The Current State Of Solar Powered Motorcycles
Donald Dunklee built his own solar-powered scooter in Michigan. He utilized a stock EVT 4000E as the core drive fed through a Xantrex C-40 charge controller, and a total of four, count 'em four, Atlantic Solar 6" x 25" 30 watt panels set up two to a side like an orbiting satellite provide a broad collector plate to grab all those lovely photons. The solarscoot is set up so that the panels unfold to charge and fold up to ride. Good thing or a stiff wind could have him ending up in Oz looking for Toto.
Although not strictly a motorcycle other than the fact that it has a motor and is a two wheeled cycle, the E-V Sunny Bicycle from Toronto based Therapy Products (which markets therapeutic pillows and compresses... the jump from that to solar bikes is rather befuddling) features light absorbing solar panels adhered to the bicycle's wheels which are supposed to maintain a constant charge to the 17 AH batteries which feed a 500 watt front hub motor. This design is highly suspect as the orientation of the wheels perpendicular to the ground would likely only collect sufficient solar energy when the sun is very low in the sky, such as at sunrise, sunset and during the winter... which, let me tell you from frigid and painful experience, is a very difficult time to ride around in two-wheeled transport in Toronto! Been there, done that, got the hypothermia.
Unfortunately all the other directly solar powered motorcycles exist right now only in the AutoCAD files of fanciful engineers. The bizarre Solar Two Wheeled Armadillo from Spanish company SunRed is supposedly set up so that the solar panels open up like a fan for riding and close right up for parked charging. Not only does this design provide for significant solar panel area but it's also handy for leaving your valuables in the scoot! Design flaws... only a few zillion: Placing solar cells all the way around the Armadillo Shell is pointless. It's a motorcycle, so you can park it with one side facing the sun. The other side would absorb precious few photons, so why jack up the price with all those expensive cells that do nothing? I think perhaps the engineers need to lay off the Sangria. No permanecer toda la noche en el bar de tapas y vino por lo que puede pensar correctamente cuando usted esta en la oficina, Cono, chico!
The Sunny Day is set up for a ten to thirty minute ride on a full sun charge, a claim I would strongly dispute given the fact that the square inches of solar panel would barely charge up a laptop battery. Place this one under the "Yeah Sure" category.
Lightning Motors made worldwide headlines well over a year ago by announcing that they would soon launch a solar powered motorcycle, then went off the radar screen and haven't been heard from since. Their Yamaha F1 has been gutted and fitted with an AC regenerative motor run from an electric throttle and enough LiFePO4 lithium batteries to seriously deplete the world market and leave millions of bipolar patients without medication: A total of 28 batteries, each 90 amp-hours at 3.2 volts and 6.6 pounds. That's 185 pounds of batteries alone. However, this Lithimaha is not solar powered in any direct way and I heartily await their solar powered whatever. A good piece of advice: Don't hold your breath.
So what's the bottom line? Solar motorcycles are nowhere near ready for prime time. At least not yet, and barring a huge battery technology breakthrough, not for several years to come. The only presently "even-remotely workable" option would be to go with something along the lines of the Lithimaha, cram a couple of hundred pounds of very expensive and fragile batteries into a motorcycle frame (can you imagine laying that bike down at speed... yikes...) then cover the roof of your house and garage with solar panels to charge the bike overnight. At current prices for both solar electric technology and US real estate that option might cost just about as much as the house.
Check out Hal's latest Hubs:
Also don't miss Hal's many other Motorcycling Hubs!
- An $85,000 Diesel Cruiser. But It Gets Great MPG!
- Could MPG Alone Get You On A 250 Cruiser?
- Nothing Exceeds Like Excess: Boss Hoss
- Same Bike, Different Name: Suzi Boulevard Vs. Kawi Vulcan
- The Biggest & Meanest: 2007 Kawasaki 2000 Vulcan
- The Wacky World Of Mini-Choppers
- Which Cruiser Engine Layout: A V-Twin Or Straight 3?
