A Guinness World Records holder for longest journey on a motorized bicycle ride is spreading awareness about the benefits of clean energy.
Sushil Reddy, founder of The SunPedal Ride, and his partner, Luis Fourzan, stopped at the University of Jamestown campus Monday, Oct. 4, to show off the solar-powered bicycle being used for The SunPedal Ride USA Cross Country 2021 Edition.
Reddy, who holds the record for longest journey on a motorized bicycle that was achieved in India in 2016, has an energy engineering background and works with solar energy in India. He said the ride aims to promote the use of solar energy by showcasing technology to charge the electric bike. He said one of the best renewable energy resources is solar power.
“So far we have done so many miles without physical effort and using the power of the sun,” he said.
Climate disasters and extreme weather events are in the news because of climate change, he said.
“We have to be careful of using the existing resources and also try to use more renewable energy resources as compared to nonrenewable energy resources like coal, oil and natural gas,” Reddy said.
Reddy is traveling with Fourzan, who is a lawyer and has a master’s degree in sustainable energy. They have traveled 2,200 of the 6,498 miles in 50 days and were next heading to Steele, North Dakota.
Fourzan is a partner with green energy financial company Rayema in Mexico that develops small solar projects. He said The SunPedal Ride is a good opportunity for him to network and spread the awareness of renewable energy resources while he gains more knowledge of what other cities, institutions and governments are doing with renewable energy.
The SunPedal ride began Aug. 15 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is scheduled to finish in early December in Houston. Reddy and Fourzan traveled through New York City, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Minneapolis and Fargo before coming through Jamestown. The two will travel through Bozeman, Montana, Seattle and San Diego before heading to Houston.
Reddy said the electric bicycle has two solar panels from California-based SunPower that hold 50 watts of electricity each for a maximum of 100 watts of solar power. The electric bicycle is a Yuba Boda Boda all-terrain cargo bicycle that is retrofitted with an all-axle front hub motor and LiGo batteries from GRIN Technologies, according to The SunPedal Ride’s website.
Reddy said the battery capacity is approximately 300 watt hours. The solar panels act as an extra battery on a good, sunny day when the battery is fully charged in about four to five hours.
“It gives the range of 35 to 40 miles (of travel distance) just using solar power on a good, sunny day,” he said.
Reddy rides the solar-powered bicycle, and Fourzan rides a regular electric bicycle.
He said the output reduces a little bit on a cloudy day. On a bad, dreary day, it is “just extra weight” on the bicycle.
“Even on cloudy days the output is there, but it takes a longer time for the battery to charge,” he said. “It’s not that the solar panels don’t work at all in the cloudy weather. They do work, but the charging is slower.”
They chose the solar panels, which charge the battery during travel, from SunPower because they are very lightweight acrylic and efficient.
The bicycle also includes Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and Ortlieb waterproof pannier bags. The electric bicycle was assembled by Sol Mobil out of Winston-Salem.
The bicycle has two modes for riding -- pedal assist and throttle. Reddy has to pedal to get the motor started in pedal mode, and the bicycle acts much like a motorbike in throttle mode.
Reddy uses pedal mode so he and Fourzan can travel about 70 miles per day.
Reddy and Fourzan track how much power is left in the battery, weather, elevation and how much distance they are going to cover to balance how much physical effort will be used versus battery power.
Reddy and Fourzan also collect data such as battery voltage, speed, input of human power and wattage from the solar panels that they are receiving. At the end of the SunPedal Ride, they will analyze how the solar panels give an advantage to the bicycle compared to a normal electric bicycle.
Fourzan said he is thinking about doing projects such as public policy in Mexico or sustainable transportation in cities. He said cities have been introducing electric bicycles for food deliveries within a 5-mile radius.
“Also for work commuting, if you are traveling 5 to 10 miles, you can easily go with one solar panel only, get all full charges during the day and then go back to your house,” he said.
To read more about The SunPedal Ride, visit www.thesunpedalride.com.