It’s never surprising to see innovative cycling ideas come from The Netherlands, a country that’s globally known for using bikes as their primary mode of urban transportation. Hailing from Maastricht, inventor Albert Van Dalen has designed and built this solar-powered electric bike, called the Maxun One.
His bike was recently spotted by Bikerumor staff over on gas2.org, and we thought this eco-friendly, forward-thinking idea was worth a closer look and worth sharing with our readers. Its rudimentary look may not win any beauty contests, but this eco-friendly concept has proven fully functional, which begs the question of how far it can go as we pursue the technological goals of making things smaller, lighter, more integrated, and more efficient…
Van Dalen’s solar bike can achieve speeds up to 15mph/25km/h, and apparently is quite natural to handle despite the large flat photovoltaic panels attached front and rear. The panels’ supports are said to be strong enough for riding on rough roads. They’re not as heavy as they might appear and sit level so the wind won’t push against them and blow the rider around too much.
Their creator says the Maxun One is nearly as light as a standard road-going bike, but with the complete bike weighing 38lbs/17kg I suspect he’s comparing it to a commuter. Still, with just a small battery, front hub motor, all electronics, and 2 solar panels, that weight is impressive – and considerably less than many other city e-bikes that rely on large, heavy battery packs.
Van Dalen says his bike still works on semi-cloudy days due to the efficient panels and a small battery that stores a bit of extra juice. You never have to remove or replace batteries on the Maxun One for recharging, it’s constantly soaking in energy from the sun and always ready to ride. With ample sunlight, the solar panels can fully recharge the reserve battery in about an hour.
Like most e-bikes the Maxun One is designed to share the workload with the rider, but on a sunny summer day it can produce enough power to ride without pedalling (approx. 160-200w) for a distance of 100kms or more. The motor is controlled by a throttle unit with up/down buttons to adjust its output.
Van Dalen’s website recommends using the motor according to how much sunlight you have available, taking the sunniest routes possible, orienting the panels towards the sun during stops, and advises that lower assist levels draw less power.
One obvious quirk with the Maxun One is while it’s claimed to be ‘always ready to ride’ you’d have to leave the bike outdoors to ensure your battery is charged. At the workplace this could makes sense, but at home most people keep their bikes locked up in their garage or shed. As for damage or vandalism, the solar panels can be removed quickly but carrying them in and out of work would hardly be convenient, and then they wouldn’t get charged up.
Van Dalen hopes to sell his idea to a manufacturer, and is currently developing a high-efficiency mid-drive motor to replace the front hub unit on the prototype seen here. No details on pricing or timeline for availability have been announced.