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Build your own Maxun solarbike

At first, I planned selling the Maxun solarbike in small quantities, that’s why I patented it in the USA. But building the Maxun is quite time consuming and expensive, the bike would only be available to the happy few. So, I’m still the sole owner of the Maxun, but I wish everyone this pleasure. That’s why I’m going to share the solar bike under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 Creative Commons License

Vertalen naar het Nederlands

Mijn website is grotendeels in het Engels maar je kunt het zeer goed automatisch laten vertalen naar het Nederlands:
Op de PC: Druk op de rechter muis toets > Vertalen in het Nederlands
Op de smartphone: Druk op de drie puntjes rechts bovenaan > Vertalen > Selecteer beneden aan: Nederlands

It may be an interesting project for a technical university too. All electronic designs, mechanical CAD files and other documents will be published on GitHub, but that may take a while since I have to sort out and update documents from a collection of 24000 design files in 4700 folders.

In April 2010, I started with the Maxun solar bike. The first project was the research of a lightweight PV encapsulation, which took 1 year. Here is a photo from an article in the newspaper about this:

Albert van Dalen with the PV cell curvetracer from 2010
Albert van Dalen with the PV cell curvetracer from 2010

At the moment I’m investigating whether I can have the difficult parts such as the sandwich panels manufactured.

This is my Maxun One solar bike, it is fast and very lightweight, without the need of any trailer:

The first 2-wheel solarbike that drives entirely by solar energy
The first 2-wheel solarbike that drives entirely by solar energy

Contact me

Feel free to contact me if you want to know anything about the solarbike, I will be happy to help you.

A lightweight solarbike that drives entirely by solar energy

Imagine that you can cycle entirely by the sun's power. Until now this was a pie in the sky. But with my invention of the Maxun One solar bike, the impossible has become possible. The solar panels alone deliver the energy for a speed of 25km/h without pedalling and with a little additional pedalling you easily reach 30km/h. 

The solar bike is made very lightweight, sportive and fast, despite the solar panels it rides almost as light as a road bike. The solar panels are small enough to allow easy riding in traffic, and large enough to perform well, even on a semi-cloudy days. A small battery provides energy in the absence of sunlight.

Riding by solar energy is a unique experience; we just need sunny summer weather. You will often overtake other cyclists which wonder: what was that? The solar bike is one of the most remarkable vehicles on the street, nothing compares, no one has ever seen such a thing before.

The advantage over a normal e-bike is the absence of large batteries; this makes the Maxun One lighter than any e-bike, just 17kg. Instead of lugging around with heavy batteries, which have to be charged on the go anyway, you can now drive day after day without being dependant on recharging. It is like having a perpetual motion machine!

The development of the solar bike was a technical challenge; all components have to be of the highest level, such as the solar cells, for which a superior, anti reflective, low loss coating had to be developed. Aerospace materials are used to reduce the weight of the whole solar bike to 17kg, but also make it strong enough to withstand stress caused by riding at high speed on bad roads. Furthermore the solar bike remains stable at high speed, even with both solar panels. 

At the Maxun One solar bike, high tech, beautiful design and usability comes together. Because it is the first solar bike of its kind in the world, it's called the "One".

Lightweight solarbike drives entirely by solar energy
Lightweight solarbike drives entirely by solar energy

The mission: solar power from the Sahara

My solar bike has a mission: showing how powerful the sun is and that we can only save the earth by building massive solar power plants in the deserts.

People still think that they are doing well with having solar panels on roofs and save energy. However, that's a misconception, it is a drop in the ocean.
For a real energy transition, the entire energy that is being used worldwide, must be generated sustainably. The energy that can be generated in Europe is a far too less and it will be too expensive.

We need several solar plants of hundreds-by-hundreds kilometers. It is essential that the sun always shines, without any clouds. There is only one way to achieve this and that is to use the deserts worldwide.

In fact, there is no lack of energy, and solar energy can be produced particularly cheaply. Once we use just renewable energy, you can, without remorse, drive as much in your car as you want, and it doesn't matter if you fly to faraway places several times a year.

