Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Mobii Trike

When I visited Copenhagen Cyclery this weekend, I also test rode the Velorbis Mobii Trike. Yay, trike! I’ve been wanting to test ride a three-wheeled beast for some time now. When I wrote about the WorkCycles Bakfiets a couple of months ago, I mentioned that I could not know for sure how I felt about it without riding a trike for comparison.

The Mobii (love the name!) comes in one size and two powder-coated colors: orange and gray. Designed and handmade in Denmark, this thoroughly modern, steel-framed stunner has the power to erase whatever old-fashioned connotations the word “tricycle” has.

Riding the Mobii with regular clothes and shoes is as effortless as riding in a car. The trike is equipped with all of the classic city bike features that make it so easy to get on and go: chainguard, fenders, wheel lock, plush sprung saddle and no-slip pedals. Unfortunately, a major benefit is missing: lights. Generator lights are so important on a bike like this. The omission is a head-scratching misstep.


 

Changing gears is simple and hills less daunting with the SRAM 5-speed internal hub. The weather-protected and doubled-up roller brakes and coaster brakes remove all worries of stopping power, no matter how heavy the load.

Someone remarked that the bakfiets is a cargo bike that can carry kids, and the trike is a kid bike that can carry cargo. I agree with that, as the Mobii is designed with passengers’ comfort in mind. The trike has a large box on the front rated to carry 220 pounds, equipped with a plush bench seat and two safety belts. There is ample room for two small children and several bags or boxes of additional cargo. The weather cover can be unzipped and removed. The front door unlatches and opens so little ones can easily climb in and out.

Of course, a cycle with two front wheels is not as maneuverable as a regular bicycle. This problem is ameliorated on the Mobii: the two front wheels and the box turn separately from the rest of the bike, making cornering a bit easier.

Although made for stability, the trike is not so stable if you ride it like a regular bike. I got a quick reminder of this when the front left wheel popped off the ground as I rode up the small sidewalk ramp. Yikes! I felt a bit topsy-turvey when turning in general, but nothing as dramatic as the wheelie.

As with the Velorbis Studine, the Mobii’s seat tube angle is steep compared to a bike like the Workcycles Bakfiets. This means my body is positioned somewhat straight up from top to bottom, as the pictures show. This was not an issue for me. Although I felt perched differently than on the Bakfiets or my Dutch city bike, I felt pretty much the same pedaling.

The geometry issue for me is the reach to the handlebars, which I felt was quite long. As a result, I had to lean forward a bit and keep my arms straight. The bars can be raised, but cannot be moved any closer to me. I would prefer swept-back bars that come to me, instead of me going to them. Then again, I may be the only person on earth who feels stooped over on this bike ;)

The trike is totally stable while stopped, making it unnecessary to put a foot down for balance. A kickstand is likewise unnecessary. This is the major benefit of the bike. The equivalent of my “wheelie” moment with the bakfiets was when the bakfiets nearly fell over on me when I tried to push it up closer to the bike rack. That would not happen with the trike.

Here is the Mobii in gray. Now I want a disco ball for my bikes!

Whether one prefers a two-wheeled bakfiets or a trike is a personal decision.

My conclusion is that people who are somewhat wary of bikes and worry about perceived stability may favor the trike. On the Mobii I was perfectly balanced while stopped, even with no foot on the ground. I could walk the trike effortlessly without worrying about it tipping on me. Loading and unloading precious cargo would be a snap, with no need to set up a kickstand.

On the other hand, people who are one with their bicycles and worry more about speed and maneuverability may favor the two-wheeled bakfiets. The Mobii is not as fast or efficient as the bakfiets. For someone used to riding a regular bicycle, the Mobii handling sometimes could be awkward and frustrating.

I fall into the second category: I am much more comfortable on two wheels than three. With my imaginary child, I could see myself riding the trike to daycare, dropping off the kid, and then pulling a regular bicycle out of the hedges for the additional five mile ride to work. In a different imaginary-world-scenario, I could more easily see myself riding a bakfiets the whole way. That said, riding either type of cycle would become second nature once I invested in it and made it a part of my life. What seems awkward on the first ride becomes normal over time.

