Major upgrade of last year’s solar trike

After having worked on my new solar trike, it was time to go back to my first prototype I have used last year.

These are the  areas that needed to be upgraded:

solar panels: the old ones (2x100w) were performing very badly, from initial 155w I have seen when I first started using them down to 80w at the end of the season.

panels mounting frame:I have already repaired ‘on the road’ the old aluminium structure but it was still not robust enough to carry the weight of the solar panels without damaging the cells for the vibrations/shocks received.

gear ratios: after having suffered a lot in the Alps last year I needed to revise the set up in order to facilitate the climbing capabilities of the bike.

So here below are the main activities that have been carried on to improve these three areas.

1) Solar Panels 

Having had very good experience with the solar panels (from LinkSolar) I installed on the STT2, I decided to buy also the new ones from the same supplier.

The format of the old ones were 5×6 but I decided to get a slightly larger layout of 6×6: in this way the total length remained the same, only the width went from 65 to 80cm.

Here we can see the different solar panel solution of both bikes: 

– on the left the new STT2 with tilting panels 

– on the right the STT with (fixed) old panels

Here are the new solar panels just arrived: notice the new format 6×6 I have requested and that was specifically produced for my order!

The nominal peak power is announced to be 130W per solar panel

2) – Solar panels structure

Since I decided to upgrade my solar panels I have also planned to have them installed on a “tilting frame” as I have already implemented on the new STT2 bike.

And as a further challenge I wanted to use carbon fiber for this mounting structure instead of aluminium.

The sizes are as follows:

– the center carbon fiber axle is 160cm long with a 32cm diameter

– the square carbon fiber tubes are 80cm long with a 20x20mm section

Here below are some of the most significant steps to build the new mounting structure.

  • first lay out of both solar panels
  • first carbon fiber square tubes to be cut and prepared
  • Here all 7 square tubes are in place: the structure is ready to be installed on the bike
  • here are the new vertical supports to allow the tilting rotation and the main cylindrical (carbon fiber) axle
  • front right view of new support panels structure
  • here the solar panels structure is mounted on the new supports on the bike frame

3) – Gear ratios

Last but not least I have replaced:

– the front 52 teeth chainring with a 50 teeth one.

– the 11 speed cassette 11-32 with a 11-34.

With above set up the bike is much more agile and still the max speed I can reach is around 50km/h.

The combination of a smaller chainring and a bigger cassette, even if it’s only 2 teeth, is really very beneficial.

I am sure that on steep hills now I’ll be able to climb more easily and with less risk to overheat the “direct drive” hub motor.

The actual results in few weeks! 

This is how the upgraded bike looks like.

In one of my next posts I will also report on the first test of these new Solar panels: I can just anticipate that they seem to really deliver the expected performances!

  • view from the front with solar panels completely tilted
  • capturing the last sunshine….from the front
  • ….and from the back!
  • first tests to verify that the new solar panels structure is solid and keeps the selected position.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. daniele g

    Hi, thanks for the appreciation!
    I wanted to replace the old panels leaving the same overall length, roughly 160cm
    At the same time, to increase solar production, I have decided to get 6 cells in stead of 5 in terms of width.
    I could have perhaps increased also the overall length, but I think that with 260W I should have enough.
    The cost of each panel is around 250 USD.

  2. Zakaria El Rifai

    Hello Daniele, Happy to see you have new solar panels. Just a question how much does each panel cost and why not opt for a 3rd panel.

  3. Zakaria El Rifai

    Hello Daniele, Happy to see you are working on the trike. I like the new solar panels, i wonder how much they cost and if i may ask why you do not choose to put three instead of two?

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