Hybrid pedal and electric – the “Henry Hollick” experiment

The Prospectory is experimenting with “not-cars” – i.e. ultra low energy. lightweight alternatives to cars which are efficient, cheap AND fun to drive short local distances in a hilly, rural area. Can we entice people into having some fun discovering different ways to get around?

Cars are designed to travel hundreds of miles in great comfort at 70mph but we mostly use them to travel a few miles to the nearest shops or work. We don’t consider this strange even though it’s costly, uses a lot of energy and carbon and most of that is to move the vehicle rather than the people in it! We are interested in whether we can change this entrenched behaviour and perception.

Our b-bug project with electric road legal buggies is an ongoing ‘not-car’ experiment and we are currently seeking ways to establish b-bugs as rentable vehicles for visitors to the Brecon Beacons National Park. People love driving them as an alternative to their car and at 30mph with a 25 mile range, they are fine for many of people’s local car journeys (at least in dry weather).

But, we are intrigued by whether an even lighter weight electric vehicle is possible because the lighter the vehicle, the less energy required to move it – especially if you don’t mind travelling a bit more slowly and taking a few more minutes to reach your destination.

We recently discovered that my Great Grandfather, Henry Hollick designed the body for the first ever J.K. Starley electric tri-car built in the UK in 1888. Here it is:-

Intrigued, we wondered if we could experiment with something along those lines. It would also allow us to reintroduce the option of harnessing some human energy in the form of pedal power. Pedal power is so amazingly efficient, it seems a shame to waste its potential (and it keeps us healthy) but we have found that many people simply aren’t happy riding a 2 wheel bicycle. So, can we combine some of the comfortable, sitting down, side by side aspects of a car with the electric assist pedalling power of an electric bike?

As an experimental project, The Prospectory has just taken delivery of a Ricksycle from Canada – the nearest model we can find for an electric tri-car along the lines of the one designed by Henry Hollick himself. Here we are in our first “Hollick” outing – a working run to the Post Office 2 miles away.

Freewheeling downhill to Talybont certainly gave us an enjoyable feel for what riding in the first electric tri-car in 1888 might have been like. Pedalling back up the hill reminded us that electric assistance on the ‘Hollick’ would make a big difference to its everyday utility and enjoyment and take it a step closer to its 1888 fore-runner.

Experiments will continue. Watch this space.





About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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