cycling on solar power

When preparing for this trip I made a rough calculation that I would need 3 panels to power my bicycle. At each stop I would set up the 3 panels aim them at the sun collecting between 120..200W (total output of 3 panels) depending on the suns intensity. While cycling I still collect some power from the top panel but this energy is only a very small portion (20..30%) of the total energy needed for the trip.

On average the calculation worked out well but it is still a challenge to get the most out of the available daylight. In optimum conditions (crisp blue sky, flat surface, straight path and no wind) 4 hours…

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Travelling with a recumbent bicycle

In France, Spain and Portugal recumbent bicycles are not very common and people often react very surprised. Comforably leaning backward, looking at the scenery and waving at surprised faces is a great expierence. 

For a long distance road trip a recumbent bicycle is a much better choice than a standard touring bicycle. It is almost as comfortable as a car seat and lets you enjoy the scenery without stressing any muscles. There is also less stress on the wrists, no saddle pains, and no need to wear special pants.

However, if you plan to cycle on narrow, gravel…

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Climate crisis

"We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making"

The above text is copied from Extinction Rebellion website, an international organisation calling for a rebellion against governments who have been too passive when it comes to climate change.

You may think these people are dramatising, just to get our attention, but personally I fear that they are right.  I believe the scientists who have been warning us for many years are right,  and also I believe what I see and the logic that growth…

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Tojeiro is a small hippie village in the mountains of the West Algarve. Rudolf and Katharina started their project in 2009 on idealistic ideas inspired by books like "Wu wei":

Rudolf explained to me that human kind has been living in small groups of up to 30 individuals for hundreds of thousands of years.This way of social living is still in our genes. Men and woman and children as a group, everybody takes care and does what he or she is best at.

He considers the traditional family an artificial invention from the…

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cycling in Portugal

Like most European countries there are not so many cycling paths in Portugal. Fortunately the roads are either very quiet or have a wide shoulder to cycle on. In general motorists drive responsibly and give much room to cyclists.  Most roads are paved with good quality asphalt except roads through villages which are often paved with the cobble stones which are less comfortable to cycle on.

If you think you can simply follow the official EuroVelo 1 (Atlantic roast route) through Portugal, think again. This route is not marked anywhere. To be precise during the whole trip I only saw a single EV1 marker close to Lissabon.

The suspension bridge across the Tagus in Lissabon is not for cyclists but you can…

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cycling in Spain

I was a bit afraid of cycling in Spain after what I heard : “there are no cycling paths and Spanish drive like crazy”. Well that's not true. The cities do have cycling paths and Spanish are very cautious on passing cyclists. Another pleasant surprise: there are many good roads that hardly have any traffic because there is a motorway going in the same direction. With so little traffic it is like cycling on the widest and best cycling path ever.

There are also some roads to avoid in Spain. One of them is is the N120 from Logrono…

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cycling in France

It was big surprise to me that there are so many long distance cyclepaths in France. I estimate that about 3/4 of my trip through France I was om cycepaths separated from motor-vehicles. Often these cyclepaths run along old railway lines or rivers and have moderate inclination and lots of shade. 

When cyclist do have to share the road with the cars there are traffic signs like this:

The only time I was nervous was crossing over a bridge in LeHavre where there was only a very narrow shoulder and many…

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Johan recommended to increase the size of my battery and I was glad I listened to him. There were those days that the sun just did not appear and I wanted to escape from places where I did not want to be; like overcrowded campings. At such moments that extra energy is very welcome.

My battery is made up of a 100 type 18650 cells. The 18650 cells format is the most common on the market and are used for laptops, bicycles and even cars. 10 cells in parallel and 10 of these banks in series. Such a configuration is sometimes called 10p10s.

Example 3p2s:

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charging station


After a day of cycling (and navigating) both my power bank and phone need to be recharged. Expecting to camp 'in the wild' without  wall sockets I made my own charging station. This station enables me to charge all my mobile devices from the cycling battery and leave a bunch of wall adapters at home. The fact that the charging station is fixed to the bicycle has another advantage: I will not be able to forget the charger at the campsite.

The energy needed for the charging station is only a very small portion (<1%)…

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Solar panels

Unlike panels that are normally used of roof of buildings the panels that I use are lighter and can flex a bit. The individual cells , encapsulated in very stiff plastic (ETFE) are made of Silicium, which is a material like glass thsat can break.

When this flex panel has no rigid underground it will break easily by for instance by hail stones. The result is very much reduced output. Johan experienced this. To inspect a panel for micro-cracks put a bright light behind it in a dark room and view the panel from the front. When you see micro cracks it is not good news for the panel. You may stil…

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Navigation system

The ideal navigation system for me would select the best and safest roads without distracting my attention from the traffic too much. Unfortunately I have not found such a system yet.

I started my journey with a Garmin Origon 700. This device enabled me to plan trip ahead on a laptop using Garmins planning software : Basecamp. Each day I would recharge two sets of AA batteries and connect the device to my laptop for loading routes that I planned.

It seems Garmin is phasing out Basecamp because the software…

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Cycling in the Netherlands

In june 2018 I tested my vehicle for the first time cycling to Friesland in the north of the Netherlands

foto : Areal Promos
Friesland is also famous for its 'Elfstedentocht' (Eleven City Tour) which is a large ice skating event that can only be held when the natural ice is thick enough to carry thousands of people. Unfortunately for all that love this event, it becoming less and less likely that it will repeated ever due to climate change. The Frisians however are adapting and are now organising tour of road vehicles and boats and even swimmers. Only vehicles that are driven without fossil fuel may participate of course.
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Electrical system

Because I am an electronic engineer I decided to buy a recumbent bicycle convert it to an electrical bicycle myself. I have designed all the electronic boards with exception of the motor-controller. Below is a schematic of the whole system electrical system:


PV panels : semi flexible solar panels (100Wpeak each) mounted on aluminium frame, source Ali-express

MPPT : this device boosts the voltage from the panels (~15V) to a higher voltage (~40V) for charging the battery. It also adjusts the current drawn from each panel so it will give highest possible output.…

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Johans Solar Trike

Johan is a friend who build his own solar powered tricycle. This is his personal contribution to my blog:

40 years ago Sir Clive Sinclair, an English inventor, was far ahead of his time with his 'C5'. He designed and manufactured a single person vehicle that was driven by an electric motor combined with muscle power. The basic technology that was available to him was not as good as it is today. He had to use lead batteries instead of Lithium batteries. A 1kWh in a lead battery would weigh about 25kg, while today the same energy can be stored in…

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