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Outback adventure solar-powered recumbent trike

May 14, 2023 — BarryK

This is something that I have dreamed about for years. I have an e-bike with a 200W motor, and there are 200W solar panels available, so it seems like a good match.

It is a question of implementation. How to mount the solar panel on the bike?

For sometime I have had in mind that it would be feasible with a recumbent bike, as the rider sits very low. A canopy on top could have one or more solar panels. Surely someone, somewhere, has thought about this and actually built it?

Yes, they have. A few people have built canopies over recumbent trikes, with solar panels. I found a young couple who built a canopy over an Azub recumbent trike, about a year ago, and traveled outback Australia. Youtube video:

The guy is riding a trike without suspension, while hers has full suspension, front and rear. As far as I can make out, they built a custom solar canopy and charging on an Azub trike.

I was using keywords to search in Google, and came across this, made by Motrike:


...somewhat different, but the same idea.

Azub have documented the young couple's trike adventure around Australia. Here is a blog post, Feb. 23 this year:


Real nice that it isn't required to be registered, so no expense in that regard. If the sun is shining, well, no fuel or recharging required either, just keep going all day.

Now that is something I would love to do!

EDIT 2023-05-14:
Here is a photo from 7 months ago, Motrike have modified the framing of their Trikexplor 320E-Solar trike:


...that has a 500W motor, which is not legal in Australia. They also sell a quad (4 wheel) variant, which would also be illegal in Australia (though I am not sure about all States). In Australia, an unregistered bike must have pedal-assisted motor up to 250W. Apart from starting off, it is illegal here to be cruising along solely powered by the battery -- the rider must be seen to be pedaling, even if only applying nominal extra power -- the police have actually fined people for not pedaling! The police have even been known to check the power rating on motors.

Here are some videos of the TrikExplor 320E-Solar:

And the older design:

It looks like it only has rear suspension. I have contacted the company and asked if it is possible to build one with full suspension, front and rear. About 3 years ago, they did have a S320E variant, electric with full suspension -- the "S" means suspension, it is not the solar model. Maybe they won't be interested in doing a one-off build, as it might require some retooling. I want to be able to ride it on rough gravel roads, and I suppose front fat tyres might be an alternative.

EDIT 2023-05-14:
The young couple started their Aussie adventure in 2021 and finished in February 2023 in Albany Western Australia, having traveled 11,000km! News report: 

EDIT 2023-05-17:
Have ordered the 320E-Solar. The electronic engineer in me is quite excited, as it has a 500W motor and I will need to reduce it to 250W to be legal. Also intending to reduce the size of the solar panel. Will post progress to this blog.

EDIT 2023-05-19:
Here are some follow-up blog posts:       

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