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Old 05-09-06, 07:58 AM   #1
oilfreeandhappy
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Solar Bike for Touring

I saw these solar bikes the other day.
info@therapyproducts.com

Does anybody have any experience with these? Are they viable for touring? I'm thinking of touring with my wife, and it might be easier for her to keep up, if she had some "power assist". I know that 75# is quite heavy. Is it feasible to pedal this any distance if the sun isn't shining? I thought we could trade bikes in the evening, and I'd ride the heavy beast for a while.

I have written the manufacturer a note, but I'm hoping for some more unbiased opinions here.
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Old 05-09-06, 08:02 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
I saw these solar bikes the other day.
info@therapyproducts.com
- kinda hard to browse an email address?

- OTOH, i use solar power w/my bikes all the time, albeit using a small solar panel for shortwave reception and a low-power (QRP) continuous wave (CW, or Morse Code) transceiver... the panel mounts on top of my pack on the rear rack... in addition, the little unit also charges two AAs..
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Old 05-09-06, 11:06 AM   #3
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I see two major problems with this bike. First of all, the solar panels are unlikely to be able to provide anything more than a small fraction of the total energy used when employing the electric assist. This bike will almost certainly require charging from an electrical outlet if it is going to be used much at all.

Second is the solar panels embedded in the wheels will make the bike dangerous to ride in anything but calm conditions.
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Old 05-09-06, 12:08 PM   #4
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I dont think the wheel mounted panels would extend the range by more than 2 or 3 km. Look for plain elctric assist rear wheel to mount in a light hybrid. This will give a range of more than 18 km, so look for places where you can recharge while you take your breaks.
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Old 05-09-06, 01:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linux_author
- kinda hard to browse an email address?

- OTOH, i use solar power w/my bikes all the time, albeit using a small solar panel for shortwave reception and a low-power (QRP) continuous wave (CW, or Morse Code) transceiver... the panel mounts on top of my pack on the rear rack... in addition, the little unit also charges two AAs..
Duh, thanks. Here's the link:
http://www.therapyproducts.com/products_sunnybike.html

Good comments and suggestions. Also hoping to get some more input.
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Old 05-09-06, 03:42 PM   #6
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At this point it is a novel product that hasn't got all the bugs out, so it would be a lot to invest in something that might be a big disappointment. 75 lbs seems way too heavy for your wife to tour on over hills and loaded with gear, although paradoxically, the rear panel/battery would severely limit the bike's cargo capacity.
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Old 05-09-06, 04:03 PM   #7
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At this point it is a novel product that hasn't got all the bugs out, so it would be a lot to invest in something that might be a big disappointment. 75 lbs seems way too heavy for your wife to tour on over hills and loaded with gear, although paradoxically, the rear panel/battery would severely limit the bike's cargo capacity.
There seems to be even more of a problem with the bike then the weight. The Norco that they show appears to have no wiring of any kind on it. I see no extra wiring in the picture that you'd expect if the 'motor' was on the front wheel. And the 'fork mounted motor' is conveniently hidden. Also those 'Solar panels built right into the Wheels' look suspiciously like mylar wheel covers. There are no semiconductor wafers on them. I'm not even sure you can mount solar cells on a spinning platform and get electricity out of them. And the semiconductor wafers aren't particularly light nor sturdy. I don't think they would hold up as wheel covers.

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Old 05-09-06, 10:35 PM   #8
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Sorry - it's a total scam. As Cycco mentions, you can't get crystalline PV on the wheels like that - they come from 5" silicon wafers like chips. Even if they somehow got the other stuff (thin film PV) on the wheels and wired up, the angle is all wrong - needs to be perpendicular to the sun at mid-day. Then figure that even if you had optimum angles, and good sun, you can only get about 100W per square meter of panel (less with thin film) and you have .8 of a square meter, so max 80W. Not counting for the losses going thru the battery, wiring etc, that's about 1/10 of a hp. Of course the bike would have to be lying on it's side, at noon, on a very sunny day...
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Old 05-09-06, 11:03 PM   #9
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You can solve your whole problem by having her take the lead and you can keep up as best you can. As long as you don't make it a big ego thing where she spends the whole day trying to keep up, she should be fine, assuming she is as sold on the idea as you are. Throw all the gear in a bob equipt bike that you pull, and leave her with just here personal gear. On the other hand, if she is a toughie like my wife, she won't need any help. My wife could be seen climbing any hill with 100 pounds of kids in the trailer, disappearing over the horizon.
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Old 05-09-06, 11:31 PM   #10
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I'm glad I posted this. Thanks for all the advice. I think you're right. It must be a scam. I wrote asking for more info, and I got a note back saying they would add more specifications to the website at the end of May. It's probably nothing more than a power assist bicycle which has to be recharged in a 110 V outlet.
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Old 05-10-06, 06:03 AM   #11
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A better idea would be to get you both a tandem
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Old 05-12-06, 12:54 AM   #12
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A better idea would be to get you both a tandem
+1

As others have mentioned, the very idea proposed is preposterous with current technology. Looking at the photo the OP listed there is no hub motor and the wheels covers are certainly NOT photovoltaic. Must be either a scam or a joke, I think.
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Old 05-12-06, 07:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsexson
+1

As others have mentioned, the very idea proposed is preposterous with current technology. Looking at the photo the OP listed there is no hub motor and the wheels covers are certainly NOT photovoltaic. Must be either a scam or a joke, I think.
Although, after showing this to a co-worker and having a good laugh, he noticed that the delivery date isn't until later in this year. It could just be a mock up rather than a scam at this point. It's kind of a silly idea and I doubt very much if the solar cells could be put into the wheels because of their fragile nature. On the other hand, in 1997 the lab I work at had a solar bike race for high school students. The bikes are really goofy and handled poorly and were blazingly fast! For pictures go to http://www.nrel.gov/data/pix/searchpix.html and search for "solar bicycle"
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Old 05-12-06, 08:48 AM   #14
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It could just be a mock up rather than a scam at this point.
That's a kindly evaluation. One would hope they at least had a working protoype to photograph before they started taking cash orders.
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