THE owner of one of North Wales most eye-catching ‘vehicles’ has spoken of what it’s like to hit the road in the banana-like tricycle.

Graham Sparey-Taylor’s yellow Velomobile has been turning heads in the region since last August.

The human-powered vehicle is a three-wheeled recumbent cycle with an aerodynamic shell around it and is considered to be one of the most efficient vehicles available.

In recent months, many have taken to social media to share photos and videos of the unique vehicle from the Netherlands, of which only a few have been shipped to the UK.

Graham has lived in Trefnant since last July and has been spotted travelling through various parts of North Wales by several awe-struck passers-by.

The 52-year-old says that, despite the Coronavirus pandemic and its many lockdowns, he has been able to take his Velomobile out nearly every day.

Graham, who is a senior lecturer in automotive and motorsport engineering at the University of Wolverhampton’s Telford campus, said: “I aim to get out for an average of 10 miles per day. I bought this Quest XS Velomobile on August 30 last year and have completed 1700 miles now, with 750 of those miles coming since January 1.

“It was difficult during the County lockdowns working within the boundaries and yet trying to make some distance. I will often be seen from 6am on 10 mile training.”

Graham, who also helps run PPE HWB Wrecsam which has provided more than 100,000 free PPE shield, masks and aprons to key workers, built his first recumbent in 1996 and has since built 42 more for himself and other people.

Graham Sparey-Taylor and his Quest XS Velomobile.

Graham Sparey-Taylor and his Quest XS Velomobile.

Graham and his Velomobile.

He also owns four-wheel versions of the Velomobile known as ‘Quattro’s’.

Talking about the attention it garners when out and about, Graham added: “When I stop it certainly does attract a lot of attention and sometimes that worries me when cars come alongside and video record as we’re riding along.

“There has been a couple of occasions where a car has been tracking side by side causing a little bit of a danger and so I often will break at that point to come out the back of the car.

“I’ve only ever been stopped once by the police but this is unusual as my friends typically had stopped three to five times per year. The normal question I get is ‘This is going fast what is powering it?’.

“People can hardly believe it is pedal power. I think it’s a great inspiration to younger generations who can see alternatives forms of sustainable transport.

“The idea of jumping on a bicycle in the pouring rain is a bit off-putting but the idea of jumping into an enclosed shell and getting to work or school is perhaps more inviting.

“It’s worth noting that once you’re 14 years old, you are legally allowed to ride a pedal electric. Perhaps we should be educating our future generations in alternative transports and changing the road infrastructure to enable them to ride-drive safely.”

Explaining how the Velo works, Graham said: “You sit in a prune or laying position with the pedals ahead of you. it’s not always possible to get as much power down as with a conventional bikes you see on the road as you can’t stand on the pedals. all the power pushes through the legs into the back. a bit like doing squats.

“The key benefits are weather protection - when its minus 2 on Sunday morning and it’s still quite toasty and warm inside the shell it makes the difference. I don’t have to put a race jacket on.

“The biggest benefit is that the shell is shaped as an aerodynamic wing and cuts through the air like a teardrop so I can ride on the road At 100 Watts for the same speed a good road rider would have to put out twice as much power to go at 18 mph on a flat surface. The quest is geared for a comfortable flat speed of 34 mph although I’m not capable of maintaining that speed at the minute.

“The disadvantages are the weight up hills as it does weigh 27 kilos. I do also get a lot of comments about ‘Are you not worried that people can’t see you?’, so we have refitted the vehicle with extra lighting kits . expect to say though you will know when you see me on the road.

“I think people get quite surprised by just how fast it goes. A couple of times I’ve had cars pace me in town not realising that I’m often holding the speed limit quite nicely.

“I do take a presence on the road and control of the road into junctions which I know irritates some car drivers and for that I do apologise. But, for my safety and the steering dynamics of the vehicle, taking ownership into junction’s is important.

“My sincere apologies go to any of your readers who get caught behind me on a Hill climb. I tried to pick my routes so as to avoid such situations as possible. but we do live in this beautiful area of Wales which is bounded by Hills.”

When he’s not out and about on the Velomobile, as part of his day job, Graham delivers lectures on mechanics, electronics and computer programming within the automotive industry.

He has also worked with Guy Martin on the speed programme.