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Sturen

Faster than you think.


For first time riders the WAW's joystick steering may appear very sensitive. It's important to realise that the obtained speed is probably much higher than one's accustomed to as a cyclist, and higher than perceived due to the wind protection. Compared to automobiles, the predominance of body mass over vehicle mass means a velomobile has to be designed and ridden entirely different.

We recommend you take a few weeks' time to get acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of a 'multi-track ultralight vehicle' like the WAW, before going flat out.

Riding a bicycle is a good metaphor here: consciously pulling the handlebars may cause a crash. One rather has to think the bike towards the intended direction. By the time we obtain decent speeds with a bicycle we have incorporated a subconscious sense of balance and steering.  This is true for the WAW as well: concentrate on the direction you want to go, not on the joysticks, and allow your motor memory to absorb the routine.

I'll elaborate on some of the principles of steering further on.

Weight distribution.


The position of the rider is designed to obtain an optimal weight distribution over the three wheels. This is the reason why the pedals' position is adjustable instead of the seat (to some expense of adjustability alas).

The velomobile's tendency to oversteer (tail breaking out) or understeer is greatly influenced by the weight distribution. The rider's belly button is roughly the centre of gravity of both rider and WAW. It's intelligent to distribute the weight of whatever you carry evenly around this point. This is achieved easily by distributing your luggage on both sides of and under the seat. The closer to the front wheels and the lower, the better.

Cornering.

The WAW is a very stable machine in terms of streamlined hpv's. The wheel camber (inclination of the front wheels) allows us to combine a narrow wind profile with a broad track width. However some caution is required: it's not as obvious as driving a four wheeler. Use your common sense.

Depending on the centripetal force (= lateral acceleration = side force) the cornering is generating, it may happen that:
a) the vehicle slides sideways. This happens if the adherence of the tyres can't match the lateral acceleration. Usually a lot of fun but some wisdom is required.
b) when the resulting force vector (lateral acceleration plus gravity) points from the center of gravity (CG) to a line between the rear wheel and the outer front wheel, the inner wheel goes up. At that moment the velomobile becomes 'dynamically unstable' and behaves like a bicycle. This needn't be a problem as long as you don't panic. Some recommend to find a parking lot and ride around in circles increasingly fast to get a feel of the lateral acceleration required to lift a wheel.
c) even more side force will flip the velomobile. This is of course rather disconcerting and to be avoided at all cost.

Leaning.

As your body weight is several times greater that the WAW's, it's a pretty big factor in the general weight distribution - never consider yourself dead weight. Even within the limited space of a WAW, active leaning of the body to the inside of the turn moves the CG inward and improves stability considerably.
The steering sticks are a help to position yourself in space, but since we try to keep them as light as possible and to avoid unwanted steering input, we recommend using your own lumbar muscles to lean inward. You can use your feet (with clipless pedals, preferrably) and butt as pivots.

Wind.


The WAW is designed to minimize the impact of side wind. Wind interference is avoided by designing the CP (center of wind pressure) coincident with the CG. This appears to work rather well.

A little note on Lift: this is a common problem on many contemporary ultralight vehicles. The rounded nose of some creates a wing effect which results in wind gusts lifting up the vehicle, with scratching of velos and gnashing/loss of teeth to suit. The longitudinal 'dent' in the nose of the WAW isn't there for improved vision only: it acts litteraly as a 'spoiler' of side winds to avoid lift.

Again, use your sensible judgement.
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