Image: Whike Test Days
A Dutch company, Whike, has put a sail on a three-wheeler recumbent bicycle. The results: Extreme. Fun. And yet another excuse to start talking about an infrastructure where the many new alternative forms of transport can move about together safely. Like bike paths wide enough for tacking? Whike is legal for use both on streets and bike paths, so the promise of arriving at work without dripping pedal-power sweat beckons. But for now the Whike is being marketed as the newest extreme sport. Video of the Whike in action and technical details can be found below.
Whike Bike Really Sails
The Whike can only be driven by adults weighing at least 65 kg (145 pounds), to provide a stable resistance against a strong wind. In winds over 6 on the Beaufort scale, Whike recommends to pack away the sail and continue with pedal power. But when the wind is good, this baby really flies. "Overtaking a petrol driven Scooter with 50km/h is an absolute kick!" Says Olympic sailor Mischa Heemskerk, quoted on the Whike website.
Whike as a Bike
The Whike steers via the single front wheel and is stabilized by two rear wheels. The 19kg, 18 speed recumbent bike serves ordinary biking needs as well as a normal recumbent. It is fitted out with 40/65 cranks and Shimano Deore with ultegra shifters. To enable better control under wind power, the bike is equipped with disk brakes on all three wheels.
Whike Under Windpower
But when conditions and courage allow, out comes the 1.6 m2, 3-batten sail. The sheet has a quick-release spin lock integrated with the front brake, spilling the wind from the sail immediately when the riders steps to stop. A flexible mast keeps the Whike stable in case of wind gusts. Under normal conditions, the sail pushes the Whike at speeds up to 50 or 60 km/hr (over 30 mph). When the wind lets up, or you return to paths which are better served by pedal power alone, the three-piece mast and sail pack up easily and stow on the bike. Like all high performance bikes, the Whike does not come cheap, at â‚¬2999. Don't forget to include a good helmet in the budget.