Podbike – The electric bicycle created for Norwegian conditions
It does not look like a normal bike, but is enclosed and has four wheels. The bike is being developed in Sandnes using advanced 3D CAD tools. The aim is to launch Podbike on the market by the end of 2017.
“We are creating a brand new electric-assisted velomobile with four wheels and an enclosed glass body. Since it’s a bike you don’t need a driving license and you can drive through the toll booth for free. You are allowed to use the velomobile wherever regular bikes are allowed”, states Per Hassel Sørensen, one of the founders of Podbike.
The bike is electric-assisted, which means that you are still using your legs and pedals, but you also get help from the electronic transmission reaching a speed of up to 25 km/h. If you want to ride faster than this, you must assist by pedalling.
“The most important factor behind the idea of developing a new type of electric bike is protection from the weather. Bad weather is the main reason why people don’t use their bikes more in Norway. The main market for Podbike is those people who actually want to ride a bike, but don’t actually do so. The intention is not to switch those who already use regular bikes onto a Podbike but getting those using other means of transport to use Podbike instead”, explains Hassel Sørensen.
The range is 60 to 180 kilometers
“Using the standard battery the range of the Podbike is 60 kilometers, but we expect to triple this capacity to 180 kilometers for those who want to travel longer distances or want longer intervals between charges. And if you run out of power there is no need to panic because this is the basically a bike, so you can just use your legs and pedal home”, he smiles.
Creation of technical design using Solid Edge
“We use the Solid Edge design software from Digitread on everything from concept design to the final production stage. We also use Solid Edge when we create a simulation of the mechanical forces. When we are designing how the electrical cables should go, and where we should route the hydraulic hoses to the hydraulic brakes, we find all the tools we need in the premium version of Solid Edge”, Hassel Sørensen continues.
Almost everything in the entire design phase for all the technical know-how is performed in Solid Edge. But the exterior visual design is produced by an external design agency. “Since we have already been using Solid Edge for a while, we know the software well, but if we encounter problems in the design phase, it’s easy to get the help we need from Digitread’s experts in Sandvika. Without a 3D CAD tool, I think it would have been virtually impossible to create a product like the Podbike.”
A test fleet of Podbikes
“Right now Podbike is working on producing two prototypes that will be finished in early 2017. Then we will go ahead and create ten Podbikes that will become our test fleet. All the bikes in the test fleet will be sold to friends and acquaintances in the neighborhood. Those who buy one know that they are helping to test out products in their early stage and this is important for us so that we can become better acquainted with how it works. Using a test fleet is a very good way of receiving feedback. This way we can improve the product and deal with any problems before we mass produce Podbike on the commercial stage. In the test phase, we will fix errors on the bikes in the test fleet and replace the parts as necessary”.
The company expects that Podbike will be produced on a larger scale in late 2017. “With today’s possibilities for effective automation and completely modern production techniques using cost effective robots, 3D printers and new materials, we believe that it should be possible to produce Podbike in Norway at a reasonable price. It is possible to produce just about anything in Norway, but usually it is the price that is the problem.”
“One of our challenges is finding the right subcontractors as bicycle production no longer takes place in Norway. Much of the domestic industry in Norway is also adapted to smaller volumes where many of the products go to the oil and gas sector, and these companies are not familiar with the mass production that we need when we are producing various components for the Podbikes. Hence, we are aware that both material and production costs are relatively high using Norwegian technology, but we think it is possible. Some materials, such as plastic parts, we will need to buy from abroad”, reveals Hassel Sørensen.