John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The Solar Bike can purr for 40 miles on sustainable energy.
There was a time when riding a solar-powered bicycle meant covering yourself with so many voltaic contraptions you look like a crazy spy satellite.
But folks who dream of cruising on the power of the sun—and not smashing into low overpasses—can rejoice at the Solar Bike, an electric cycle that can whiz up to a face-chilling speed of 30 mph.
The bike, produced by Denmark's Jesper Frausig, looks normal except for a couple alterations. There's a torpedo-shaped battery cannister mounted in the front triangle. And the wheels are solid-black circles, due to solar-paneled skins that look like bike-polo spoke covers.
A full battery can allegedly propel a cyclist for just over 40 miles. When it putters to a stand-still, that's when the “highly efficient” and “shadow optimized” panels come into play, writes Frausig. They can suck up enough juice on a sunny day to go for 15 more miles. On a cloudy one, though, that distance shortens to about 1 mile.
Frausig is gearing the bike toward city riders, the elderly, and people who get sweaty when they huff and puff on a standard cycle. There's no word on whether he plans to sell it as a whole or a conversion kit; developments might move forward on that front if the Solar Bike wins at this year's Index awards.