At $3,895 the Mobii is not child’s play, but for someone serious about transportation cycling with children, a trike is definitely worth looking into. I’m sure I don’t have to talk about the savings and benefits compared to a car, van or suv. ;)

I know some of you out there have trikes (MamaVee and others) – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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48 thoughts on “Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Mobii Trike

  1. Jeff Schneider says:

    I had the same thought you did about lights. If this is really supposed to be a useful vehicle, you have to be able to use it after dark/before sunrise. On the positive side, the little ones would really be well protected from the elements in the Mobii. All in all, I think it’s very cool.

  2. Cosmo says:

    How neat that you got to take this for a ride! I only got to take the Nihola for a short ride but it was really fun. I had the same thought about its handlebars as you did for this Mobii. I am not mad about either of the colors but I like the lower step through frame. As a newer cyclist who still has the wobbles when I ride I can say that I felt much more secure knowing I wasn’t going to topple over than I do on our bakfiets. I still haven’t been brave enough to ride that with Miss S in it on city streets.

  3. Anne Hawley says:

    That’s a very good looking vehicle! But I agree with you about the geometry–it does seem to call out for a more swept-back handlebar stem.

    Thanks for the review. What a cool deal that you got to try it out!

  4. Giffen says:

    A $4000 dollar bike without generator lights? Velorbis, you really need to get your act together. The steep seat tube angle doesn’t help either. *fingerwag*

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Where would you put the generator hub? If you could even put a generator on one of the front wheels, the friction would cause it to spin slower/harder than the other front hub.

      • Haha – a dynamo hub doesn’t produce enough friction to ever feel it, certainly not sense a pulling to one side on a trike. We fit dynamo hubs to one front wheel of some trikes and it works just fine.

        But nobody makes a dynamo hub for single-sided axle mounting anyway so that’s a non-issue on this trike. This bike would have to have a tire dynamo on the rear wheel but it doesn’t even have the little mounting tab.

  5. You write the best, most neutral and user-centered reviews in cyberspace. Aside from the weird rider ergonomics, lack of covered chain and no lighting (and no place for a dynamo) the Mobii is a good looking trike.

    The fine people over at Nihola (whom I know but haven’t recently done business with) will probably be annoyed that I wrote a single positive word about a Velorbis bike. There is apparently some serious animosity between these two Copenhagen firms as a result of what Nihola see as an imitation of their formerly rather unique trike. I haven’t looked at the Mobii carefully enough to have a real opinion on the matter. They do look fairly similar but I suspect the steering mechanism is quite different.

    Rumour has it that there’s a similar situation between Velorbis and Pashley, the implication being that the former has copied the frames of the latter. Again it’s not my business but a little gossip and intrigue can be fun.

    • Almost forgot: I once heard through the grapevine that Velorbis-Retrovelo relations are also dry ice cold.

    • Regarding Velorbis and Pashley: I won’t comment on whether Velorbis copied Pashley’s design, intentionally or not. But what they did do at some point was put a vicious (and untrue) statement against Pashley on their website. When I saw it, and then checked the facts of the story, I was dismayed at Velorbis’s behaviour. The statement has since been removed, but I remain skeptical about their business practices.

    • dottie says:

      Why, thank you!

      Interesting how small the beautiful-city-bike manufacturing world is.

  6. Frits says:

    HenryinAmsterdam had an opinion back in May 2008:

    http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2008/05/18/nihola-on-its-nose/

    The only other trike bakfiets with steering front wheels I know beside the Nihola is the Dutch Feetz, on this website http://www.feetz.nl. They say it rides like a bicycle but as you never see them it’s hard to tell (I live in Assen where I have so far only seen two bakfiets.nl bikes either; not the right territory obviously). They are sold in the USA by http://www.emotors.biz in CA. And again no provisions for lights.

    • Yep, I had (and still have) opinions about the Nihola and many other bikes, but I’ve never seen a Mobii… and thus have no opinion about it. ;-)

      I’ve ridden the Feetz too, though it’s not really a bakfiets. Maybe I’d call it a “leaning transport bike with three wheels.” It does indeed ride like a (slow) bicycle, it falls over like a bicycle, and doesn’t carry more than a bicycle. The big trick of the Feetz is that it folds into a big pram/shopping cart thing. I’ve only ever spotted a couple Feetz’s in Amsterdam. Bakfiets.nl bikes are everywhere though – probably close to 10,000 in the city now.

  7. E A says:

    Nice bike. I’d still like to find a way to safely take my kitties for a bike ride. I’m sure they’d go nuts in that front cargo area of this trike. ;-)

    I’d maybe raise the bars up a bit to ease the reach.

