This electric-assisted quad cycle has a top speed of 28 mph

The velomobile from Czech firm Katanga offers an electric-assist range of up to 150 miles.
Jijo Malayil
Katanga's VM45
Katanga's VM45


In a race to reduce human impact on climate change, there has been a renewed interest in sustainable forms of mobility that rely less on fossil fuels. Recently, the concept of the 'Velomobile', which promises to deliver on this promise is slowly coming to the forefront. A velomobile is basically a bicycle car that is human-powered and enclosed for aerodynamic advantage and protection from weather and collisions.

What has always limited the usability factor of such automobiles is the pace that they can achieve to become practical for various use case scenarios. Now, Czech mobility company Katanga has introduced its pedal-electric VM45 velomobile, which allows its riders to cruise at a top speed of 28 mph (45 kph). 

A practical offering

The VM45 is a quad cycle with an aerodynamic body shell that enables it to go faster than a traditional bicycle. The body of the vehicle is comprised of a composite material composed of aramid and carbon fibers in an epoxy matrix. The cockpit, which can host a single rider, is accessed by a side-opening lockable hatch on top, while the 350-liter (92-gallon) luggage compartment is accessed via a smaller downward-opening hatch at the back.

VM45's curb weight stands at just 174 pounds 79 (kilograms), and its dimensions stand compact at 2850mm in length, 940mm in width, and 1050mm in height. The vehicle can support a total weight of 267 pounds (121 kilograms).

Moving to what propels the vehicle, the VM45's chain-drive system includes a 7-speed, auto-shifting, 750-watt Valeo motor/gearbox that is said to boost the rider's pedaling strength up to 28 mph (45 kph) - it also features a reverse gear. Its motor is driven by a 48V/1,240-Wh lithium-ion battery, which should provide up to 158 miles (255 kilometers) of range in eco-assist mode.

This electric-assisted quad cycle has a top speed of 28 mph
The rear of VM45

According to the firm, the motor "multiplies the strength in your legs in such a way that you still feel that you are cycling and not sitting in a small electric car. The ride-feeling and the extremely stable cornering motivates you to ride sporty and pedal hard but you can also decide to ride relax," said a blog post by Katanga. 

Suspension duties are handled by DNM coil-spring shocks with 45 and 60 mm of travel in the front and rear, respectively. Drum brakes in the front and 160-mm disc brakes in the back provide stopping power, with the latter also serving as parking brakes on the VM45. To round off as a usable vehicle in all conditions, VM45 also features an electric horn and a full lighting system with headlamps, indicators, and tail lamps.

As qualifying a quad cycle with a 28 mph (45 kph) in the European Union testing regime is a time-consuming process, the firm aims to bring a 15 mph (25 kph) model with a nominal 250-watt motor for which no complex homologation process is required. The creators are also looking at offering a non-motorized version of the VM45, with customers given the freedom to choose the electric assist required. Estimates put a starting price of €11,000 (US$12,108) for the pedal-only option and the motorized version costing up to €13,000 ($14,310).

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