Hiking in southern Burgundy

Yesterday I rode in Saône-et-Loire between Châlon-sur-Saône and Cluny. Sun on top and big heat! The conditions were met for a solar bike to be at ease. And this was the case, because with a used battery whose autonomy is 15km, I was able to take a 130 km round without worry, the sun recharging it all along the road! What beautiful landscapes in this South Burgundy!

Break at “Pierre au Grain” pond, between Cluny and Saint-Bonnet-de-Joux

Bike presentation at Pignons-sur-Rue store

The gable-on-street cycle shop was my first partner.

I thank Julien Fernandez for believing in my project from the first hour and for advising me with a lot of attention and professionalism. He is the supplier of my electric bike and has given me a discount as part of my participation in Sun Trip 2017. It was therefore logical that the first public presentation of my solar bike be organized at home. This event will take place on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, starting at 6.30 pm, at 17 Rue Général Farouk in Dijon.

For the record, the image of the beginning of this partnership, December 17, 2016.

My Partners

This page was very empty at first, and then as the project progressed, the partnerships gradually developed with different actors in connection with the bicycle, the solar or the technology of materials, up to the support, welcome and unexpected, of an Environmental protection association, the ADEROC.

Meeting with the apprentices of the CFAI of Châlon-sur-Saône

With the prospect of a partnership with the CFAI-21-71, I was today presenting my bike to a group of young apprentices in alternation training. I was asking for their help with the machining of aluminum tubes that support solar panels. As a matter of fact, I had machined aluminum parts for sliding the lateral solar panels to reduce the width of the trailer. But my hand tools do not allow to obtain parts with precise and regular ribs, which leads to hinder or prevent its good fonvtionnement

The process of technical creation of solar bike

Throughout this project of creating a technical object, I was able to realize how complex the process of creation is, because indeed:

  • Many parameters are considered (of the Order of the physics;
  • Some parameters are closely correlated (while others are independent);
  • Some parameters are a personal choice or a preconceived idea, others are simply physical laws (NB: Sometimes it is not easier to lift an obstacle linked to a preconceived idea than another one linked to a physical law).

It is not a linear, but cyclical or rather spiral approach. We go through phases of information retrieval, design, research of the right material. Then come the phases of construction and experimentation. When we do not achieve the expected result, we return to the phases of research, design, construction and again experimentation. Sometimes, after several cycles, we achieve the intended goal, and we are happy! When you do not succeed, you are less… We are then led to question certain starting choices, some parameters. And then the cycle starts again…

First visit to CFAI 21-71 in Dijon

Today, accompanied by Elisabeth Dounon, I visited the training center of the apprentices of the industry in Dijon (CFAI 21-71). For me who loves technology, it was a pleasure to discover their equipment, especially the room dedicated to robotics. Then we considered how the apprentices could be associated with the process of creating the solar bike.

I had already seen this French humanoid robot, Nao, at events around digital education.

Obviously, in the lobby, this sign has taken my attention.

With Kelle Fabrik FabLab, I am learning to program an Arduino

Today, the FabLab Kelle Fabrik organizes a workshop to learn how to program an Arduino module. I was enthusiastic about it. What relationship with the construction of a solar bike, will you object? Well, I had seen that some participants in Suntrip 2013/2015 optimised the recovery of solar energy by orienting their solar panels. So the idea germinated to automate this process and I began to dream that, while pedaling, my panels would orient themselves in a dynamic way according to the Sun. Let us hear well: they would orient themselves along a single axis, that of the trajectory of the bike. And of course, I would activate this automatism only in the absence of wind (I was able to realize that with wind, even weak, the panels had to remain well horizontal).

With Kelle Fabrik FabLab, I’m learning how to model in 3d…

Two days before this workshop, I had installed the free and free blender software on my personal computer. By discovering the complexity of the interface, I quickly abandoned the exploration, discouraged. And tonight, after 2 hours of discovery guided by the animator of Kelle Fabrik, I almost manage to finalize my project! I can't believe it. It's great, sharing, collaboration… Thanks to the FabLab to exist!

It must be recognized that there is a special, exciting and almost magical atmosphere here.

What is the consumption of an electric bike?

Of all the motorised modes of transport, the electrically assisted bicycle is one of the most economical: it is estimated to be able to travel on average over 1000 km for €1 of electricity *. * At the current rate of €0.09 per kwh.

Imagine a solar bike for the Sun trip Tour 2017!

