April 17, 2008 Featuring an adjustable streamlined solar panel on the front stem, the Sunny Day compact solar electric bicycle design by Larry Chen recently took out the Grand Prize in the 12th annual International Bicycle Design Competition.
In what is perhaps a glimpse at the future of short-distance urban commuting, the solar-panel integrated into the Sunny Day design reduces wind resistance when on the move and and when the bicycle is parked, the "synchronal sync- linking system" allows the solar panel to face upwards to make the most of the sun's energy.
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The overall aim is facilitate an easily stored vehicle that can be taken on public transport and is largely free of the grid, eliminating the need to plug in for the recharging of on-board batteries. It's not clear how successfully the design will achieve the latter objective, but like some of the other efforts to combine solar power with two wheeled transport that we've encountered (from the DIY solar scooter to the radical sunRED drawing-board concept), it's an idea that will undoubtedly be explored as alternative means of single-person transport are developed in years to come.
The first Taiwanese designer to take out the IBDC award, Mr Chen has a background in aeronautical engineering and has been active in the Taiwanese bike industry for more than 10 years.