Paravelo: The world’s first flying bicycle

A new British design of bicycle called a paravelo that transforms into an easy-to-operate aircraft, requires no licence to ride or fly, soars to altitudes of 4,000ft and folds down small enough to store in the hallway goes on sale today.

xploreair paravelo flying biccyle

The paravelo:

• Takes off from any open space and reaches 4,000ft
• Travels at 15mph on land and 25mph in the air
• Folds small enough to store in house or office
• Features a built-in tent for flamping (fly/camping)
• Heralds a new era of practical and affordable personal flight

The launch of the paravelo flying bicycle coincides with the start of both Green Transport Week and Bike Week.

How does it work?

At the heart of the design is a folding bicycle that tows a lightweight trailer carrying a powerful fan; the entire assembly is small and light enough to be carried into a house or office.

Yannick Read tows flying bicycle

In order to fly, the bike docks with its trailer, a flexible wing is unfurled and an electric starter fires up the biofuel-powered 172cc motor.

The £10,000 paravelo has undergone successful test flights over the English countryside and promises to revolutionise the way we travel for work, leisure and adventure.

The paravelo can take-off from any piece of open ground clear of obstructions. Once airborne, it flies at 25mph for up to three hours at a time.

A built-in tent allows for longer journeys and makes possible flying and camping, or flamping as it has been dubbed.

paravelo tent for flamping

Why camp when you can flamp?

The launch of the paravelo coincides with the start of Green Transport Week 2013.

Director at the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), Andrew Davis, said: “For generations the car has been considered king, but for many more journeys it appears it now plays second fiddle to the flying bicycle.”

paravelo in tow mode

Who will buy it?

The purchase and running costs of the paravelo are less than those of a family car and no other aircraft offers such flexibility for city dwellers; the bicycle is small enough to be taken on the tube and the entire vehicle can carried up stairs to be stored in the hallway of a flat. As well as city commuters looking for weekend adventure, the flying bicycle has potential application as a highly autonomous and cost-effective aerial reconnaissance vehicle for forest rangers and border patrols etc.

paravelo flying bicycle in flight

Co-designer of the flying bicycle, John Foden, said: “The Wright brothers were former bicycle mechanics so there’s a real connection between cycling and the birth of powered flight that’s recaptured in the spirit of the paravelo.”

Co-designer of the flying bicycle, Yannick Read, said: “If you have a thirst for adventure, but are without a storage space or bank balance large enough for a helicopter, then the paravelo is for you.”

One flying bicycle – 4 ways to use it:

1. Ride
Use bicycle on its own as you would any other bike. Fold it up to store or carry on the bus, train or metro.
2. Tow
Hitch the air frame trailer to the bike and you are ready for expedition, flight and adventure. Designed to carry the powerful motor, the air frame trailer also houses the wing, fuel and additional supplies you will need.
3. Fly
The bike docks with its air frame trailer to form a para-trike configuration for optimum expedition autonomy. In this set up you can carry with you all the equipment you need to ride, fly and camp. Alternatively, detach the bike and air frame trailer and wear the powerful fan on your back for a foot launch. This set up gives improved performance in the air and allows for take-off in higher and changeable wind conditions. In most territories, no licence is required to fly in this configuration.
4. Flamp
Use the optional tent to go flamping (fly / camping) Ride your bike out of the city, fly, pitch your tent. Detach the bike to explore or fetch supplies.

24 Comments

Comments

  1. Peter Simmons

    Reply

    I imagine it will appeal to wind surfers, another radical sports toy, but the idea of thousands of these descending on a busy city at rush hour boggles the mind! Take it on a tube with today’s packed trains? Doubt it. There are likely to be some nasty accidents as people lose control; bird strikes, gusts of wind, too close to an airport.

  2. Angela

    Reply

    Brilliant! where can I buy one?

  3. Angela

    Reply

    Brilliant! where can I buy one?

  4. Andrew

    Reply

    no mention of how easy it is to land, quite important aspect landing safely. Also I think it would be a good idea if some initial training was included, especially on how best to take off and LAND.

    • lizbeth

      Reply

      Landing this type of microlight/paramotor aircraft is relatively easy, but, yes, training is always advisable and in the case of microlights and paratrikes, compulsory

  5. Mike Croker

    Reply

    Why does it remind me of Mary Poppins?

    Oh, I remember, bonkers!

