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10 Mar 2010

Test ride: Sinner Mango Sport

Today I did a little test ride in a Sinner Mango Sport. I was invited by the Ligfiets Garage Groningen. Would I be able to tell the differences between my Mango and the new Mango Sport, with 24,000 kilometre experience in my Yavixa as a background? Yes I was, the Sport is different in so many ways. I'll first have to tell you about Yavixa. She's been fine tuned to be exactly as I want a velomobile to be. It's quite close to the optimum I could wish for. Maybe a bit more light, less weight and better finishing, but nevertheless she suits me like a glove. Seat, tyres, gearing and add-ons, after more than two years, it's all sorted out.

A video from 2008 with Yavixa.

Her specialty is being silent, for a velomobile that is. The noise level of other velomobiles always comes as a surprise to me. A combination of delicate adjustment, different chain tensioners, better idlers, a slightly different chain route, lots of chain oil, the right tyres and good servicing, have made her a joy for the velonaut's ears.

Well then, there's a lot the mention, so I'd better use a new paragraph for each topic. The finishing of the Sinner bodies is much better than that of the Beiss bodies. The German firm Beiss used to make them before Sinner did, Yavixa has a Beiss shell. They've also improved a lot on the inside, although it's not yet up to my standards. Must be that I'm used to the Nazca level of finishing. Don't get me wrong, it's good right now, it's me who likes to fiddle with tiny little details to get them exactly as I want them to be.

The electric part of the Sport is very simple. There's enough to be seen and to read your speedo. If you want a good headlight, you can opt for a mirror mounted B&M IQ-speed as you see on the photo. Take a look at Yavixa and you'll understand how I want lights to look, like an integral part of the vehicle. The IQ-speed is a fabulous head light and it works very good mounted this way, but it's just not car-ish enough for me. And what's a vm without indicator lights? Four pairs please, just like the Quest has.

The sounds level does need a little of fine tuning as I did on Yavixa. The main cause are the tyres. Duranos are light and fast, but also hard (and not long lasting). For a 130 grams more you have a set of Kojaks to tackle this problem. They did fit my favourite idler, a Terra Cycle one, so that part was as up to my standard.

Disc brakes are powerful, but wouldn't like what I do with drum brakes in the winter, which is close to nothing, except for braking every now and then. I lube a few parts once a year and spray them with Vaseline to protect them against salt. Disc brakes need cleaning and wouldn't like being covered in snow. Discs are fine for good weather and hills. Drums are the choice for a year round commuter. Sinner is thinking about switching from hydraulics to cable operated discs. Their current system has one very large problem. If one side leaks or bursts, the other one fails as well. They both use the same fluid, reservoir and lever. One broken cable however, still leaves one cable operated brake working. Luckily, drums are available at no extra costs, the choice is yours.

The standard version of the Sport comes with a 'compact' crank set, which I don't like. One blade extra, a triple, gives much better gearing. With a compact there's always the need to shift with the front dérailleur. My Mango's triple middle blade has the right range from 0 to 35. The big blade is to big for a smooth standing start, but is good at high speeds. The smallest blade is for climbing. How 200 grams can make such a big difference...
Shifting however, is something the Sport does very well. It has a 10 speed cassette and bar-end shifters. Those shifter should be standard on each velomobile! Sometimes you don't have the grip for gripshifters. Gloves solve that problem, but that's no pleasure on a warm day. A 10 speed cassette gives nice small steps between gears. Nine would do and be a lot cheaper, but 10 isn't that silly as I first thought.

The seat is comfortable and will need a thin layer of foam to be good. A ventisit is a little to much, riding without a pad really hurts. (could be my 'lack' of body fat) The holes make for good ventilation and seriously reduce the weight.

Well than, how does it handle? Quick, direct, agile, but a little rough. In other words, very sporty. The weight advantage (5kg?) isn't the only good thing, the whole thing, all the parts, the light tyres make it feel, well, sporty. Accelerating is a joy, it all feels so lively. Once again, a bit more rubber on the front would be welcome. What most impressed me was the direct feeling it gave me, like a little dancing mosquito

As a conclusion I can say that the Sport is an excellent vm for touring, racing and recreational rides. For the price of maybe 1.5kg more it'll also make a good commuter velomobile like my Yavixa is. Because when I rode home in my heavy and 'old' girl, it did all feel very comfortable and car-ish, as it should be. I wouldn't want to miss my extra lights, fatter tyres and drum brakes. Going for a Sport, with those changes I mentioned, would be a step forward. Faster and even more fun to ride.

The great thing about such a special product as a velomobile is that a lot of things can be done as you'd like. Gearing, lights, brakes and tyres as you'd like them. Only problem is of course, the budget. I'd like to have one, I'd recommend it to others, but can't afford it now. And now where at the money topic, a Sport costs €6000,- The only velomobile with a truly fully enclosed chain, that's sub 28kg is a special Milan. That one is also faster on the straights, but costs a whole lot more.

A video I made early February.

More Mango Sport photos.
More Yavixa photos
The Ligfiets Garage Groningen website
A video explaining my Mango, great for newbie velonauts or for those who like to more about the Mango in specific.


  1. Yet another great review of the Sinner Mango Sport. I personaly haven't ridden it, but I've seen it first at the LFGG when I picked up my Mango+ about 5 weeks ago.

  2. When it comes to lightning, I'm always amazed why anyone would go for an outer shell solution (like on your picture). Just like the WAW, the Mango Sport has got a very good streamline and looks very fast, until you notice the position of the "headlight". Yuk !
    And no front wheel covers ?
    Any velomobile without wheel covers looks like something is missing ....

  3. @ stradaatje
    I think they left of the wheel covers to show the disc brakes. But you're very right when saying that every vm should have them.

  4. Stradaatje: Customers who want the lowest possible weight don't have the internal light. However, headlights can be built in, and have been built in to Mango Sports in exactly the same way as they are in other Mangos.

    You can see a photo of a Mango Sport fitted with two internal lights on the ligfietsgarage website (at this moment only on the English language page).

    Peter is right about the wheel covers. We left them off so the disc brakes could be seen. They are supplied with the bike and the clips to hold them are visible in Peter's photos on the wheels of the Mango Sport he rode.

    The same goes for indicator lights, which are in any case an option on the Mango Sport, seat cushions, different tyres, different gearing options, drum brakes (we have two different sizes available) in place of disk brakes etc. These are all options. Some of them carry a weight penalty, but the maximum weight of a Mango Sport with all these options will still be much lighter than most competitors, and certainly lighter at the price.

  5. David : I do understand that the headlight can be built in, my point is that the outer body solution really ruins the elegant looks of the velomobile. Besides, whether you have your headlight built in or put on the outside, weight should be the same. I guess the only advantage of having the headlight outside is that you can take it off (and thus save some weight).
    Oh well, luckily we all have our different preferences, otherwise we would be riding the same velomobile ;-)