What is a HPV?

HPV means "Human Powered Vehicle". This term includes all vehicles that are powered only by muscular-strength. The large area of HPV can be divided into many categories. The largest is the bicycle. But you can find HPV's in the air, in and under the water and also on the rail. Some HPV's are build for competition to get faster and faster, but other are for daily use, like the rickshaw in India. A real HPV can be powered by an electric engine, but the energy must come from a human powered generator. Electric bicycles with batteries onboard do not include to HPV's.
In the following, we show you some examples of Human Powered Vehicles. The overview does not claim to be exhaustive.


Land HPV - Recumbent Bicycles

A recumbent bike is a bicycle with a seat position that is inclined backwards and the bottom bracket and the pedals are attached front. Most riders of recumbent bicycles choose this type of design for ergonomic reasons. The position on a recumbent bike is much more comfortable than on a traditional bike, especially on long journeys. The cheap seat position can bring also a gain in speed. But Recumbents may not participate in races of the UCI, because they do not comply with the rules of the Union Cycliste Internationale. The WHPVA offers the possibility to take part in international competitions for all Recumbents.

HPV Recumbent Bike 2 Wheels
Recumbent Bicycle 

HPV Recumbent Bike 3 Wheels
Recumbent Tricycle

Land HPV - Velomobiles

Velomobile, Bicycle Car, Streamliner - these are names for bicycles with full fairing. The aerodynamic shell provides protection from wind and rain. Velomobiles are built for everyday use and for race. A streamliner, for example, is a two-wheeled faired bicycle and such type has set many HPV Land Records. Most Velomobiles have 3 wheels, but there are also those with four wheels.

HPV Long Distance Record Bike MILAN
Milan - Tricycle holds 3 world records

HPV Streamliner
Streamliner - full faired with two wheels

Water HPV

Each canoe, rowing boat or pedal boat is a Human Powered Water Vehicles. The most HPV-boats are used in leisure area. They are driven by canoeing, rowing and blade wheels or propellers. But in Human Powered Water Competition, very fast boats are used, driven by, propeller or air screw. Some boats use hydrofoils to minimize the resistance in the water for more speed.

HPV-Boat Seacycle
Seacycle - Human Powered Catamaran with propeller drive

HPB Decaviator
MIT’s Decavitator - 100m Record since 1991

Also submarines are among the Human Powered Water Vehicles, driven with propeller or non-propeller. Today the Human Powered Submarines are free-flooding wet submarines. It means, that the riders breath from a diving outfit and a scuba-system aboard.

HPSubmarine Scubster
Scubster - Human Powered Submarine (s)

Omer 3 - Record 10m flying start

Rail  HPV

There are also Human Powered Vehicles, which move on Rails. Many of these vehicles are used primarily in the tourism.

Four-wheeled draisine for tourism
Pedaled four-wheel rail-cycle draisine for tourism

Three-wheeled handcar
Velocipede, a Railroad handcar  (w)

Air  HPV

Airplanes are one of the most interesting areas of HPV. There are not many of them, but great achievements could be flown. Let us remember of the HPV-Aircraft Daedalus 88, which remained almost 4 hours in the air.
A Human Powered Helicopter is among the largest and most delicate Human Powered Vehicles. They are build for only one person and all try to win the Sikorsky Prize (one minute flight, 3m high in a square of 10x10m). Winner is AeroVelo Atlas in 2013.

HPV-Airplane Velair
Velair - Human Powered Airplane

HPA Daedalus
MIT Daedalus - flightdistance 115.11 km (71.53 mi)

mlle Louise - Human Powered Balloon (r)