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29 Apr 2010

The Glyde, my thoughts about the one at Spezi

Important: also read the comments to learn more!

There it was, after months of anticipation, bright and yellow, young and beautifull, the Greenspeed Glyde velomobile. I really was astonished by the looks of it. Yellow is far from my favourite colour,but that didn't matter. This machine looks so much better than the competition. Low, wide, with styling in stead of a shape and with nice details.

Everything that follows is my personal opinion, I've not ridden it, it's based up-on my experiences and knowledge about velomobiles. Personally want the Glyde to be very good.

It has a headlight unit mounting place, just like a Flevobike Alleweder. That gives it a face. There is striping too and there a pretty light unit at the back. The end of the fairing wraps nicely around the rear wheel and the windscreen could come straight from a single seater race car. The 16" wheels don't look to small like on other vm's that have that size up front. Of course, 20" rolls better and offers a wider range in possible tyres. The suspension looks high tech, although I do think it asks for more maintenance than the simple suspension struts on most other vm's do. Disc brakes are powerfull, but I love the reliability of drums. Offering that as a possibility would be a smart move.

I've been told that it handles very well and I can imagine why. Good suspension, 'panzer lenkung' and a low centre of gravity. Cornering could be great fun with this thing. Another thing I like is the frame which is made from Chromoly steel, just like Nazcas. The frame is nicely made. My idea is that, since there's a subframe supporting the whole Glyde, the fibreglass could be kept thin and light. Sadly though, it isn't. The shell is very thick and probably contributes to the weight of 38kg. But this is one of the first ones they've made, so it should be possible to get the weight down to a more acceptable sub 33kg. It's just a faring, there's no need to make it that strong. Some places need to be strong, but the majority should be made a lot lighter. 38kg is in the same range as the Quest, Strada, Versatile and probably some other vm's as well.

The Australian velomobile could use more material in on very specific area, around the chain. The chain is shielded from the outside world, but not from the rear wheel. And the problem is that an unprotected chain is horrible during Winter time, or when it rains, or when the road is dusty. With that I mean a real winter, with dirty roads and snow. Luckily, the things I mentioned can be improved. The German velomobile Milan for instance uses no special components to achieve a fully enclosed chain, just like the Velayo and Go-one Evo 3. Quest and Mango do use special components to wrap their chain, but those come with single side mounted wheels too. The Leibas, Leitras, Alleweders, Cab Bikes, Sunrider and WAW's also have their chain exposed.

Also the fit and finishing of the shell leaves room for improvement. The wiring wasn't all figured out too. The wiring for the rear indicators was blocking the opening to the rear luggage area. But, I mention it again, this was one of the first!

A fabric or foam thing to reduce to size of the opening would be very handy in case it rains. Right now, I guess you'll have to use a Flevo-roof. Getting into the Glyde is car-ish, via a swinging hatch, which is good, as long as it's doesn't rattle on rough roads. But, since I didn't ride it, that questions remains unanswered. I'm sure I'll like the air intake. Getting fresh air when cycling is very important, especially when you're a bit asthmatic like me. Another comfort aspect is the seat. It comes with a mesh seat and that looks like a good combination with a velomobile.

The drive train had a Dual Drive hub, I think. I'd prefer a big 65 tooth chain ring up front in combination with a 52 and a 44 or so. Hubs are less efficient than dérailleurs, and velomobiles need to be efficient. Shifting wouldn't be very smooth with that combination, but the efficiency should be worth it. This sort of steering set-up is perfect for using bar-end shifters. Is this a fast machine? That's hard to tell without a test ride. I guess it's in the Mango range, that means fast enough. Lowering the weight should ad to the fun.

A good final question is: 'Would I want one?' With less weight, drum brakes, a little foam cover, better finished shell and, most important, a well protected chain and more money on my bank account, Yes. Because I like the special details, the looks and the steering. In white with red striping and set of lights from Busch und Muller please.


  1. i toke some video of the glyde, you can see it at
    and later today all my other movies and pictures from spezi 2010 at
    The same place also has all the videos i recorded at the 6th european velomobile seminar in copenhagen this fall. Of ALL the speakers.

  2. Hi Pjotr, thanks for writing, it is great to get some opinions flowing in.

    We do have plans for a convertible lid and hope to be developing that shortly. Also we are looking at an alternative hatch that will replace the current one if people want to be fully enclosed. Should only be 3 bolts to swap the two. We have prototypes for this.

    The yellow gel-coat finish was too transparent for our liking, so we paint the yellow over white which is adding weight, but hopefully less than what 3 coats of the gel would add. All the other colours are lighter with one coat of gel.

    It will be interesting to see over the years how much lighter we can get Glyde, there are some place we can likely cut down weight.

    At the moment we need to concentrate on making a bulletproof commuter to compete with all other forms of transport so we are okay to swap a little weight for longevity.

    Weight can be saved currently with component choices. We are set up with DualDrive and 105/Tiagra level components. To go for a basic 20 or 30 speed would reduce your weight and are options for Glyde.

    Interestingly however most people are opting for DualDrive, and the rest are going for Rohloff's and/or Schlumpf drives. No one has gone for 20 or 30 speed yet.

    Best regards ~ Mick Sims.

  3. Hi Pjotr,
    You are good at this just by eye! Your comments mirror my observations that took me 1000km of touring on a Glyde to reach.
    I do disagree with your brake comment - drum brakes may be fine in flat countries or where there are only gentle gradients but in hilly areas these machines pick up speed fast. I never felt confident that my Quest would be able to stop hard on a steep descent (I know there is now a larger drum option), I've taken the Glyde fast down the 14% into Dover with a full camping load and had absolute confidence in the brakes, and that was just with the cable brake option fitted - I usually ride with hydraulic discs.
    The availability of discs and Schlumpf MD was a primary factor in my choice of investing in buying this velo.
    The more weather protection for the chain, the better - absolutely agree!
    Foam cover - again agree - I needed to wear a waterproof jacket on the wet day during my tour and to throw a tarp over the velo at night.
    I initially had rattle from the hatch but this was very easy to tune out and the noise level is currently similar to that in my Quest.
    The cornering IS awesome - I am still working on unlearning the backing off for corners that I adopted when commuting by Quest. I've not yet managed to unweight a wheel in a corner let alone lift it.

  4. Thanks for excellent comment Rob.

    I wouldn't trust my drum brakes at all on a 14% decent. But (big) drums with Jag Wire cables should do fine in my flat little country.

    Where I wrote: 'I've been told that' I actually was revering to you.

    I sometimes imagine myself riding a velomobile that does take corners well. You need to be either tall or heavy to corner properly in most other velomobiles. But I'm only 5' 10" and just about 63kg, so that's another point scored by the Glyde.

  5. If you are at CycleVision we should have a Glyde racing - I won't be there, Ian Fardoe will is riding it over and competing. You might be able to pursuade Ian to give you some seat time to try the cornering!