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Nazca Pioneer solar recumbent build

Right on! I wish my recumbent had more travel like yours on the front fork, but don't want to be leaning back any more than I already am.
 
Putting on the suspension fork definitely raised the front end, but then I put a too-big air shock in the back and that lifted the rear end too.
 
A big moment, the solar mounting is complete and I took the bike out for a spin! The full plan is to mount two panels, but I'll ride it like this for a few days to get a feel on how the bike handles with all this new stuff bolted on.

Just riding it for a couple miles, the added structure feels really solid. It's a windy day but I didn't feel any buffeting cruising at 20 mph, and nothing crazy happened taking speed bumps at 15. Full suspension doing its job 🙂

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Next up, wire in the MPPT controller so the solar panel actually does something. And come up with a jumbo mega kickstand.
 
When I built my first bike, I had little money, and a box of parts. Heres a pic of the moment it was first revealed.
It had a Mac midrive, which once oil cooled, perform really well.

I had visions of cross country travel, and designed it for that, though poverty limits much actual travel. Lol
I'm glad I was ignorant, as had I not been, I would have built a more standard style frame. This oddball, can carry tons of batteries, low, forward, and protected, as well as, on board chargers, controllers etc.
I have been running 20" wheels, and schinko tires, with a 3540, for a few yrs, with a huge tailbox, for my dog, and stuff. And a bob trailer for gear. About 350lbs all up.

Your build, and others like it,n has inspired me to not to just add solar, but some lightness as well.
To that end, I'm now running a 2705 front hub, and a 26" rear, powered by the original midrive. The midrive I'll mostly just ride along, until needed. Multiple gears are unecessarry, but available

My dog house, lol, is 20lbs lighter! No bob, another 20, using scwalbe pick ups instead of moto tires, etc.
Doing so I can easily manage the weight of panels, and mounts.
What prevents it is, worries about wind, and clumbsiness, I'm anxious to hears others experiences.
It appears as though the panels are likely to be damaged in a fall over, let alone a crash.

Are they tough enough? I can't imagine not having at least the occasional tip over, or collision, with a branch, or gate, or... It seems cool one minute, and overly complicated, and expensive, the next.
Another battery would be lighter, cheaper, lower, simpler, and far better protected. But I wanna try it anyway.
Sigh
 

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Forgive the poor finish, it was in the experimental stage! Or perhaps, just plain mental, is more appropriate, lol
 
k2orbust said:
A big moment, the solar mounting is complete and I took the bike out for a spin! The full plan is to mount two panels, but I'll ride it like this for a few days to get a feel on how the bike handles with all this new stuff bolted on.

Pretty sweet, i do wonder what happens with the aerodynamics of the panel at higher speeds.. i forget, did you plan to stick to 'bike ish' speeds?
 
Phasedout said:
It appears as though the panels are likely to be damaged in a fall over, let alone a crash.

...

Another battery would be lighter, cheaper, lower, simpler, and far better protected.

One day it's gonna tip over and I agree it will not be a pretty sight! I try to visualize what will break first and end up scratching my head. Probably the expensive and difficult to source solar panels 🙄

Just carrying more batteries is hands down a better solution as long as you're sure a wall plug is waiting for you. But who can resist the call of adventure and unknown destinations!
 
neptronix said:
k2orbust said:
Pretty sweet, i do wonder what happens with the aerodynamics of the panel at higher speeds.. i forget, did you plan to stick to 'bike ish' speeds?

Each of these solar vehicles is so unique that the only way to learn their behavior is by trying it out! Hopefully in a careful and progressive way...

With the panels on, implying I'm actually using the sun to recharge, there's not much reason to go above 20 mph. Higher speeds just reduce overall range in a day's ride.
 
marka-ee said:
Did you ever measure how many real watts the panels can produce for charge ? .

First full-sun power reading on my setup. 150 W nominal panel rating, 66° F clear day. Output dropped to 120 W as the panel warmed up.

When the second (identical) panel is installed we can expect power to double, of course.

Cruising to work at up to 30 mph the bike felt remarkably normal, no new shimmies or bobbles. I did find myself using more motor power for the same speed (compared to no panels) to overcome the added drag. The ride home will be windier (tailwind 😁) and we'll see how that feels.

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More proof two wheels plus overhead solar plus wind isn't an instant deathtrap. Riding pea gravel in a crosswind did take concentration tho! Not a great feeling on a recumbent with your feet so far from the ground.

This weekend I will slap on the second panel and we'll see how that changes things.
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Yippee, got the second panel mounted and wired in. This is what I have been pushing for since the beginning! At present my land yacht weighs in at 100.2 lb (52% front/48% rear).

All that's left is devising a kickstand, and fabricating the panel-tilting strut, and wiring in the taillight and the horn and the CycleAnalyst power switch.
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I envy the shade aspect!
Wondering if you can achieve a 'zero usage' speed where the solar provides just enough to go as fast as possible without using energy from battery. DD motors don't like going too slow though. Maybe 10 mph ? Curious.
 
marka-ee said:
I envy the shade aspect!
Wondering if you can achieve a 'zero usage' speed where the solar provides just enough to go as fast as possible without using energy from battery.

And the more you need shade, the more power you are getting!

Sometime I might try unplugging the battery and see what happens. The motor controller is set to back off if voltage drops below 45V, and the charge controller floats at 57 V if there is no load.
 
