In 2015, we got to know Swedish electric cargo bike outfit Velove and its large, muscular Armadillo quadricycle (quike?). A year later, Velove is adding a fabric body to the Armadillo, creating a more versatile, all-weather electric-assist cycle capable of muling passengers, packages, tools, furniture and other large cargo around city and country. As it did with the original Armadillo, it's testing a fleet of prototypes around its home city of Gothenburg, Sweden before moving ahead with production.
New updates to the original Armadillo are twofold: an available passenger module that accommodates a single adult passenger behind the driver, turning cargo bike into people-hauler, and a PU-coated polyester body that protects the driver in either passenger or cargo configuration. The canopy also protects the passenger, when the bike is set up that way.
With the growing interest and energy surrounding electric mobility solutions, lines are blurring. The new fabric-bodied Armadillo pushes the electric bike ever closer to small electric car. With an electric drive that requires pedaling to activate the 250-watt motor, a lightweight fabric body in place of the hard bodywork of a traditional motor vehicle and a footprint purpose-designed for bike paths, the Armadillo is still an electric bike (technically, quadricycle) ... with cargo/people-hauling and weather-fighting capabilities you wouldn't expect from most other bikes.
The city of Gothenburg sees potential in cutting down motor vehicle congestion, noise and pollution by replacing short car rides with electric bike rides. With help from the private sector and academia, the city is hosting the Elmob project, which aims to develop and test electric shared-mobility solutions.
The new polyester body makes the Armadillo more of a practical, all-weather shared mobility solution for official city business, offering riders protection from wind, rain and snow. The body's shape was inspired by a boat and helps improve aerodynamic performance, according to Velove. The company tells us that the fabric is fixed semi-permanently and not designed for quick, "convertible style" conversion to open-air configuration, though it is possible to remove it.
Underneath the fabric is the standard Armadillo platform with aluminum frame, 250-watt Bafang Max electric-assist drive, 0.55 kWh battery, 14-gear Rohloff Speedhub and double wishbone suspension at the 20-in wheels.
Ten of the new Armadillos are participating in the Elmob project, and Velove says that they'll be used by the likes of city couriers, janitors and environmental inspectors. Each participating Armadillo is built in one of two configurations: the cargo version with attachable 35 cu ft (1 cu m) lockable cargo box and weather-protected driver area, and the new passenger version with full fabric body protecting both driver and passenger.
The test Armadillos are pre-production models, and Armadillo is still finalizing the design. It plans to get the new products to market later this year or early next year, and since it sells equipment in modular fashion, current Armadillo owners will be able to add the passenger section and polyester body to their existing quad-bikes. Since we last looked at the Armadillo, Velove launched the standard (open) Armadillo quadricycle and prices start at €7,800 (approx. US$8,400) before VAT.
The video below shows the all-weather Armadillo in action in and around the recent Copenhagen Bike Show.