Rail The Schweeb: Personal Pedal Power Pod

Published on July 16th, 2009 | by Christopher DeMorro

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The Schweeb: Personal Pedal Power Pod

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I hate traffic. To me, there are few things worse in the world than having to sit idling in traffic, moving at an inch an hour, all because some dimwit blew out a tire. It is part of the reason I consider myself a country boy at heart. At least to me, the city is a nice place to visit, but I could never live there.

But a new, novel idea involving pedals and a monorail system has the potential not only to eliminate traffic, but emissions and accidents as well. Called simply The Schweeb, this self-enclosed, pedal-powered personal pod is already in use at an amusement park in New Zealand. Geoffrey Barnett and his team of designers see the Schweeb not only as a vehicle of amusement, but as a replacement for personal motor vehicles in traffic congested cities.

The whole idea is so simple, it is a wonder no one has thought of it already. The Schweeb uses a monorail system to guide users along a pre-determined path, and each pod is powered by the rider. Now as I said before, I am no cyclist, and I wouldn’t want to have to cycle my way 30 miles over the hills and through the woods to get to work. But according to The Schweebs website, it takes only half the energy of a regular bike and 1/3 the energy of a mountain bike to pedal, since it is enclosed and there isn’t the rolling resistance of the tires to compensate for.

Further more, Schweebs can be linked together for less air resistance, and more pedal power. Imagine a family trip across town where everybody had their own pod, with their own music, and their own personal space? Never again would parents be burdened with the infamous “He/she is on my side of the car!” argument.

Right now, the Schweeb exists as a race track park, where for $45 per person you get a three lap, 600 meter race. The world record right now for the 600 meter race is 57.1 seconds. Ok, another attempt at math coming, and I know I get it wrong most of the time, but like I said…not my forte. Correct me if I’m wrong! That seems to work out to about a 100 meters in less than ten seconds racing at full tilt, 10 meters a second or so. The Schweeb brochure claims the pod can easily attain speeds of 50 kph, which is about 31 mph or so. They also claim that the average speed in London of a car is just 8 mph, the same speed it was a 100 years ago in 1908. If you watch the video, you can see that these things cruise, and take up a lot less space than the average automobile. Looks like fun!

Pedal power also means zero emissions. None. Nada. No engine, no fuel, period. Saving the environment and money, what more could you want? I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to see these become more comfortable and personalized, too. All that pedaling could probably produce enough energy to power an iPod and maybe even an air conditioner…I wouldn’t want to be stuck in one of those in a heat wave.

It doesn’t look too terribly comfortable right now, but that is something that could certainly change. That is the only negative I can think of, so long as you aren’t adverse to some physical exertion. Sure, it would require a whole new infrastructure, and some kind of turning/switching mechanism so everybody doesn’t end up at the same place. Monorails have been around for decades however, so there isn’t any vaporware technology to take into account.

It also might help with America’s bulging obesity problem at the same time. Wouldn’t that be nice? I could still have my fast food burger, and by the time I got home I could have burned off most of the greasy, fatty goodness. Extra large, please!

I am a firm believer that we need simple solutions to the complicated problems the world now faces, and the Schweeb seems to be just that. Hopefully the rest of you see it the same way.

Source: Treehugger | Schweeb


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    I love it!

    All the advantages: the fitness, the zero carbon transportation –while solving all the huge disadvantages of biking: cars mowing you down AND/OR you falling off and breaking extremities

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    I love it!

    All the advantages: the fitness, the zero carbon transportation –while solving all the huge disadvantages of biking: cars mowing you down AND/OR you falling off and breaking extremities

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    Plus, I forgot, solves the other disadvantage of biking because this keeps out the rain!

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    Plus, I forgot, solves the other disadvantage of biking because this keeps out the rain!

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    Plus, I forgot, solves the other disadvantage of biking because this keeps out the rain!

  • Walter G Connor Jr

    First, it looks rather warm inside. Second, you need a way to pull over or pass someone. Third, a normal bicycle with a full body fairing on the street will perform as well at a fraction of the cost. Great idea for an amusement park.

  • Walter G Connor Jr

    First, it looks rather warm inside. Second, you need a way to pull over or pass someone. Third, a normal bicycle with a full body fairing on the street will perform as well at a fraction of the cost. Great idea for an amusement park.

  • David Nelson

    The opening argument that this will eliminate traffic seems flawed to me. If it’s a monorail, it’s impossible to have two people going in parallel, which means you can only go as fast as the slowest person. In addition, how would you get on and off? With people stopping and starting all the time, traffic seems like it would be worse than ever. This is great for an amusement park, but has serious flaws as a method of mass transportation.

  • David Nelson

    The opening argument that this will eliminate traffic seems flawed to me. If it’s a monorail, it’s impossible to have two people going in parallel, which means you can only go as fast as the slowest person. In addition, how would you get on and off? With people stopping and starting all the time, traffic seems like it would be worse than ever. This is great for an amusement park, but has serious flaws as a method of mass transportation.

