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April 19, 2016
Johan Erlandsson

Along the Rhine in a solar and muscle powered quadricycle. Day 1, Nijmegen-Rheinberg

I have been waiting for a long time for an opportunity to take the Armadillo quadricycle on a longer trip. Partly because mini adventures like this are one of my passions. It is both exciting and relaxing at the same time to find your route and see the landscape pass by in a speed not faster than it allows you to take it in. The recumbent position is also very well suited for this, being a lot more comfortable on long stretches, and as it is a more relaxed driving experience, more attention can go to take in the surrounding landscape.

The other reason for doing this is that I am really curious about how the Armadillo behaves as a touring cycle, as being the developer of the Armadillo. I tried prototype 1 and 2 in 2012 and 2013, traveling to Copenhagen and Stockholm, but I haven’t tried later versions of it on longer tours.

So, now I am attempting to ride an Armadillo two-seater from Nijmegen, Holland to Germersheim, Germany. The route is along the Rhine and the goal is to go the 500 km to show the Armadillo at the special bikes show, SPEZI. 100 km per day for five days.

I am departing from Nijmegen after having participated in the International Cargo Bike Festival 2016. It was hectic days for me, with the highlight being the workshop on containerization. As always, you have the feeling that you didn’t have enough time to test all the latest innovations and to hang out with all the nice cargo bike people. But that’s the way it is.

The day before my engineering partners Flevobike worked half-way through the night. Finally, we had two Armadillos somewhat prepared for ICBF 2016 and loaded in the van. Yes, the Armadillo is narrow, so you can put two next to each other in a van! 

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany
Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

On Saturday, the conference day, I didn’t plan to offer any testrides. But I couldn’t resist the wishes of this sweet Marseille couple, Caroline and Ilan. They were very eager to test the Armadillo in steep hills and had checked out which one was worst in Nijmegen. So we went to the park in central Nijmegen for some hill climbing!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

On Sunday it was time for the cargo bike parade, this year with some nice music from Orchestre Bicyclette. Weather was nice to start with, but when the rain started pouring down the passenger seat suddenly became very popular… 

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

Our Armadillos were rolling more or less the whole day, with all sort of drivers and passengers… The possibility to hop in with your loved and go for a ride seems to be some kind of basic human desire! 

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany
Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany
Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

On Monday morning it was time to say goodbye to my fantastic hosts Simone and Bert. Some things needed to be fixed on the Armadillo to prepare it for the attempt to go to Spezi. Who could help me?

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

This team had no idea they would spend the morning preparing the Armadillo for the trip, but they did anyway! Absolutely fantastic support by Jos, Daniel, and Teun! Lights, mirrors, corrected tire alignment, noise prevention, tools, lock, lost items from the day before -they took care of it all!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

Daniel from Colombia preparing a mirror mount. Check out his Pargal, made in Colombia!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

Teun makes the most fantastic bicycles. He salvages wrecks and turns them into absolute jewels, mixing old and new technology. Definitely worth a visit to the Cargo Bike Centre on its own!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany
Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

It was about time to roll, which I did. I soon reached the border to Germany.

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

McDonald's, what a great place for the quadricycle adventurer. Calories, power for the batteries, roomy parking… What else could you wish for?

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

Have no idea what this was when going in to the city of Kleve, but seems important!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

First day ended up with 75 km of driving. First class cargo cycle treatment, with closed off backyard at the hotel in Rheinberg!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

I was even offered charging of the batteries in connection to the Armadillo. No carrying of heavy batteries to the room.

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

I have learned lots today! One 0,55 kWh battery lasted 55 km at full assist. Slight tailwind and flat, but still better than I had hoped. It shows the body has some aerodynamic qualities and everything else is running nice. An energy consumption of 0,1 kWh/10 km is one fifteenth of the energy consumption of an electric car.

Solar charging in cloudy weather gave half a battery charge, which seems in line with what I have heard that the panel gives half the effect in cloudy weather. That means that you get 25 solar assisted kilometers per day in cloudy weather, at full assist. Will be interesting to try in full sun too! Thanks to my local energy company Göteborg Energi for funding solar panel charging!

Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany

Also happy that the body is not complaing at all. I have to admit tcomplainingnot fit at all, having been too occupied with work and the newest family member to have time to exercise enough. I was a bit worried that legs and knees would complain, but at least this first stage worked very well! Tomorrow I go again, targeting 100 km if everything continues to go smooth.

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