You can read all about the mission on the following websites:

German Association for Concentrated Solar Power
Vereniging voor Zonnekrachtcentrales

Deutscher Industrieverband Concentrated Solar Power DCSP
Deutscher Industrieverband Concentrated Solar Power DCSP

The Sun Trip

There are now many people who have built a solar bike. See here the participants of The Sun Trip contest:

Participating cyclists in The Sun Trip challenge
Participating cyclists in The Sun Trip challenge

Solar bike F.A.Q.

Can any electric bicycle be used as a base?

No, it is necessary for the ebike to be lightweight and drive very energy-efficiently. Normal electric bicycles are much too heavy and cumbersome. See this article.

What does the addition "One" mean?

The addition One is for the solar bike(s) made by myself.

Is the solar bike for sale?

I have plans to sell the Maxun One in the future. But producing the Maxun One in the quality that I have in mind is very expensive.

What is the use of the solar panels?

You would think that the use of the PV panels is obvious, but many people wonder what they are for. The solar panels generate the power for the motor.

How many microcontrollers does the solarbike have?

A total of 10 microcontrollers of own design: cable killer, 3x fuel gauge, 4x meter (Psolar, Pmotor, fuel, Volt), 2 lights.
A total of 4 microcontrollers from existing design: BMS, motor controller, 2x MPPT.

What kind of motor is used?

Temporarily, a front hub motor is used, but the solar bike requires a very high efficient mid drive motor. Unfortunately, no available motor satisfies, all are far too heavy and not efficient enough. Therefore, I’m currently developing a new mid drive motor. The mid drive motor will be unsurpassed: the efficiency is above 90% in the whole range and the weight is just about 1kg. The motor power is 1500W but will be limited to about 350W.

Should we additional pedal too?

At sunny summer weather, you don't need to pedal at all.

What is the speed by solar energy?

On flat roads, a speed of 15mph or 25km/h is easily achieved. With a little additional pedalling you easily reach 19mph or 30km/h.

What is the average solar power?

The rated power is 240W. At full sun, the power is usually between 160W and 200W. Note, the panels are cooled by the air stream, this is an important factor that increase the solar power.

What is the maximum solar power?

Sometimes, the PV panels deliver 250W. If the panels were faced to the sun, this would be 300W. Thus, the PV power can be higher than the rated power. This occurs at partly cloudy weather. When the sun shines through the clouds, the PV panels receive the direct sunlight but also sunlight reflected by the clouds.

Is full sunlight required?

Even on semi-cloudy days or at low sun, the solar panels deliver usually more than 100W; this gives still substantial pedal support.

Can the PV panels be removed?

The panels can be removed in a few seconds.

Do the solar panels suffer from shadow as do usual PV panels?

Because the bicycle is regularly shaded, the panels and their electronics have a special design which effectively reduces the shadow influence.

What is the bike at the photos?

The photos are made of the Maxun One prototype.

Are the solar panels not dangerous while driving?

Some people find the solar bike dangerous. But what about cars and trucks racing along cyclists? That’s seriously dangerous. Compared to that, the solar bike is harmless. The solar panels automatically move away should a collision occur.

Why does it have a battery?

The solar bike needs a small battery because the instantaneous power, for example at acceleration or at uphill, may be larger than the solar panels provide. In addition, the electronics requires a battery. However, if sufficient solar energy is received, the battery doesn't have to deliver any power.

Should the battery be charged?

At accelerating and driving uphill with motor support, the battery is needed, which has to be sufficiently charged by the solar panels on the go. Therefore we need to save energy on flat roads so that solar energy is left over to charge the battery.

Is it stable at parking?

The solar bike has a very stable side stand for parking. But with strong winds, the solar bike must be parked against a pole or tree.

Is absence of sun a problem?

In absence of sun we have to pedal when the battery is empty also. But the Maxun One rides almost as light as a road bike because the panels form no additional wind load.

What is the motor power?

The motor power is 250W (limited by law in Europe), that does not seem much but it's enough for a speed of 27km/h. Do not compare the light running Maxun One solar bike with a common energy guzzling heavy e-bike. It makes no sense to use a bigger motor, there is not more solar energy available. In the future, a mid drive motor will be used instead of the front motor, which will increase the uphill performance a lot. 

Is the bike sensitive to side winds?