How do I go about making my solar bike? I don't own an electric bike, I don't know much about solar energy capture… So the questions are in all directions:

  • For electric bike: What type of engine? Motor hub or pedal?  Motor on the bike or on the wheel of a trailer that pushes the bike?
  • What power for the battery?
  • How can the power of the sun, irregular, charge the battery? How does it regulate?
  • For solar panels: how much? What power? What size? Where to install them? On the bike, on a trailer, on both? How to fix them?

To sort out all these ideas, I realize a mental map: https://app.wisemapping.com/c/maps/503304/public I'm looking for resources on the Internet, there's no shortage. Of course I fall on "the" precursor: from France to Japan by solar bike

Meeting with Image Professionals

I have the project to keep traces of this adventure, in the form of writings, drawings and images. Pictures of course, but I would also like to report films of this SunTrip 2017!  Fix on the "film" The Landscapes that parade, the inhabitants of the villages crossed, and the soundscapes also. However, if I regularly practice the photo, the animated image is somewhat unfamiliar to me. So when I meet Sasha and Perrine, both film professionals, I take the opportunity to ask them for advice. How could a neophyte like me exploit a camera in an adventure such as the Sun Trip? Both are lavish in recommendations and advise me before any economy, sobriety, efficiency… I tell myself that they aimed just, me who too often have a taste for glut! Perrine recommends the film by Thierry Frémaux on the Lumière brothers. Passing through Lyon two weeks later, I run to the institute Lumière to obtain the DVD. I have watched it several times already, there is so much to learn… Thanks to you, Perrine and Sacha, I hope that I will live up to my task in July!

First question: How many solar panels will I need?

Today I met Jean-Claude who is a physics teacher in Dijon. I asked him all the questions that had come to my mind on the previous days:

  • How to calculate the energy consumed by the bike to determine the required surface of solar panels?
  • How is solar energy regulated by nature so fluctuating?

He enthusiastically embarked on clever calculations and brilliant demonstrations, which I sometimes only partially understood, but it was so reassuring to meet someone who knows! Someone who dissipates the fog around us! I will leave with answers and full of new questions, particularly on the practical aspects of the implementation of these basic principles. Before leaving, Jean-Claude tries my electric-assisted bike. For the photo, he poses near the sign bearing the name of his street: "Path of the solar", I'm on the right track!

What is a power-assisted bicycle?

According to Wikipedia, an electric power-assisted bicycle (V.A.E.) is a bicycle equipped with an auxiliary electric motor and a rechargeable battery. Legal definition of a V.A.E. In France, a bicycle with electric assistance must conform to the European Directive EC2002/24 and the French standard NF R30-020 laying down the following general principles:

  • The rated power of the engine shall not exceed 250 watts,
  • The assistance works up to the speed of 25 km/h, not beyond,
  • The support is provided only when the user is pedaling.

A vehicle will be considered a moped if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:

  • The rated engine power is greater than 250 watts,
  • The assistance operates at a speed of more than 25 km/h,
  • The support works when the user does not pedal, for example using a joystick.

In France, such a vehicle must be insured like any moped and requires the wearing of a suitable helmet. Moreover, it is not allowed to take the bike paths.

First Test of electric-assisted bicycle (SOM)

This afternoon it was my "first time", my first try with an electric-assisted bike loaned by the gable-on-street cycle shop. It was a very informative outing for a novice like me, my impressions were contrasting: on the one hand, a great satisfaction to climb the coast of vises at an unusual speed, but on the other hand, what frustration on flat ground when The assistance leaves me as soon as I exceed 25 km/h, the high weight of the bike is then felt! I'll have to get used to it… But on reflection, in recent years, when I randonnais bike with my saddlebags (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food etc…), my average speed has always been less than 25 km/h. This will still be the case this summer, especially since the course in the Alps will have a difference! Under these conditions, the lack of assistance beyond 25 km/h will be more rarely felt.

Why participate in Sun Trip 2017?

In 2013, the first SunTrip had made me dream so much: 30 adventurers who had to join Kazakhstan by solar bike, it seemed so incredible, so exciting! Then there was the 2015 edition just as rich in adventures and lessons.

The 2017 version of the SunTrip will be a “Tour” on a course certainly less oriental than the previous ones but whatever, the departure in July will finally allow me to participate!

At the time of registration, I dream of travel and adventure., I think of all those who had the chance, the privilege to participate in previous editions …
From the first days, I realize that the adventure begins already!
With a lot of questions, unknowns, constraints, research, ideas …

How am I going to build a solar bike?