Interview with François Garneau fonder of VELOMTEK Inc.


Hi, Francois, thank you for accepting invitation for industriotech magazine.
You are very welcome to this podcast. Please explain to us about Velomtek and the background and what is the Velomtek and advantage of Velomtek.
Okay, okay. So hello Mohamed and so it’s a pleasure for me to be with you tonight for discussing about Velomtek business.
So I started Velomtek in 2016. So it was in my home, in my garage, my basement, and I started the design of a velomobile, which was a delta configuration at that time.
So I started to make the 3D CAD drawings and the check all the other products on the market.
And after three years, no, sorry, in 2017, I started to make the components to build the mechanical portion of the trike.
So at that time, the velomobile was a delta trike, a delta style. And so I started to make all the mechanical parts of the structure, the wheels and everything.
And in 2017, then I made the moulds to make the shell. And after making the moulds, I made a couple of parts.
And these parts were made in polycarbonate instead of composite material. And so at the end of the process, in 2017 and 2018, there was a first prototype that was, riding on the roads.
And I made the tour de l’ile 2017 or 2018 with this machine. And it was interesting to work with the machine, but I was experiencing many things that says, okay, it’s not a product that I could make for sale.
It’s a good for prototyping and testing, but the product is not good enough to be commercialized.
So I made new search on the internet. What can I improve on the products? And in 2018, I developed the model called VX2.
So the first model was the VX1. So that you can see it on the internet if you look, they don’t take VX1, you will see that machine. And it was a fully yellow color.
Yes. And so in 2018, I developed another model, which is called the VX2. And the VX2 was still a delta configuration with two wheels on the back, one wheel on the front, with a front wheel drive with a motor on the front.
And it was a differential for the rear wheel. So it was a three wheel drive machine. And then I get a first order from a guy in Ottawa region in 2018, at the end of 2018.
And then I started making or to produce these automobiles. And I made five of these VX2. And so I experiment a lot of things with this machine.
But the sales was not growing very fast. And I said, OK, what is wrong with my concept? How can I improve the product? And then I started to talk with potential customers in Quebec and Ontario. And I said, OK, if you would like to develop a tadpole configuration.
So two wheels on the front and one on the back, maybe we could be interested in your machine and maybe more enthusiast with this concept. So I decided to put the VX2 on the side and start working on the R&D for the VT1.
And so we designed from scratch on a CAD file and we built prototypes. We built a first two or three different mechanical prototypes to test many things.
Front to direct steering mechanism, the rear suspension and everything. And in 2020, I was able to build the molds and to build a complete VT1 machine with the frame, with the rear suspension, with the body shell made of a carbon fiber.
And it was a red color. So you can see it on the internet too. When you go to Velomtek web site website, you can see on the video that shows on the drop page, you can see a VT1 in red color riding on a bike path. So that machine was the first prototype of the VT1.
Yeah, interesting. Do you know the competitor? Is there any competitor in Canada or maybe just in Europe or United States?
Based on the information I have for the moment, there is no competitor for that kind of machine. So fully enclosed, recumbent trike, with carbon fiber, with electric assist.
So right now, we are the only one in Canada. And I could say that when I talk to people involved in the recumbent world or market, they say, hey, Francois, you are the only manufacturer of these kind of machines in North America.
Yeah, it’s what I can say at this time. So European machines are very good machines and most of them are human powered only. But for our customer, we develop an electric assist and non electric assist VT1.
Yeah, awesome. It’s very good. Could you explain the velo? What is the velo?
Yes, the company name Velomtek is for Velo Mobile Technology. That’s what I put this name. And when I looked for Velomtek, I searched for a name that was not used on the internet for website or a name that I could use for trademark.
So Velomtek is a trademark in Canada. And so, and this is the story of the company name.
Thank you so much. I will ask about the safety and specification of this.
Velo Mobile, Velo Mobile, talk about the safety.
The Velo Mobile is built mainly on a, we have the subframe, which is made of aluminum aeronautic grade.
So, it’s an aluminum weldment. And this mechanical frame is attached properly on the bottom section of the body shell.
And this body shell is made of carbon fiber and epoxy. So, it’s very rigid material.
So, we have a very rigid structure for the seat, for all the driving mechanism on the front. So, with the crankset, the chain wheel and the way it works is when we pedal on the front, we drive a long, quite long chain that goes from the front crankset to the rear 14-speed transmission, the transmission is a Rohloff component. So, we engage this Rohloff transmission with the front chain.
And then we have a second chain that comes out that is connected to a sprocket on the Rohloff and it goes through the one sprocket on the back.
And we have a rear suspension made of aluminum material also.
