Solar power is a driving force for this 61-year-old electronic engineer from Kozhikode. Hasty motorists can often spot him in the city on a hybrid bicycle which he rides quite smoothly.
Samuel Jones, the creative engineer, never pedals this bicycle that runs on solar energy.
The bicycle that can run up to 6 km without any other energy source has already won him several admirers. It starts like an electric scooter, moves without any noise and reaches the destination at zero expense. He says that capacity can be increased by fitting additional solar panels.
Mr. Jones’ bicycle makes use of two small solar panels—one at the front and the other at the rear. The panels do not spoil the beauty of the bicycle and they almost resemble the conventional carriers.
An accelerator is there on the handle to control the speed, besides all other necessary accessories of a typical bicycle.
It took Mr. Jones a year to complete alteration on an Ampere bicycle (angel model) purchased from Chennai at Rs.22,000. On completion, it had every feature of a standard bicycle that can run on solar energy.
Mr. Jones says the alternation can be made cost-effective if one used own mechanism to design the parts and solar panels.
“One can get two small panels at Rs.1,000. An additional panel can be fitted at just Rs.500 if the owner wants an additional 3-km ride,” he says.
On a mission
He has not approached any big firms to popularise it as he is now on a mission to convince people directly by riding it in the city roads. Now, the bicycle has a capacity to produce 60 Watt electricity from the panels and can cover six km at a time.
As an additional option, a fully charged battery, too can be fitted on the bicycle to use it during emergency situations.
A flip side, as Mr. Jones points out, is that pedalling of this hybrid variety is a difficult task as mechanical components have taken over the manual cycling function.