Even strong wind is no problem because there has been made much effort to minimize the side wind sensitivity.

What is the speed uphill?

With the temporarily front hub motor, you have to additional pedal a little uphill to supply extra energy, but most energy comes from the motor. 

Was it difficult to make?

Yes, although the solar bike looks uncomplicated. But it is very difficult to come out to a simple looking solution.

What is the action radius?

You can ride 100km or more a day entirely solar powered, so without pedalling or using battery energy.

What is the advantage over a ebike with just a battery?

The solar panels can provide an energy of 1500Wh per day. A high quality battery of this size has a weight of at least 15kg.

Can the solar panels be made smaller?

There is no trick which makes it possible to use much smaller PV panels. With the use of aerospace solar cells, which have the highest efficiency, the panel size can be reduced with 25%, but these would make the Maxun One $100,000 more expensive. The received solar energy is proportional to the surface area of the PV panels and so a smaller size means less power. Note that vertical panels receive just very little solar energy.

The solar panels may seem large at first glance, but that's because you haven't seen them before. After a while you don't know better and they seem rather small. Furthermore, the solar bike is not larger than a child transport bicycle. So it is not necessary to reduce the solar panels and we don't want to reduce solar power. 

What do you think of an overhead top panel?

This has drawbacks: it is top heavy, catches much more wind and it looks like a Pope mobile.

How long takes battery charging during parking?

If the battery is completely discharged, recharging by the PV panels takes about one hour.

What is used, a torque sensor pedal assist or cadence sensor pedal assist?

I prefer cadence sensor pedal assist with up/down push buttons for motor power control. Torque sensor paddle assists is pointless with my solarbike because most of the time you don't have to pedal at all. Only rotating the pedal is needed, because that is mandatory.

Are there any drawbacks?

The bike is much faster than a normal bike, but if you take the time into account that you spend with answering questions from interested people, the bike is just as fast.

Solar-bike from Maastricht
Solar-bike from Maastricht

Solar cycling: a new sport

People sometimes ask me: why don’t you charge the battery at home with solar energy and then cycle without panels? But you also don’t ask a sailor: why don’t you use an electric boat and then charge the battery at home with a windmill? Like sailing, solar cycling is a sport where the challenge is to maximize the speed by the wind respectively solar energy.

The Maxun One solar bike has a small lightweight battery as a buffer, just enough for a few kilometres. The one that best balances between battery power and solar power is the fastest.

How to plan the best route for the most sun

The solar panels can be tilted 20 degrees towards the sun if needed.

If the sun is high, it does not matter much what the orientation of the sun is in relation to the solar bike, the panels can then be horizontal.

Does the sun come from the side, then there is no shadow and the panels can be tilted towards the sun at low sun.

The worst situation is when the sun comes from the front or from behind. When the sun is also low, then one panel is always in the shade because of the cyclist. An additional disadvantage is that we can't tilt the panels to the sun either. In spring or autumn, the sun is low and it is useful to map out a cycling route optimally so that the sun does not constantly comes from the front or behind. Since cycling on solar energy looks to sailing on the wind this situation is comparable to sailing against the wind.

When the sun comes from behind, the front panel is in the shade, the solar power is then halved:

Solarbike shadow frontpanel
Solarbike shadow on frontpanel

To know the sun orientation over time, we can use the website SunCalc.

SunCalc shows the movement of the sun and sunlight-phase for a certain day at a certain place
SunCalc shows the movement of the sun and sunlight-phase for a certain day at a certain place

Solar cycling for dummies

  • Departure with a charged battery
  • Keep the motor power and solar power in balance
  • During a pause, turn the PV panels towards the sun
  • Prior to a pause you may use extra energy
  • Take sunny roads rather than shady roads if possible
  • A lower speed requires less power, even uphill
  • A little extra pedalling saves a lot of energy

Media

Zonnig bergopwaarts Limburger 14-12-2010
Zonnig bergopwaarts Limburger 14-12-2010

Telegraaf 18-12-2014
Telegraaf 18-12-2014

L1 Maastricht 10-1-2015
L1 Maastricht 10-1-2015

 

 

Do you have any comments about the website? Please let me know.