  • David Nelson

    The opening argument that this will eliminate traffic seems flawed to me. If it’s a monorail, it’s impossible to have two people going in parallel, which means you can only go as fast as the slowest person. In addition, how would you get on and off? With people stopping and starting all the time, traffic seems like it would be worse than ever. This is great for an amusement park, but has serious flaws as a method of mass transportation.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    Not all of us like riding around in the elements in skin-tight suits. I do not look good in skin-tight anything.

  • brian z

    Why is someone a “dimwit” for a flat tire?

  • brian z

    Why is someone a “dimwit” for a flat tire?

  • brian z

    Why is someone a “dimwit” for a flat tire?

  • Brian Z

    Why is someone a “dimwit”, as stated in the opening paragraph, because of a flat tire? It just seems a little mean spirited to me, is all.

  • Brian Z

    Why is someone a “dimwit”, as stated in the opening paragraph, because of a flat tire? It just seems a little mean spirited to me, is all.

  • Brian Z

    Why is someone a “dimwit”, as stated in the opening paragraph, because of a flat tire? It just seems a little mean spirited to me, is all.

  • ChuckL

    Let’s see. 600 meters at $45.00 is $75.00 per kilometer. The record speed is just over 10M/sec or 35 Km/Hr. That’s a trained athlete.

    I am sure that this competition event is making money for its owner, but I really don’t see it as a means of even local transportation. On the other hand, though, it is safe because it simply will NOT be used.

  • ChuckL

    Let’s see. 600 meters at $45.00 is $75.00 per kilometer. The record speed is just over 10M/sec or 35 Km/Hr. That’s a trained athlete.

    I am sure that this competition event is making money for its owner, but I really don’t see it as a means of even local transportation. On the other hand, though, it is safe because it simply will NOT be used.

  • ChuckL

    Let’s see. 600 meters at $45.00 is $75.00 per kilometer. The record speed is just over 10M/sec or 35 Km/Hr. That’s a trained athlete.

    I am sure that this competition event is making money for its owner, but I really don’t see it as a means of even local transportation. On the other hand, though, it is safe because it simply will NOT be used.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    In this writer’s opinion, there is no excuse for having a flat tire/blowout. Change your tires when they should be changed, make sure they have enough air in them…it is a very simple exercise most people ignore until it is too late.

    And why not for mass transit, at least in cities? I see it eliminating traffic because these things could be multi-tiered. You could also squeeze quite a few of these side by side down a main avenue, perhaps have one tier going one way, and another tier going the opposite, and crossing tiers on top of that.

    Yes, there would need to be some kind of changing mechanism, and I am no engineer, don’t ask me how that would work. But I don’t think it would be too terribly difficult to do either.

    And honestly, how fast does traffic move in the city? The few times I’ve been to New York, it always took me a good deal of time to travel a relatively short distance (45 minutes from the Javitts Center to Grand Central).

    But hey, just my opinion. I think this thing is awesome.

  • Cameron

    I think it’s a good idea but I’d change a few things.

    1) I’d get rid of the goofy self propelled part. Nobody wants to have to work to get around… make it run on electricity

    2) Everyone get’s their own ‘pod’? How terribly anti-social. Make sizeable cabin’s that move many people at once.

  • Cameron

    I think it’s a good idea but I’d change a few things.

    1) I’d get rid of the goofy self propelled part. Nobody wants to have to work to get around… make it run on electricity

    2) Everyone get’s their own ‘pod’? How terribly anti-social. Make sizeable cabin’s that move many people at once.

  • Steven

    I saw this on a show last night, if you’re the slow poke in front of the line, the person behind you can get behind you and make you go faster. Seems like a win win.

  • Steven

    I saw this on a show last night, if you’re the slow poke in front of the line, the person behind you can get behind you and make you go faster. Seems like a win win.

  • Steven

    I saw this on a show last night, if you’re the slow poke in front of the line, the person behind you can get behind you and make you go faster. Seems like a win win.

  • Joe Ludwig

    Cool idea! Needs help. Maybe pedal power with electric generation incorporated into the mechanism. Sawtooth shaped monorail with a long neg. grade to generate power and a short,steep incline where pedals would be needed for assist. Great idea. I love it too!

    The future is fast aproaching. Git-r-done!

  • Joe Ludwig

    Cool idea! Needs help. Maybe pedal power with electric generation incorporated into the mechanism. Sawtooth shaped monorail with a long neg. grade to generate power and a short,steep incline where pedals would be needed for assist. Great idea. I love it too!

    The future is fast aproaching. Git-r-done!

  • JohnG

    There’s a lot of engineering issues that would have to be addressed, but it would definitely be fun! How about some kind of spring mechanism on the front or back so that if you bump into someone it will give them a gentle push, speeding them up and relieving some of your frustration at their slowness at the same time.

  • JohnG

    There’s a lot of engineering issues that would have to be addressed, but it would definitely be fun! How about some kind of spring mechanism on the front or back so that if you bump into someone it will give them a gentle push, speeding them up and relieving some of your frustration at their slowness at the same time.

  • JohnG

    There’s a lot of engineering issues that would have to be addressed, but it would definitely be fun! How about some kind of spring mechanism on the front or back so that if you bump into someone it will give them a gentle push, speeding them up and relieving some of your frustration at their slowness at the same time.

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