    Have you tested any of the trikes at DeFietsfabriek (like this one – http://www.defietsfabriek-usa.com/bikes/bakfiets)?

  8. Dwayne says:

    You do look stooped over, leaning forward to reach the handlebars, especially in the picture where you’re turning. Just for perspective, may I ask how tall you are?

  9. The trike looks interesting, and I wonder how it compares to MamaVee’s Sorte Jenhurst. From her comments, I get the impression that perhaps the Mobii is a bit faster and more maneuverable than the Sorte, but of course we can’t know for sure without a direct comparison.

    If I were to get a cargo bike – either for art supplies or kids – it would definitely be a trike, because I am not the best balanced person in the world. I like it that the design allows you to keep your legs so straight and still be able to stop without having to jump off the saddle.

    • Mamavee says:

      I would love a direct comparison myself!! And I love having a trike for all the reasons you said. I love stopping with both feet on pedals.It’s why the Xtra didn’t work so well for me. I had to keep the seat way to low so I could put feet down and keep kids from hitting the ground.

    • Trisha says:

      Yes, that is what is appealing to me about trikes, too. Even though on a regular bike I think my balance is quite good, I wasn’t able to pedal the Bakfiets. I am not sure if that was due to my (lack of) height or the weight of the box or the snowy streets — but I like the idea of cargo loading without worrying about kickstands, and the load already being balanced when I get on the bike. Although, if Dot can’t reach the bars on the Mobii there is no hope for me!

  10. Val says:

    Henry: Indeed, though the styling of the Mobii is similar to the Nihola, if you look closely, you can see that it steers on a single pivot centered under the cargo area (Christiana & old school Dutch Bakfietsen), while the Nihola uses true Ackermann steering, with the front wheels articualting independently. Too bad, but you’re right, highly amusing about the intercorporate realtions. Thanks for the insider view.

  11. Lorenza says:

    Beautiful!! After having been to Copenhagen I am in awe of the Nihola though… if and when one day I’ll have kids, I may seriously going to invest in one since we have no car (and don’t intend to purchase one since we live in a great city with no hills!)… although I’ll have lots of fun in trying them all ;) xxx

  12. Scott says:

    That thing is super sweet. I must stop in for a test drive.

    I don’t think the chain guard would be a problem. It looks like the SKS Chainboard, which I know holds up well in the Chicago winter. But no lights . . . maybe you could put a battery light on the handlebars so it shines over the cargo space?

  13. I saw these trikes all over Holland.

    Alas, we’re not in Amsterdam over here. I’d think twice before venturing into American urban traffic with an infant in one of these. Much as we deplore cars, they do provide a considerably safer environment for children than any trike.

    Infrastructure first, then babies on board…

  14. Chris R says:

    The Mobi looks fantastic. I live down the street from Copenhagen Cyclery and need to take it for a ride. Any idea how much it weighs? Safe to assume it weighs more than a bakfiets due to its 3 wheels?

    I don’t see the lack of dynamo light as a big deal. I’ve got one on my Azor (from Dutch Bike Chicago) and it’s not very bright. I’m considering getting a brighter, blinking, battery powered light for increased safety.

  15. Mamavee says:

    OMG. OMG. I almost didn’t want to read this. In fact I kind of just skimmed it b/c I didn’t want it to be too good. I sort of covet this bike. Orange/yellow is my favorite color to add to the lust. And I saw on the Velorbis site that it can come MOTORIZED. My only saving grace for not thinking about it was that I couldn’t get it here int he US. However now I guess one can.

    On first glance though- I like mine better. I saw your point on Geometry and you look like you are leaning forward a lot. The low bar is driving me crazy looks wise also. I like how mine looks ( except a seat and orange and a door would make it all the better) and my geometry makes me very upright and comfortable. I’m short too and Danes from my stereotype are not so I appreciate that it fits me well as well as B or my taller neighbor who rode it pretty fine…

    Mine has rear steering which is wonky at first but in a way it is very stable. I do have to turn fast to pop a wheelie.

    man, why can’t I be younger and JUST now be having kids so I could have waited for right now to get the Mobii? Or at least try it. I guess I need to come visit.

  16. Karen says:

    I don’t have children but we do have dogs and I like the trike, especially the bright orange. I can see carrying our dogs in this to a picnic or downtown to a dog-friendly, outdoor cafe. I wonder how the trike manuveurs hills? The trike would be ideal for hauling groceries but Flagstaff is a bit hilly.

