Arrow adventures

Only when Ajatar 2 was finished I found out it is too small for an adult. Also it is a bit too clumsy for daily commuting. Hmm…something had to be done.


At March 2011 I started exploring different ways to design a velomobile for my needs, such as capability to transport some luggage and far lighter than Ajatar 2. I went through different options from fourwheeled constructions to threewheeled models, with 2 wheels at front or back, and then studied the options to have turning wheel at front or back.

I ended up with a basic metal construction that looked very much like an arrow. The rear part was made from an old KMX swingarm.

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But how to create a steering mechanism? Would the system from a kart work? Luckily I found an affordable set of the essential parts from an online shop and tried. Yep, this works.


The mechanisms were built using recycled bike parts. A friend of mine helped with the welding (I can’t do any of it). Front 16″ wheels are from KMX. The wooden control stick was created from a willow in my garden. The short (152mm) pedals were provided by Pyörätohtori.

After a couple of day of building I was able to make the first test rides.

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The support frame

The next target was to create the plywood body. I’m not a designer but I can design through trial and error, typically ending up with something that works. I started figuring out the possibilities that the arrow construction provided.

First I made the rough plywood shapes based on a simplistic idea. The I spent couple of hours removing the excess wood trying to dig out some smoothier forms.

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On the support frame I added the plywood body, several rounds of oil paint (from Uula) and boat varnish. Well, now it started to look something:

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Some assembling, tuning, wooden decorations etc. And ready for turning the heads. The text Nuoli on the left side is finnish and means arrow.

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(No intel) Inside

The first version had a wooden control stick. But this had to be replaced with a metallic one, since the wooden was not stiff enough. The rear light system was ordered all the way from Hong Kong (~5$).

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Adventure 1: Visiting a fair

Soon after the project was completed I visited a subcontracting fair at Tampere, Finland. I used Nuoli / Arrow for guerrilla marketing of a 3D printing event. A group of chinese businessmen came to chat and wanted to drive. And asked if I could sell them couple of hundreds of these. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. But I enjoyed their smiles!

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Adventure 2: e-Arrow

I wasn’t fully happy with the power required to pedal. I added a standard e-bike rear wheel and battery from Greencycle. The driving experience was now totally different and far more enjoyable. The battery was nicely hidden inside the body.

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Adventure 3: Theft

During the summer I typically drove Arrow to my work and locked it properly with a cable lock. Unfortunately I was too lazy to remove the battery and the key. One day my son called me to the office and asked if I knew where Arrow is?  He had seen it just few seconds ago rolling in our neighborhoods. I asked him to follow it with bike, ran out and found a broken lock and empty parking lot. Somebody had stolen it!

Next I found out myself and my colleague chasing Arrow and the gang of boys who had decided to have some fun. Eventually, we got them. But the harm was already done. Broken parts and broken steering system. Not to mention the body.

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After repair and rebuilding, Arrow is now back on the road. Smile and say hello when you meet us! And please stop to assist if I have problems due to drained battery (or any mechanical failure).


Ajatar 2 – Sleeping beauty back on the road


Some years ago I was told that a wreck of a velomobile (”Kinneri” in finnish) was to be thrown away. I went to check this, not expecting too much. What I found was a sleeping beauty (and not a beast). I fell in love and rescued the lady to my garage.


She was built around 1950 somewhere in Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland. A boys’ magazine published the building instructions. Some tens of velomobiles were then built in barns and garages using innovative spare materials found in farms and recycled bike parts. Not many exist today.


I started a renovation project with my kids. We spent quite many evenings getting pieces apart, fixing, and trying to find acceptable materials and replacements. This was not a reconstruction operation by-the-book. A  conservator would be terrified by our methods. We just wanted to fix this and enjoy rides. A friend (also a velomobile enthusiast) supported us to fix the steering mechanism.

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We had a deadline.  A gathering of old vehicles was taking place in one Saturday in June (Mobilia, Kangasala) and we wanted to drive in to the show. We were ready night before with fresh paint. She got name ”Ajatar 2”.

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Ajatar 2 has had many great adventures. Due to the dimensions inside the ”cabin” an adult can’t drive her. Hence the velomobile is for kids only. And that is good.

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Ajatar – Amphibio

Long time ago, I found a true story in (Jokaisen Pojan Kirja by Sulo Karpio) about two young men who built an amphibio velomobile and rode from Finland to Sweden, hopping from island to island through Åland islands.


The story was challenging enough and of course I wanted to created something similar, since I lived just by the sea in the city of Vasa, Finland. I had no experience on building anything like this and no tools but hammer, knife, saw. Eventually I managed to complete the project and had several rewarding moments on the road and on the sea.

I chose name Ajatar for the velomobile. In Finnish folklore, Ajatar is a spirit known as ”Devil of the Woods”. ”Aja” is also Finnish word for driving. In this case ”devil” is a good description for the noise that Ajatar created on the road.

Current location of Ajatar is not known. She is probably in the heaven of velomobiles.


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