Solar Powered E-bike Replaces Car Trips

A white longtail cargo bike sits on grass with fenced-in planters behind it. The bike has a basket made of black metal tubes on the front and a passenger compartment behind the rider seat for children made of similar black metal tubes. A white canopy is above the passenger compartment and a solar panel sits atop the canopy.

E-bikes can replace car trips for some people, and adding a solar panel can make the fun last longer. [Luke] did some heavy modifications to his RadWagon to make it better, stronger, and faster than it was before.

The first step was replacing the stock 750 W controller with a 1500 W model to give the motor twice the power. [Luke] plans to replace the motor if it gets fried pushing too much juice, but is planning on just being careful for now. To stop this super-powered ride, he swapped the stock mechanical discs out for a hydraulic set which should be more reliable, especially when loading down this cargo bike.

On top of these performance enhancements, he also added a 50 W solar panel and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) charge controller to give the bike a potential 50% charge every day. Along with the OEM kid carrier and roof, this bike can haul kids and groceries while laughing at any hills that might come its way.

Checkout this other solar e-bike or this one making a trip around the world for more fun in the sun.

20 thoughts on “Solar Powered E-bike Replaces Car Trips

  1. “potential 50% charge every day” means: on a very sunny day. So in spring and autumn it might be at 20% and in the wintertime it is around nothing or below.

    Solution: two batteries and stationary mounted larger panels. And get rid of the huge & heavy sail on the back.

    Mein ja nur.

    1. Since on this model model the motor might fry pushing too much juice, I guess the “sail” is there to protect the solar panel being too bright, blinding passers-by.

      More seriously: the bike seems more solid than the botched article.

    2. The panel doesn’t look like it is really making any odds to the bike, it is not by the looks of it a huge extra drag or weight over the other bits they want… So I’d give this one a pass.

      I agree a stationary mount of larger panels is generally optimal. But if you actually use more than the charge rate over a week on average I’d be surprised, even if he is apparently allowed to turn his bike into something really performant and power consuming (envy speaking). And the one thing a static mount can’t do is be good if you don’t go home as much — perhaps you are thinking of taking a cycle tour of Europe or something!

      1. Yeah but no, it takes an hour to get a thin person locked into that thing, and it can’t carry more weight than that, it’s not meant for actual use but only for wining the annual challange.

  2. I have this bike. It’s great and very handy for car-free sailors in rural Nova Scotia, even in winter. But Rad Bikes cannot supply spare tires nor inner tubes for this model right now, and because they are an unusual size (22″ x 3″ tires and tubes), I can’t recommend buying this otherwise excellent e-bike.

    1. No matter how good a shape someone is in, the average person will never be able to conquer even the slightest hill like a seventy year old on an ebike. I guarantee my 30 minute ride could be done in 20 with an ebike. But I’m doing it for the exercise, so the extra time serves purpose. In terms of practicality for a car alternative, the ebike is far more so than the analog version. ;)

      1. Mostly agree, though I’d also say ebike look like they may well be safer to ride as well – I’ve not had much experience on one so I could be wrong but it seems like they really give you a much better acceleration ability than most riders can come close to. Which I’d think is very useful when reacting to the bonkers stuff other roads users can get up to and means any car stuck behind you for even the tiniest moment is less likely to try that stupidly impossible overtake at a traffic light.

        1. E-bikes seem to rapidly increase the number of accidents.
          In my real life experience with them people seem to think they get superpower with them and they don’t slow down at critical spots, like busy crossings and such, like a normal bicycle rider would. It’s very peculiar. And reports are coming in from increased accident statistics.
          I wonder how psychologists explain that phenomena.

  3. If you really want to conserve energy, wouldn’t regenerative braking be better than hydraulic?
    Roll down a hill, get some speed up – then touch the brakes to both slow the bike AND feed energy back to the battery.

  4. I ride too (not this bike) but as for the “sail” comments, it’s a non-issue – no matter what the ride for a very simple reason. Anyone going fast enough for it to actually be a problem *with their progeny on board* needs to be checked out anyway. Anyone who hits the speeds that an emerg department is in your/their immediate future with a kid on the bike should pay a visit to the nearest children’s trauma center’s post-op ward for post-trauma unit surgery and then hit the long term rehab wing on the way out. That’ll change your mind faster than the speed of impact (pun intended). If it doesn’t: you’re a cold one.

        1. Tiny panel like that is probably not $100, though I’d think it would be getting close, and the battery is tooless to change? in which case it is at least as vulnerable to theft.
          So yeah if the battery for that thing really is that expensive…

  5. If you’re going on long trips, I think a better option would be a detachable trailer that could hold more stuff and provide a greater amount of surface area for solar panels at a lower height.

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