  17. Mamavee says:

    For the record, the sorte doesn’t have dynamo lights either. It has a spot for them to be on either side of the box. It is a bummer to not have the lights but I don’t go out at night with it often although perhaps in the summer I might stay out past sunset but so far it hasn’t happened.

    I’ve also heard that Velorbis isn’t the nicest company around the block…

  18. [...] the rest here:  Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Mobii Trike « Let's Go Ride a Bike By pivot | category: pivot, pivot bikes | tags: cargo, centered-under, dutch, [...]

  19. [...] the rest here:  Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Mobii Trike « Let's Go Ride a Bike By pivot | category: pivot, pivot bikes | tags: cargo, centered-under, dutch, [...]

  20. Aaron says:

    Out of curiosity, what’s wrong with a trailer? It’s cheap, it’s visible and safe, and — best of all — it’s easily detachable when you don’t need it. For example, instead of pulling a regular bicycle out of the hedges after dropping off your imaginary child, you could simply detach a hypothetical trailer (that carried the imaginary child) and lock it up at the school, allowing you to finish your commute in standard mode.

    • Mamavee says:

      as someone who tired a trailer and now has a trike I’ll say why I prefer a trike to a trailer.

      1. I am a new rider and I found the trailer to be hard to pull. I have hills and I got a lot of back pull from the trailer.

      2. My brakes seemed to suck a bit when going downhill with trailer behind me.

      3. as a new rider I like to take the sidewalk at some cross walks and the trailer and bike was unmanuverable. I got stuck behind a pole and the trailer almost pulled me back into traiffic. I was off the bike and walking it across the street.

      4. My kids are 6 and 3. There is no way my 6 year old would ride in the trailer. Too tight. Too squishy. Too dirty as it’s hard to clean out leaves and debrie. She happily rides in it and I’ve had 7 year olds ride in it as well. I’ve also had up to four kids in the Trike.

      Yes it is a bit of a bear to ride at times and yes I personally wouldn’t want to go far with it esp without kids in it. But it for me was 100 times better than a trailer. I realize that I may be a clumsy new rider and trailers work for a lot of people very well. But for me, it was so worth the crazy $ to have it.

  21. Jane says:

    I have lights on my Mobii; they sit on the front wheels and work just fine. They were extras. I’m also a pro now at the steering, it just takes a bit of adjustment getting used to 3 wheels, but it certainly isn’t rocket science. The child seats in the Mobii are really comfy – take if from my kids. I found this cool pic – http://bike-one-bicycles.com/show_product_pic.asp?id_pic=2009113018858392

  22. Tad Salyards says:

    Good review. The geometry looks all wrong for somebody my size. You’re leaning forward quite a bit and my guess is that I’m quite a bit taller than you. 4k seems outlandish as well. I’m in the market for a Bakfiet next year and think I’ll steer clear of the Velorbis trike and go with a Workcycle product.

  23. Kendra says:

    I have noticed an earlier blog entry has been deleted. Is this blog censored?

  24. Trisha says:

    Our blog comments are moderated. We reserve the right to delete or edit comments. Longtime readers know that this is done sparingly (literally one comment in 1,000) and that we welcome healthy debate and honest dialogue. That said, any comment that we deem offensive or is posted under false pretenses is likely to get the ax.

  25. tom says:

    http://www.terracycle.com/CargoMonster.htm

    This trike + xtracycle combo looks to be more stable ..and carry at least 100 lbs.

    I think the trike from the link is from http://www.catrike.com

  26. Elle says:

    Nobody does three-wheelers like those Danes!

  27. Ian says:

    I don’t think the lack of dynamo lighting is a real problem. My Pashley Paramount didn’t come with lights and I have fitted front and rear Cateye LED lights. The brochure says they will last 120 hours on one set of batteries, so will easily get me through winter and probably next winter as well. The front LED light is so powerful it must be way better than a dynamo powered standard lamp……. only cost me about $50 in total for the LED’s and they are so bright, I love’em.

  28. Xander says:

    Cyclecouture is now carrying Velorbis for Toronto.. i cant wait to take my kids in to test ride the trike with passengers in it.

    your review has been very helpful..

    Cheers

  29. … [Trackback]…

    [...] Read More here: letsgorideabike.com/blog/2009/12/beautiful-bicycles-velorbis-mobii-trike/ [...]…

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