Innovative Vehicles to Reduce your Carbon Footprint While Exercising: HP Velotechnik Trikes!

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The enthusiasm for innovative bicycle technology brought HP Velotechnik founders Paul Hollants and Daniel Pulvermüller together early on. With their velomobile, the students from the greater Frankfurt area became national winners in the JUTEC competition of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) in 1992. With the fully enclosed cabin tricycle, they laid the basis for a development from a garage to one of the most innovative bicycle manufacturers in Germany.

In the early days, after the company was founded in 1993, they specialised in building classic single-track recumbents. The Scorpion, the first recumbent trike, was added for the 2006 season. The philosophy behind this is: two wheels in front for steering, one in the back for acceleration. In 2012, the first version of the S-Pedelec was developed on this platform as the top model of the Scorpion family. That vehicle provides pedal assistance up to a speed of 45 kilometers per hour. With this, HP Velotechnik made the step from bicycle producer to motor vehicle manufacturer.

The S-Pedelecs are individually tested by TÜV (the German technical standards authority) and incorporate technology from the automotive industry that extends far beyond the bicycle. For example, the chassis uses front wheels with suspension based on the principles of the MacPherson system. The result, in 2012, HP Velotechnik received one of the most coveted awards in the bicycle industry, the Eurobike Award, for the Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec and the following year for the Scorpion fs 26 Enduro full-suspension mountain trike.

The general feature of all recumbent bikes is that they combine unique riding fun with a great panoramic view. Another plus is the aerodynamic advantages. For example, all speed records of bicycles are held by recumbents. HP Velotechnik’s travelling, touring and everyday bicycles also have the advantages of streamlined speedsters in their genes. The result is a sporty, easy-to-handle vehicle with an ergonomically optimized seating position.

Since the beginning, the bikes have been assembled in Kriftel with enormous vertical integration. An important preliminary component are the frames welded in Taiwan. After quality control in the Hessian recumbent manufacture, they are sent to a powder coating company in the region for a rock solid, environment-friendly veneer. Afterwards, the bikes are assembled individually according to the customer’s wishes. HP Velotechnik’s modular system offers over one hundred thousand configuration options for each model!

This high degree of design flexibility unfolds its full potential in what is now the megatrend in bicycle construction, the electric motor for pedal assistance. Today, far more than half of the tricycles leave the assembly hall motorized. The trikes exploit several design-related advantages.

– They convert their aerodynamic advantages directly into more range. 

– The low center of gravity improves driving characteristics and increases safety. 

– The design is open for a wide variety of drive units. Shimano’s Steps system attaches directly to the bottom bracket at the front of the front boom. It can be combined with a fully automatic hub gear, for example. 

– If the rear wheel hub motor from neodrives is installed instead, the boom is ideally suited for the placement of a gearbox. 

Special purpose bike construction traditionally relies on a very high degree of in-house development. This also applies to components. Apart from standard elements such as brakes, gearing or lighting, basically every part of a recumbent has to be specially designed. Whether handlebars, luggage racks or comfort accessories, the design drawings originate in Kriftel. Even special electrical developments such as the first turn indicator for the tricycle that meets the customs and regulations of German Road traffic have been realized by the engineers from Kriftel. But the art of design is most impressive in the seat. It is, so to speak, the business card of a recumbent. The ErgoMesh Premium mesh seat presented in 2021 sets new standards in terms of flexibility, ergonomics, user-friendliness, and most important, comfort.

A key feature of most of HP Velotechnik’s models is that they can be folded to very compact dimensions for easy transport. HP Velotechnik has patented the folding hinge design on the Scorpion and the folding process on the Gekko. Folding plays a central role in the Gekko series in particular: these trikes can be made compact in less than ten seconds – without the use of tools. This innovation also won a Eurobike Award.

In addition to its orientation as a motor vehicle manufacturer, HP Velotechnik has also been an official medical product manufacturer since 2015. The idea behind the bikes as a vehicle for people with disabilities with a corporate mission of “bicycle mobility for all”! This is often not about serious disabilities. Many people are plagued by “everyday handicaps” such as back problems, muscle weakness or dizziness. For them, conventional upright bikes are not (or no longer) an option. With the stable trikes, however, they can remain mobile on a bicycle. The Scorpion plus 20, which is also optimized for seniors with its very easy access, also received a Eurobike Award in 2015. 

The highlight of the medical and accessability development so far is the Gekko fxs, which is classified as a medical device. This “trike that grows with you” for children (1.15 – 1.80 meters tall) is equipped with various special developments and received a medical aid number (Hilfsmittelnummer) in 2016 after intensive testing by the German National Association of Health Insurance Funds. The engineers are currently developing a hand cycle drive. This also uses the Scorpion and Gekko trikes as a platform. With this special construction, even people with severe handicaps such as paralysis of the legs should be able to participate in modern mobility in the foreseeable future.

As the established market leader in Europe, HP Velotechnik manufactures about 2,000 recumbent bicycles per year in 15 product lines on 2,400 square meters with 45 employees in the factory in Kriftel. The products are sold and delivered through a network of specialized dealers selected based on their deep recumbent and Pedelec product knowledge. Given the increasing demand, signs are pointing to continued growth. At the beginning, the recumbents were mostly sold in Germany. Today, an increasing share, recently more than 50 per cent, are sold abroad. The largest export market is the USA, but overseas customers also include Australia and the Far East.

In 2017, HP Velotechnik was presented the prestigious Hessian Export Prize for international sales excellence, which is awarded by the Hessian government together with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Crafts. Also in 2017, HP Velotechnik received the German Citizen Award as a “Committed Company”. The award, which ultimately goes back to an initiative of the German Bundestag, recognizes commitment to volunteerism. With the Taunus Entrepreneur Award 2019, the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW in the Hochtaunus/Main-Taunus district) honored the “outstanding entrepreneurial achievements” of HP Velotechnik. And shortly before the turn of the year to 2020, the SPD(German Social Democratic Party) honored the design and manufacturing process for the “Innovative Mobility” of the vehicles with the AGS Award for Innovation. This honor is presented by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Selbstständigen (AGS, Association of the Self-Employed) in the SPD.

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