  6. Garry

    Reply

    First off, you won’t get this on the Tube unless you drain the fuel and vent the fuel tank beforehand. Then you would need to ensure you comply with Railway Byelaws, specifically that you must be able at all times to safely manage your luggage/possessions without assistance. So no taking it down the escalators/stairways one piece at a time. And you can be refused entry to the railway if your possession could be a hindrance to emergency escape from a train, by way of it’s size. And if it’s filthy and not in a cover…

    I like it. I want it. But I couldn’t let it into my station.

  7. James Warren

    Reply

    What is the fuel consumption on this vehicle, and how large is the fuel tank?

  8. Kevin Marman

    Reply

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen. The whole thing’s a joke. We’ve all been taken for a ride (or flight)! You’d need a pilot’s license for anything that can soar that high. And can you imagine the chaos – not to mention the serious, deadly accidents – that would ensue if people started using them en masse in cities?

    • lizbeth

      Reply

      With respect, you’re wrong. I’ve just been looking at this design on Kickstarter and there are two ways you can fly it. Only one requires a licence. When you fly the paravelo in its backpack configuration, it’s classed as a powered hang-glider and as a result unregulated – you don’t need any licence to fly it (although you’d be ill-advised to forgo training). When it’s being flown in its quad configuration (as in the film) you would need a microlight licence.

  9. Barry

    Reply

    sounds great, but no info on how to control height and direction on take off and landing: how much run-way space does it need? I would be worried about tangling with telephone cables and other street clutter.

    • Tomthumb

      Reply

      Control of ascent and descent with this type of parawing aircraft is done on the throttle – more power and you go up, less or no power and you glide to the ground. As lovely as it would be to escape traffic with one of these, you’d need to cycle out of the city before you took off!

      Love the idea of ‘flamping’ though!

  10. Kevin Marman

    Reply

    Hi Lizbeth,
    Thanks for putting me right on those points. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Green to my bones, and am solidly behind any schemes the will get people out of their cars. I’ve checked out the Kickstarter site, too. I see they’ve raised £50 so far of the £50k they’ll need, and I sincerely wish them well in getting the project going. I simply can’t, though, see it ‘taking off’. The dangers inherent in such a mode of transport are phenomenal. Can you imagine the skies over a major city full of, essentially, microlite craft? As Barry has pointed out – power lines, telephone lines, bird strikes, buildings, wind gusts, other Paravelo users… the whole thing is fraught with danger. It would be great for adventuring – on heaths, open moorland, etc. But I don’t see it as a practical alternative mode of transport for the commuter. Having said that, though… again, I wish them well. I’ve a feeling, though, we could be looking at another Sinclair C5. If I was a millionaire financier and could afford to give them the whole £50k, I probably would. But I wouldn’t expect to see any of that money again. On the other hand… I may be completely wrong. As a concession, I’ll say I hope I am wrong!

  11. Geoff

    Reply

    Or just start up the motor and let the fan blast you down the road????

  12. Magnus

    Reply

    What insurance is required?

  13. Matt

    Reply

    So people get paranoid about being spied on by the CIA or MI5 as an invasion of privacy but think is’t a good idea to let any Tom, Dick, Harry or Abdul float around overhead with binoculars and cameras casing houses and gardens for burglary or acting lookout for a gang engaged in some crime. How is the farmer supposed to find out which idiot stampeded the in calf heifers and caused several to abort or who landed in his wheat field causing a major loss. Do we have to wait till a suicide bomber crash-lands one on the Houses of Parliament before we get get proper control of private flying.

  14. Sean Pinter

    Reply

    Simply awesome!

  15. Victor Capen

    Reply

    Birds fly naturally, do it very well, and usually get where they want to go.. People want to fly. We are not birds. Therefore, we keep trying to find artificial ways to do so. Someday there will be a way for us to achieve that goal. The flying suit is another step in that effort. With advanced materials and technology, who knows, we may just get there. By the way, I was offered to help distribute the Sinclair C5 at a computer show in Hong Kong in the 80′s, I declined.

  16. george.guba@uncp.edu

    Reply

    There are numerous ultralights using the same technique. The novelty here is the bike and that it can also be used as a backpack powered paraglider. I read an article about a vehicle mounted paraglider elsewhere.

  17. Bikehound

    Reply

    I want one. I don’t need to say anything else.

  18. Luiz Bueno

    Reply

    Hope seeing the sky crowded with this “ship” very soon. Congratulations to the smart inventors!!!

  19. Edwin

    Reply

    Where can I buy it? I want one or 2.

  20. Pavlos

    Reply

    How much does anyone know?

  21. Chris Barker

    Reply

    April Fool!

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