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20 Nov 2013

Head fairings

A common question nowadays seems to be: 'Should I buy a Wim or a Sinner hood?' My answer is: neither of those. Not because they don't fit an Evo K, my VM doesn't need one to beat most of the competion, but because I see some serious drawbacks that are not mentioned enough. Yes, I have a special hood too, the Darth Vader one, but I only use it when I have a lot of room to gallop.

The first hood I used was the original vm.nl model, with a visor. The protection against cold winds, the aero advantage and snug feeling where nice, that's true. But I lost quite some sense of what was happening around me. And when in the dark, rain or fog your sight becomes really bad. Opening the visor improved my sight, but I was/felt still enclosed in a tight space and not able to move my head as much as I'd wish. What did help was that the Mango wasn't that fast at all, so it wasn't the biggest problem that I couldn't look very far ahead.

So, with good weather and clear roads, it wasn't that bad. Despite the huge difference in built quality, I still see Wim's hoods as something much similar to the original vm.nl hood.

Just before I sold my Mango I tested the Sinner hood. It's spacious! And thanks to the ear openings you can hear what's happening outside. But it also has two huge blind spots, just like the Beyss Evo hoods. And when it rains or when it's foggy, the visor becomes a hell to look through. You than open it, and the cold and the wet let you know you're not in a car.

Because, in my opinion, a hood should work when the it's raining, when it's foggy, when it's dark or when you have a combination of those. I don't need weather protection when the sun is shining. A velomobile should work in typical velomobile weather!

I have enough technical knowledge to admit that such a hood is not easy to make/design/manufacture. Honoustly, I don't know if it's even possible. My 'Darth Vader' does offer plenty of sight. And it has a hole instead of a visor. But it's still too much of a bubble that excludes the rest of the world a bit too much.

And there's another problem that fast velomobiles ad. A hood makes you so fast, that you run out of routes to ride on. This hugely depends on where you life. But for me up to 50kph is when I still enjoy the ride. Above that, It all becomes a bit too stressful.

I still see the advantages of a hood. But the disadvantages should be known too. I'm absolutely a 'head out velonaut'. Perhaps it's just that I have something that dislikes being fully enclosed. Fact is that without a hood you have better sight, can communicate better with other traffic and move your upper body more for cornering balance and sight. Things that I find very important for a fast velomobile.

I've written about rain protection before. Use the search function to find these posts.

10 comments:

  1. Hear hear. Although I wont have to deal with 50 kph or above. I am head out velonaut to. And I like it. ;)

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  2. The experience I encountered lately with my car almost would lead me to the conclusion the problem with vapor on the windows can only be solved with a combustion engine.
    I wonder how this problem is solved in an electric car? Electric heating costs even more energy than impulsion...

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  3. same here . dont like the confined space , the extra noise ,and the instant fogging . im kin of working on an adaptation of the system the orca and the versatile use

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  4. I fully agree with what you are writing. Head Fairings have some advantages, but the disadvantages count just as hard or even harder most of the year (when riding to work every day, on a track with a lot of other trafic).

    Kind regards, Richard

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  5. I agree. I have a hood, Harry's old VM.nl hood, but I have used it only three times for racing events. I'd never use it for everyday riding because it's dangerous. Visibility is greatly reduced, you can't hear anything from outside and it has a tendency to mist up. I also find that I can get too hot with the hood in place (no opening window on mine).

    Head out is far more enjoyable, you can see what's going on around you and interact better with other people. Life isn't a race.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that's my old racing hood David and it's no comparison with the Sinner Hood. The visor is right in front of your nose, cannot be opened and has no side openings. It's a pure race cap, not a touring cap and that's why I got rid of it.

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  6. To prevent fogging use two layers of Lexan (or any other kind of transparent shield) and keep some air between two layers (2mm spacing between the two is enough). This very simple method is used in motorbike helmets and it works (I have such visior). However visibility through two shields is a bit weird in night in the rain.

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  7. The waw-hood has a top that comes off, i really liked that!
    But just like you Peter, I like it better when my head (and body ;) ) is outside

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  8. I'm most surprised about the "getting too fast with the hood" comment. Like: "oh, I have a hood now, I MUST go fast". This is of course nonsense. The hood makes the velomobile more efficient, so you do not have to work so hard for a nice speed. This is important to note: you work less hard, so you produce less sweat and heat and therefore there is less chance of fogging. I commute 1600km a month with the most practical of hoods, the Sinner hood in all kinds of weather. It would be way less comfortable to do without it. Sure, when it's dark with rain and car lights shine on the visor I have to open the visor a bit to see enough. Even then most of the wind and rain is deflected and so the hood makes sure that I have less work to keep my glasses free of raindrops. With the kayak style cover it is more difficult to manoever the hand to the glasses to wipe off raindrops. No problem in the spacious Sinner hood. I'm also puzzled about the "huge blind spots". Where are they?
    There is no doubt that a hood does not turn the velomobile into a car. Rain on the visor is a real problem because we cannot use wipers. Fog can be largely prevented, but not completely because we cannot use hot air like in a car. So it is definitely true that one needs to be extra cautious when it's dark and rainy. But how can it be better than riding open. Riding open, you also have the problems of fogging and raindrops on the spectacles, but you do not have any of the conveniences of staying much drier and having a spacious cockpit.

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  9. @Harry:
    Thanks for your opinion. It's different from mine, but welcome here.
    I must mention that I don wear glasses anymore. That makes a difference too when it rains etc.

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