A solar bicycle is made up of the following components: a bicycle, sometimes combined with a trailer, an electric assistance system, and solar equipment.
We will describe these elements below, and consider the different possibilities available to those who want to build their solar bike.
1. The bike
It is possible to use either to use a commercial electric-assisted bicycle, or to use a conventional bicycle to which an electrification kit is added.
1.1 A commercially available electrically assisted bicycle
In this case, be aware that many major manufacturers prevent the user from recharging the battery while the engine is running. This then requires having 2 batteries: one is recharged by the solar panel while the other supplies the motor, which means that the batteries must be replaced periodically. We understand that this system is not the most practical.
In addition, some manufacturers even prevent charging the battery other than by connecting it to the mains charger, which further complicates the task.
But some rarer commercial bikes do not have these limitations and can be easily converted into solar bikes.
1.2 A simple bike to which we add electric assistance
On reading paragraph 1.1, we understand that it is often easier and more efficient to install an electric assistance system on a non-electric bicycle.
Two ways to proceed:
– either by purchasing a complete kit (advantages: simplicity / disadvantages: if the system is “proprietary”, the user cannot use parts from another brand),
– either by composing a kit, by choosing each element (advantages: the choice of each element is much wider, you can better adjust the elements to your own needs, to your practice / disadvantages: the range of possibilities can confuse the beginner).
To read: note from the Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister): https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/actualites/A14325
1.3 Different types of bikes possible
The choice of the bicycle is important because it will often condition the way of installing the solar panels, on the bicycle itself and / or on a trailer.
Many types of bikes have been tried out, according to individual tastes:
- classic upright bike with trailer, 1 or 2 wheels,
- classic upright bike with solar roof,
- straight-lying tandem transformed,
- cargo bike, with panels on the bike or on the roof,
- recumbent bicycle with panels on the roof, and sometimes in tow,
- trike, tandem trike, with panels on the roof, and sometimes in tow,
- velomobile with panels on the roof, and sometimes in tow.