New Armadillo bike ideal for large cargo
Compact and fast solution to delivering heavier loads over shorter distances
OF all the electric cargo cycles we’ve seen, including the Urban Arrow and 2X4, the Velove Armadillo promises the most pedal-assist cargo hauling capability.
The four-wheeled platform supports a big ol’ cargo box or semi-trailer on the rear, making the typical two-wheel grocery getter look downright undersized. The pedalled quad is so cargo hungry, Velove believes it can replace the cargo van when transporting smaller loads over short distances.
The Armadillo project was born in Sweden, where bike couriers deliver more than just documents, muscling things as large as sofas and washing machines across cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg. Velove co-founders Johan Erlandsson and design firm Kanter & Karlsson came up with the initial design, and Erlandsson’s dad engineered the first two prototypes, with Dutch recumbent manufacturer Flevobike stepping in on the third prototype. Erlandsson tells us they also received help from Erik Svetsare in designing the cargo hardware and have been testing the bikes in Erlandsson’s bike delivery service Pling Transport.
The idea of the Armadillo is to provide a quad platform large and sturdy enough to haul bigger, heavier loads while still remaining compact and fast enough to navigate bike paths without clogging up cycling traffic. Prototype 3 is outfitted with an integrated cargo box that swallows one cube metre despite measuring no wider than 86 cm, which Velove classifies as slightly narrower than a typical family cargo trike and a lot narrower than cargo trikes designed for professional use.
Velove estimates the pay load to be 125 to 150 kg.
“The bike is narrow enough to fit, fast enough to keep up with or overtake other cyclists, and low enough not to obstruct the traffic overview of other cyclists,” Erlandsson explains.
A Rohloff internal gear hub and 250watt Bosch Classic+ Cruise pedal-assist electric mid-drive gives the bike the power and torque it needs to mule large loads up steep, tough hills.
A double-wishbone suspension allows riders to roll over uneven surfaces at top speed without worrying about damaging the cargo inside. This is a large improvement over past prototypes, which had to be driven slowly and carefully when sensitive items like cakes were aboard. The suspension also helps in keeping the Armadillo nimble for its size, providing sharp cornering capabilities.
Velove revealed its pre-series production Armadillo at the International Cargo Bike Festival in the Netherlands earlier this month, showing the model with a 250-kg flatbed trailer in back. Erlandsson confirms that the Armadillo is a modular platform, so the rider can switch out the trailer for the cargo box as needed. Besides offering a higher weight capacity, the flat, open trailer also allows for hauling loads that don’t fit neatly in a cargo box, such as large furniture.
Velove has also teamed with the DHL Express branch in Almere, where the bike will be tested for about a month. Compared to other cargo bikes that DHL Express Netherlands uses in its fleet, the Cubicycle/Armadillo offers the space for loading larger parcels, the company explains. On average, DHL loads it up with 125 kg of cargo, and the courier rides it 50 km during the day.
Velove is moving toward production and hopes to begin taking orders for the Armadillo later this year or early next year. It has not yet established pricing.
The Armadillo with semi-trailer at the International Cargo Bike Festival.