The Flevobike was originally developed by Johann Vrielink in 1986-1987 as a project for schools. The Vrielink family set up the Flevobike company to manufacture the Bike in 1989; the Trike version was introduced in 1991. It is a design which is eccentric even by recumbent standards. It uses an idiosyncratic "mid-steering" system (''kantel-kniksysteem''), in which the frame is in two parts joined by a hinge under the front edge of the seat. The hinge is controlled by a rubber damper (diabolo). You steer by leaning into the bend, moving your legs relative to the seat. An advantage of the system is that the modular system allows you to use the same front frame with either a bike or trike rear frame.
I bought my Trike secondhand from someone in Amsterdam, via an advertisement in ''HPV Nieuws''. After a few lessons in the street outside his apartment, I was confident enough to ride it the 60 km or so back to The Hague. Fortunately, nothing major went wrong on the way, but it was a bit nerve-wracking at first. I did feel very stiff the next day, but found after a bit of trial and error that it was a lot easier to get going with the bars mounted on the rear frame rather than under the seat.
My Flevotrike is a fairly ancient model, bought second or third hand ca.1998, so probably nearly twenty years old now. This one still came with 438 size wheels. This is a peculiar Dutch version of 20-inch, now largely superseded by the 406 size: Tempelmann, who took over the Bike/Trike product line, seem to be the only people who still stock the tyres. The Trike had been retro-fitted by the previous owner with the new, big rear box, and all the elastomers had been replaced recently. To add to the eccentricity of the whole thing, it came with a huge 65-tooth chainring and a Sachs Orbit 2x7 hub (an early ancestor of the modern SRAM Dual Drive).
I've since modified it by replacing the front wheel with a new 406 size example, fitted with a Shimano 8-speed hub gear and hub brake, which makes it a lot more convenient in its main role as a short-distance load-carrier.
- The tailbox will swallow vast quantities of shopping, but can be horribly noisy when empty
- Very manouverable at low speeds - with a bit of practice you can get it to turn in just over its own length: zig-zagging through obstacles is easy
- It wears out front tyres fairly quickly
- The seat gets uncomfortable on longer rides
- The chain is unprotected (there should be a chain tube, but it obviously disappeared somewhere in the mists of time...) so it's not wise to ride it in good trousers.