This suspension can be adjusted with two different kind of elastomer for the driver weight.
And it can be adjustable in three different positions for getting harder or softer.
And the velomobile is built with three 20 inches wheel. So, Marathon Plus on the back and other 20 inches Schwalbe tires on the front.
And the main feature of the automobile is there are a couple of main features, but one of the main features is there’s a quite big door to get in the automobile.
When we compare it to other European velomobile, where you have a manhole, it can be difficult for some people to get in and get out.
So, the ergonomic of the machine was very important for us. And since the structure and the body shell is made of very good and resistant material,
in a case of an impact, maybe a rear impact or a side impact, the driver will be quite well protected to be injured.
And as an example, last year there was one of my customers living in Alberta or Calgary.
Yes, I think he’s living near in Manitoba, sorry. And he was driving on a road and he was hurt by a car that was not seeing him properly on the road.
And so, the front left of his automobile was hit by the car and the automobile shift on the ground, but was not damaged.
And then the car started to ride away. And my customer decided to run after the guy because he took the driving license.
And finally, he was able to get the driving license number. And the automobile was damaged for the paint, but the mechanical portion and the body shell was not damaged.
And the driver was not damaged or injured too.
So it was an experience that shows the stiffness and not solidity, but the resistance to shock of this machine.
We also have a kit of turns signals for a left and right front and rear. We have a flag kit that can be installed on the rear portion to make it more visible on the roads.
And we painted the automobile with bright colors like white yellow, orange and red. So these colors are very visible.
So when we ride these machines on the roads, since it’s an unusual shape in terms of machine or vehicle, and since it’s made of bright color, you can see it very easy.
So these mechanical and the geometry feature provide more safety for the drivers.
What about the helmet? Helmet is necessary, mandatory or not?
The VT1 is a velomobile with electric assist as an option. We have two different models. We have the VT1-14S, which is the automobile with only pedal only.
And we have the VT1-E-14S, which has a motor in the rear wheel. So it’s a Grin Technologies rear motor with a drive, with a good lithium battery.
And since this VT1-E-14S is considered as an e-trike, the helmet is mandatory for riding a VT1 with electric assist.
And it’s configured with to ride up to 32 kilometers per hour, and it has 500 watts motor in the back.
So when they are sold for Canadian customers, we set these parameters. And when it’s sold for USA customers, we can set the power up to 750 watts.
And we can set the maximum speed to 25 miles per hour.
Awesome, thank you. And what about the shoes?
We recommend strongly to use bike pedal shoes. Normally, on the VT1, we install SPD-Compatible pedals.
So the driver can purchase or use different kind of shoes, but the sole, I think, the parts that we clip underneath the shoes need to be compatible to SPD pedal.
But if someone has a different kind of pedal shoe, we just have to remove it and install it.
And the reason we recommend to use clip pedals is because when you pedal at fast cadence, you want to have a good mechanical and physical efficiency.
And you want also to make sure that your foot is properly located at an optimized location on the pedal and your feet will not drop down and be injured because it gets in contact with the ground or the body shell.
So that’s why we recommend using clip pedal.
Thank you so much. Is it acceptable to carry child or is it suitable for kids or not?
We do not recommend to carry any other human in the back of the seat, whatever it’s a child or because it’s not designed for that.
We designed the VT1 to have a good storage capacity in the rear portion of the machine.
So you just have to flip the seat forward because the seat is attached with two pivot points on the front.
So when you get out of the vehicle, you just have to flip the seat forward and then you have an access to the rear portion of the body shell surrounding the wheel guard.
So in this region, you can put your bags, your jacket, your clothes, maybe some small equipment if you want to make a long ride or a lunch.
I think there’s about 3 to 3.5 cubic foot of storage capacity.
So it’s very interesting for people who want to do a long ride or not only for commuting but to do touring usage.
Thank you so much. And what about transfer this available mobility? If you need to go to a trip or long distance, is it possible to carry with a car or you need to put on the truck?
It’s a good question. There are different ways to transport the automobile for a very long distance.
One of them is to put the automobile in a small trailer that we could attach in the back of a car or a truck.
So you just need a trailer that has at least 36 inches wide by about 96 inches long.
So a standard four by eight trailer can be used for bringing the automobile on a very long distance.
And the other possibility is to put if you have a pickup truck, you could install your VT1 in the back of your pickup and attaching it properly and then go as far as you can.
And then move it down and ready to go. And if you have a close a close a truck with a not close area, but so if you have a truck that is fully closed in the back and you can put the velomobile in and close the door.
That would be better because the snow, the rain or other contaminants on the roads will not getting into the velomobile.
