In their journey to recapture the pioneering spirit of the Wright brothers, John Foden and Yannick Read founded XploreAir and designed the Paravelo, a bicycle capable of taking flight. Foden and Read share more than 30 years of design experience, producing new ideas based on old principles. “We are not reinventing the wheel,” Foden says, “but we are creating things which use a combination of technologies that we’ve never seen before.”
The XploreAir Paravelo is a conventional two-wheeled bike with a detachable trailer that houses a powerful fan. Powered by a biofuel motor, the fan propels the bike forward as a flexible para-wing lifts it into the air. The wing is connected to two aluminum arms that extend out from the fan.
Once flying, the Paravelo can travel for up to three hours at 25 mph and can reach altitudes of up to 4,000 feet. The design is lightweight, made of aircraft grade aluminum, and can be easily folded down for transportation and storage.
The modular nature of the bike and air frame trailer allows the user to detach the fan and wear it on their back for a foot launch. This set-up gives improved performance in the air and allows for takeoff in higher and changeable wind conditions.
The most difficult design challenge was allowing for these variations in use, but making sure that it wasn’t lacking in one aspect to make up for another. “We prototyped three different vehicles, tweaking as we went along, changing the design and making sure it was as stable as possible. We didn’t want to compromise on any of the elements. It needed to work as well off the road as it did in the air,” explains Foden.