Last night, as I set off for an off-road ride through Alice Holt Forest, I was distracted by an unusual-looking wheeled contraption in the corner of a Forestry Commission car park. Intrigued, I rolled over to investigate.
What I saw fascinated me. I found a vehicle the size of a small car, with three bicycle wheels. It had a sturdy roof and a cockpit enclosing a recumbent seat within flexible transparent walls. The forward-facing pedals were connected via several chains and mechanisms to a rear wheel that seemed to feature suspension and electrical assistance. Attached to the rear of the bodywork was a further baffling assembly of wheels and cranks.
As I examined this impressive machine, a figure emerged from a folded-down seating area at the front of the vehicle. The man introduced himself as Nick Meadows, and proceeded to proudly show me around his creation – the Eco-Trike.
Nick eagerly showed me the TIG-welded chassis, the electrically assisted drive mechanism and the solar panels covering the roof. He explained how a bed could be folded down from the ceiling and how the Eco-Trike could hold enough water, food and power to enable several days of self-sufficiency.
I was ushered towards the back of the vehicle, where I received an explanation of the assembly strapped to the roof. Three windmill-style sails could be attached to a bike wheel, which then drives a marine alternator as a supplement to the power provided by the solar panels and human exertion. A quick blast from the Eco-Trike’s sound system demonstrated capabilities of the impressive electrical system.
It seems Nick likes an adventure. He told me of his love of travel and how, after spending a year building the Eco-Trike, he intends to ride to Dover and onward through Europe. His ultimate goal? Gambia in Africa.
I’m no stranger to peculiar bike-powered assemblies (I’ve seen bicycle sound systems and pedal-powered garden machinery) but I’ve rarely seen anything as elaborate, as intensively engineered and as passionately built as Nick’s Eco-Trike. I wish him all the best with his travels.
Nick’s website is called The Other Way, where he has more information about the Eco-Trike and his travel plans.