So at your final destination, it will be clean and ready to. So that are the options actually available.
Thank you so much. And the last question is for the pricing. What is the pricing and the spare parts?
Okay, right now we sell our products to canadian customers and the USA customers.
As I said, we have two different models. We have the VT1-14S. That is available with different options.
But the base model of the VT1-14S is $9,400 in Canadian funds.
And the VT1-E-14S started at $12,950.
And on after taking the basic configuration, you can add some options like front wheel covers made in carbon fiber.
You could have a special color for the paint. So there’s a list of potential options you can add to your configuration.
And there’s also a full visor. That is very interesting for people who ride in the cold condition or in heavy rain condition.
So with the full visor, you can ride in and stay dry for all the day.
And so this is for Canadian customers. So I think that the video is for mostly for Canadian customers or…
Yeah, thank you so much.
And if you go to the website,, because I talk a lot about the description, but the easiest way to understand our product is to go to
And then, at the beginning, there will be a video showing the velomobile on a bike path with a drone.
And then, if you go into gallery section, you have about, I think, five or six different videos. And the latest one was made in January this year.
And it explains most of the product. It provides a good product overview.
So that is the introducing video when we go to the drop page.
And I could also mention by watching this video, I could also mention that we have a left and right mirrors.
So with these mirrors, we can see on both sides if cars or trucks or something else is coming close to us.
And so this video was taken in September or October last year.
But the video with the red color, this was made in 2021, I think.
A very nice color.
Yes, we have the yellow and orange color are very attractive colors and highly visible.
Many people asking us how long can we ride with the electric assist with one battery charge.
And also at the time, I said, okay, it could be from 100 to 150 kilometers, depending on how much power you put on the pedal by yourself.
And also how much assistance level you ask to the motor.
So the controller provide a six different level of assistance.
So from zero to 300 percent.
And when you put the 300 percent, you can accelerate very fast because the motor will reach 500 watts very fast.
And the transmission has 14 speed.
So in the range for these gears, 530 percent range.
So the gear number one is very easy to rotate.
So you can climb very steep hills.
And when you go to speed or the gear 14, then you are able to pedal with a good cadence and ride up to 45 kilometers and maybe sometimes 50 kilometers per hour.
So we can go fast in a VT1.
There is any fast charging on the battery?
There is no fast charging.
The battery is a lithium-ion battery.
52 volts, 20 amp per hour.
So it provides approximately 1000 watts of energy.
So 1 kilowatt.
And when the battery is fully charged, it reaches 58 volts, approximately 58.5, sometimes.
And when it goes to the low level, we stop at 40, 44 volts.
And when the battery is getting to very low level, it may takes approximately 6 hours to fully recharge with a 3 amp per hour charger.
So we could charge the battery with higher rate in terms of amp per hour, but it may reduce the number of cycles or the life of the battery.
So that’s why the manufacturer recommend to use a lower amperage charger that we can just plug on to the wall with 120 volts AC.
So if you bring your charger with you and you go to a very far distance and go to your friend or someone else, you can easily bring your charger with you.
And at the end of the day, if the battery is getting to low level, you can plug it mostly everywhere and charge your battery.
And the morning after, you’re ready to do a long ride.
Thank you. And I will attach to some images and the video on this podcast.
It was a very nice talking with you. It’s much appreciated for your time on this podcast.
Okay. If I have anything to add to this podcast.
Yes, that’s it. What I could say is that to terminate this podcast is we installed a company in the industrial facility in 2021.
And we started manufacturing process to get into production for the VT1 in 2022.
And so by the end of 2022, we increase our capacity to build these machines.
We improved our quality. We develop all our processes.
We learn a lot to make these velomobile to a high quality level.
Because for us quality and good customer support and good warranty is very important.
So the product is made design and made in Quebec.
And if you are interested to get in touch with us, you have our website.
You can reach us by phone, by email.
And if you are not too far from Beloeil, you can come in Beloeil and visit us as you did a few months ago.
And it would be a pleasure to show you to show you our products and maybe make a test right.
Thank you. Do you have anything to add?
Yes, maybe the last point is if you want to subscribe to our newsletter.
We have a newsletter on your website to just have to go to the bottom of the front page.
And you can subscribe to newsletter to be inform for the upcoming news.
And we have a promotional promotion right now up to the till the end of this month.
So up to the May 31st.
So with a 5% off of the base price for the VT1 and 10% of rebate on the options.
So if you are interested, please contact us and I will be pleasure to talk to you and provide all the answers to your questions.
And thanks to your time and your opportunity to communicate our passions to future customers.
Thank you and have a great day.
Okay, thanks.
Thanks and see you soon.
Bye bye.