How the Goblin Aero Works

Goblin Aero Basics

The Goblin is structured like recumbent tricycles, like this one seen in China.
The Goblin is structured like recumbent tricycles, like this one seen in China.
China Photos/Getty Images

A velomobile is a human-powered machine based on the design of a recumbent tricycle. But it isn't simply a bike. It's typically motorized, yet not the same as a moped. So what makes a velomobile a velomobile?

If you mix a recumbent tricycle (the kind where the rider is low to the ground with his or her legs stretch out in front) and a small car, you've got yourself a velomobile. It's basically a like the tricycle except with a carlike frame that protects the rider from the weather and offers some safety features. In the case of the Goblin Aero, you can also get a model that's motorized, either gasoline-powered or all-electric.

The frame for the Goblin Aero is heavier-duty than a typical bicycle, and it has a full suspension system, so it's a more carlike ride. It's three-wheeled, so it stays balanced at stop lights without the driver having to put his or her feet down.

Adding to the car quality, the vehicle is enclosed. The Aero has a roof, windows, a windshield and a trunk along with a cushioned driver seat, turn-signal lights, a horn, a seat belt and other features typically associated with cars. And this velomobile, unlike some other models popular in Europe, is particularly American friendly: It'll hold a driver who weighs up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms).

The available engine helps the vehicle keep up with traffic, allowing it to travel at 20 to 30 miles per hour (32 to 48 kilometers per hour). The Aero has traditional bicycle-styled pedals, and the driver can pedal it most of the time, just like a bike. But the engine is there for added power and to ease the strain of long commutes. It especially comes in handy for climbing hills and for assistance off the line to increase acceleration. The engine stays on all the time, though, so the driver basically gets a "power assist" whenever it's needed.

And if there aren't too many uphills to contend with and you don't pack the trunk with grocery bags full of rocks (the trunk will fit about five grocery bags), the engine can manage up to 150 miles per gallon of gas (64 kilometers per liter).

At up to 30 miles per hour, the Aero is in car territory for local driving. That's one of the biggest benefits to the Goblin Aero -- it's a very flexible vehicle. You can take it where neither a regular car nor a regular bicycle can go.