreamed about it so much…
Forty-two years later, it was time for me to get one… finally!
My research to acquire one, was done, obviously, via the Internet. And the first results of my research directed me essentially towards Europe. After a few emails across the Atlantic, I asked about the customs and transportation fees which alone would add $3000 to the purchase price.
But one evening, I found the website of Velomtek…from Beloeil…Huh? Beloeil ? for real ?
-Impossible !!! I say to myself
– I tell you !!! ( here it’s Velomtek that answers me.. )
A first quick meeting, in August 2019, and several email exchanges allowed me not only to ask the first 1000 free questions but also to identify all the seriousness that Francois Garneau was willing to invest in order to complete this project.
Finally came 2020. Well… 2020 didn’t come alone…. Well no… but you know that, in fact, we all know that.
So immediately after 2019 came… 2022 where I was able to make first contact with the VT1 for a test drive.
And throughout the process I found myself sincerely privileged to see the technical evolution of the VT1 and its manufacture. Francois regularly sent me photos of the evolution of my VT1. I even went to the improvisation, where I could see my VT1 in the paint room… Love at first sight…😊
As you may already know, riding this type of vehicle brings a lot of encounters. And once people understand that it is in fact a bicycle, they ask me why?
Well, I don’t tell them my story from 1976, but I used to ride my bike a lot when I was in high school. I have always loved cycling. And if I had to talk to you about the most important points… two points are essential for me and that the VT1 gives me.
The first one is to reduce my carbon footprint. My job requires a lot of travel in Quebec and my car alone produces 6 tm of C02/year. In Quebec, it is a little more than 10 tm on average per person. But for me, the 6 tm is just my car, even if it is economical. With the VT1, I expect to reduce my C02/year by one metric ton. Technically I should do at least 5000km this year.
The second point is … well, how do I put this? Ok… let me get this straight… Often we talk about the weight of age, in fact in my case… in my weight there is not only age… there is also a little bit of fat, barely… but still…
But no joke the VT1 is going to get me back in shape or keep me in shape, and that’s 12 months out of the year… yes… yes… December January February too.
In fact I ordered the VT1 with the full visor. When I ordered it I was not sure about this option. Usually we use the visor when it rains or when it’s cold. In short, everything you need to maximize the fogging.
But no, none of that, in fact the way it was designed, makes sure that there is no moisture accumulation in the visor. As soon as there is air circulation, the fog goes away…You know, at the beginning what I was telling you…the seriousness that Francois was willing to invest…. Very satisfied with this option, even I am surprised.
With this complete visor I use my VT1 12 months a year. For this I installed winter tires. Yes, yes … I’m serious, you know tires with studs.
The traction is awesome. It’s like being on a paved surface in summer. 20 X 1.60 tires in the front at 40 PSI for comfort and 20 X 2.15 in the back at 60 PSI.
And my winter kit also includes Shimano PD-M829 pedals. These are actually platform pedals that are installed on Fat-bikes. What’s special about these pedals is that they have cleats too. This allows me to keep my winter shoe on. And with this type of pedal, I tell you, the foot does not move.
This winter, I used my VT1 mainly to go grocery shopping or on short hikes. Don’t worry, in winter, I don’t go out every day. But as soon as the weather is nice and the temperature is above -5 C, it is very comfortable to ride my VT1 with the full visor.
With spring coming up, I’m sure I’ll be using it every day and I’m even planning to visit my clients who are less than 20 km away. I’m telling you the weight of age will lessen…
Maybe you’d ask me and then after all that? In fact if I have any plans related to the VT1?
Actually, soon, late this fall 2023, I have a project to solarize it. In fact, it is to build a solar trailer, which attached to the VT1, would charge the battery. This will give me an autonomy of several hundred kilometers. Because you see, I would like to use the VT1 to travel during my vacations. And one of the trips, because yes, there are several to make, would be to cross Canada from west to east. And since I can’t be away for more than 21 consecutive days, well… for 6000 km…. It will not take too much time to recharge. But as a project there are also Cape Breton, NS, the tour of the island of Newfoundland, the tour of Gaspésie and the Yukon. And all these projects are in solar.
I am often asked if we should prioritize such a purchase? Or how can one justify the purchase of a VT1? For my part, there is a long history with velomobiles… 1976 I said…
In fact, the justification can be taken from different angles, whether it is health, low cost mobility, as a second car for local trips, carbon footprint, change of scenery or meeting people. Many of these points cancel out the cost of acquiring the VT1.
An important point is that, in my opinion, we have to rethink our mobility, our carbon footprint, but also our environmental footprint, on resources etc.
But the right decision is the one for which you want to move in VT1. Point.
Looking forward to meeting you on the roads of Quebec and sharing with you about this year 1976…
Name: Michel M.
City: St-Narcisse-De-Beaurivage, Qc, Canada
Use category: Active transportation
Original text: French