Made On Earth — Pedal Power

Craft & Design


As gas prices soar, Ian Fardoe of Staffordshire, England, is faring better than most — at least better than those of us who drive cars. The 40-year-old is car-free and always has been.

“I’ve been cycling all my life. I did learn to drive a car but realized that I hated it a long time before I took my driving test, so didn’t even bother,” he explains. And with the price of petrol above 130 pence a liter (about $8 a gallon) this year, he’s much better off.

Fardoe commutes 4,000 miles a year by bike, so building a wacky, plastic-wrapped tricycle is no surprise. Called a velomobile, the trike’s outer shell is made from repurposed corrugated plastic that was harvested from a recumbent bike’s fairing, and fashioned after vehicles found in Australia’s Pedal Prix.

The first build took about six weeks, but Fardoe spent 18 more months tweaking the design to make it more practical and efficient. The initial frame weighed in at only 11lbs and didn’t stand up to his 6-mile commute to work.

“I bought some hot glue and zip ties, etc., to make it look remotely pretty. The making it pretty bit didn’t work very well,” he jokes.

Overall, the vehicle cost about £2,600 ($4,000) to build — far less than commercial velomobiles, which can cost twice that price.

Fardoe admits his way of building is very learn-by-doing, which is how his vehicle earned the name OTP (On the Piss).

But hot glue and zip ties aside, it’s a pretty serious ride. He’s done 125 miles in a single trip and reached a top speed of 73mph going downhill, 53mph on flat ground.

In the process, Fardoe has become a pretty serious velo pilot; at press time he was planning to race a commercial velo in the Cycle Vision races in the Netherlands in June.

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