- 2007 Factory Choppers Buyer's Guide
- 2009 Yamaha V-Max VMX17: The wrong bike at the wrong time
- All the Fuel-Saving Devices that do nothing but rip you off
- American Vs. Metric Cruisers
- CanAm Spyder: 3-Wheel Cruiser Or Roadgoing Snowmobile?
- Finally! 2009 Official EPA Harley & Yamaha MPG Figures
- Hal's Master Motorcycle & Scooter MPG Reference Hub
- Harley Davidson's Outrageous Pricing Ripoffs
- Honda Fury vs. Yamaha Raider: Perfection Meets Grotesquerie
- How You Can Ride Captain America's Panhead
- Hypermile your motorcycle up to 179 MPG: No snake oil, no scams!
- Is it time to retire superbikes?
- Motorcycle Ergonomics: Getting That Kink Out
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: BMW
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Ducati
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Harley-Davidson Big Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Harley-Davidson Sportsters & Below 1201 cc
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda Boxers & Sixes
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda Off Road
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda Street Singles
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda Transverse Fours
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda V-Fours & CBRs
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda V-Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Honda Vertical Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Kawasaki Ninjas
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Kawasaki Singles
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Kawasaki Vertical Twins, Fours & Sixes
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Kawasaki Vulcans
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Suzuki Singles & Vertical Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Suzuki Sports & Fours
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Suzuki V-Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Triumph
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Yamaha Sports & Fours
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Yamaha V-Twins
- Motorcycle MPG Guide: Yamaha Vertical Singles, Twins & Triples
- Motorcycle nostalgia items I would gladly pay $$$ for!
- MPG Guide: The Fuel Economy Of 700 Top Selling Motorcycles
- MPG Guide: The Fuel Economy Of 250 Top Selling Scooters
- Pugang 125: The motorcycle built by starving slave laborers
- Revolutionary Harley Trike Has 2 Front Wheels That Lean
- Riding Your Bike For Maximum MPG
- R.I.P. XLH: How Could Harley Kill Off The Traditional Sportster?
- Sportster Iron 883: The Bike That Won't Save Harley
- Styling: Why Harleys Look Right & BMW Sedans Look Wrong
- Suzuki 350 runs on water. Pigs fly. Film at 11.
- Suzuki-ENV Hydrogen Fuel Cell Motorcycle?
- Suzuki's 2008 1300 And 1800 Deformed Emetogenic Mutants
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Sportsbikes
- The 25 Wackiest Motorcycles Of All Time
- The Current State Of Solar Powered Motorcycles
- The new 123 MPG Champ: Yamaha Zuma!
- There's no zen in the art of motorcycle maintenance
- Top 10 Japanese Street-Legal Bikes Of All Time
- Top 10 Ugliest Motorcycles Of All Time
- Top 10 Tips For New Motorcycle Riders
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Bizarrobikes
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Current Cruisers
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Golden Age Bikes
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Hypermotards
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Naked Bikes
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Older Cruisers
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Supermotards
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Tourers
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles - 10 Vintage Bikes
- Top 100 Ugliest Motorcycles In History - The Ultimate List!
- Top 50 Best MPG Motorcycles
- Tri Glide Trike Leads Harley Davidson's 2009 Lineup
- Why Motorcycle Manufacturers Missed Out On MPG Mania
- Why the VMX17, Hayabusa And Similar Bikes Should Be Off The Streets
More by this Author
A reliable, fun, street legal brand new 100cc Honda that gets 100 mpg and costs under $1,000? If Honda was smart enough to bring it from India to North America, they'd sell by the thousands!
This is the definitive guide to the fuel economy of the 250 top-selling motor scooters from 50cc to 800cc expressed in mpg and km/l.
The one and only real Braciola: a slice of prime, lean mega-pounded beef, filled with the most delectable mixture on Earth; rolled, browned and then simmered in sauce all day long! Yum!