The solar panel tilting strut went on just like the CAD model, pretty tidy if I do say so! It deploys and stows with the same pins that hold the panel in place. This is for stationary charging and even then not if it's too windy!

In ten days I head out on the Sun Trip California tour with likeminded solar enthusiasts: https://www.thesuntrip.com/en/2022-sun-trip-america-test-edition/ For anyone in the SF Bay Area, there will be a little bike show and tell in Palo Alto on Monday, May 30.

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I did indeed take the bike on the Sun Trip's four-day ride from Palo Alto to Monterey and back, which was as much mobile ebike workshop as bike tour. As in, our lovingly handcrufted vehicles kept breaking down! My bike had no problems while riding, but did manage to tip over a couple of times while charging at the end of the day. For example, here we can see the bike leaned against a post with the panels tilted to catch sunset rays. The yellow ribbons show the wind is pushing the bike toward the post and all is well.
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A few minutes later I noticed the ribbons had reversed direction! As I was walking back to the bike it overbalanced and toppled:
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Falling twice this way, the panels were miraculously undamaged. The air resistance of these big panels reduces the speed of impact which helps. The upright struts (made of 3/4" x 1/16" thick aluminum angle) buckled on impact as we see here, but conveniently they are springy enough I can flex them straight to reassemble the flat panel configuration and keep on riding! 3/4" angle is also the cheapest and most easily-source raw material in the panel structure, so I'm pleased they are the first to fail.
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Here are some shots from the ride, with more at https://www.thesuntrip.com/2022-sun-trip-california/?fbclid=IwAR3tc8YpmLsBrpRbg2_yh1M4yfdS8NnAXUhWbQ0kyaXHTwxrI1b6mQl12yw

Six of eight riders in frame
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On Monterey's 17 Mile Drive
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Mount Madonna County Park campsite
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Riding the SF Bay Trail in a solid 20 mph crosswind without incident
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Very Impressive! :thumb:

A few bungees might help lash up the bike next time to avoid more toppling incidents.
 
At the beginning of the solar bike tour I gave this little overview of my ride to Ryan of Sol Mobil.

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As another Nazca Pioneer owner, I just got some new tires, 2.4 wide 'moto x' by the Schwalbe. Works wonders on the front, absorbs the small bumps like a dream. Odd thing was that it changed how the bike steers more than I expected, have to let my brain retune for this. Now the problem: It doesn't fit on rear, hits the yoke between the two forks. Bummer. So I am thinking of extending the dropouts, but I am nervous of that as it involves cutting off the old ones and TIG welding on a new set. Good part is I would make the vertical dropout slot be narrow so it would also act as a spin out stopper. What do you think ? I'd like to add about 1cm only..
 
You need to hear from Peterfr12, he's gone down that road. But I recall he went to a smaller sized rim even as he put on wider tires. My 26 x 2.15" tire (Schwalbe Pick-up 55-559) just barely fits in the rear fork and that's good enough for me.
 
Update: I commuted on the bike all summer and the solar worked great! I had a good place to lock it up outside, so after work each day it would be fully charged for the ride home and I never had to plug in. In October the sun angle changed so I wasn't getting a full charge at my parking spot, though, so I removed the panels and and have been riding on battery power alone. Cruising at 33 mph, I'd estimate the motor pulls 1700 watts with the aero drag of the panels, but only 1200 W without panels.

One shortcoming of the build is the two-pot hydraulic brakes and 180 mm rotors seem undersized for the full weight of the bike with panels. The front brake pads repeatedly got glazed, and I would have to sand them to get back the full braking force. This contributed to a crash in August when a car hooked in front of me without signaling and I couldn't stop in time 😬 I got off with a scraped knee, but the front panel got a crack in the carbon fiber at one of its mounting points. Output is unaffected, but surely the panel is weakened to some degree I will discover at a future date...
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The brake pad glazing seems to tie in to the way I was triggering regenerative braking, by squeezing the front brake lever ever-so-slightly while also feathering the throttle lever. I found a new technique to pull the brake sensor cable without touching the brake lever and it seems to have reduced the problem.

I installed the horn over the summer and a bell just a few days ago. The horn is good for venting against bad drivers, but it's very hard to modulate in a pedestrian-friendly way. Hence the bell, ding ding!
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Just a note on my Pioneer: I noticed a lot of movement in the headset when braking with front brake, or even rocking the bike back and forth with brake applied. Tightening the top headset adjuster seemed to help, but frustratingly no much. It turned out that the aluminum bottom pressed in bearing cup had fractured 'clean off' from the pressed in tube and was now not being properly supported axially! Horrible design, as I have mentioned my concern in this thread previously. I replaced the bottom bearing with a common sealed cartridge bearing unit, also made of aluminum. Nobody seems to make tapered bearing types any more unfortunatly, and the ball types may not withstand the large forces for very long I fear. I also bought an even cheaper bearing set, with the cups made of steel, but using caged bearings. The steel would be stronger, but I'll try the Al. one for now. I retained the top taper bearing set but for some reason it still has some excessive motion there after the repair job. Just a heads up.
 
Sorry to hear of your headset woes, @marka-ee! When I put the suspension fork in my frame I incorporated a Cane Creek headset with cartridge bearings, so I have not experienced that particular set of problems. The head tube is still very short of course, so we may yet see long term fatigue issues as you noted earlier.
 
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