Although electric bikes definitely are more eco-friendly than exhaust-spewing cars, some people quite rightly point out that the electricity used to charge their batteries typically comes from not-so-green sources such as coal-burning power plants. That's why Santa Cruz-based NTS Works created its NTS SunCycle pedelec cargo bike. Unveiled this Wednesday, it features an integrated photovoltaic panel that's reportedly capable of fully charging the bike's battery within eight hours.

The 60-watt panel is located on the lid of the cargo box, adding 2 lb (907 g) to the weight of the bike. It utilizes noncrystalline solar cells, and is said to be over 19 percent efficient.

While it's likely that many users won't be able to regularly leave their bike out in the sun for eight hours at a time, they also won't necessarily always be charging the battery from empty, nor will they require a full charge for all trips. In the event that they do require a faster charge, the battery can still be juiced up from a regular electrical outlet as well.

Like NTS' existing 2X4 Cargo Bike, this model has a 250-watt hub motor in its front wheel. This means that when the rider is pedaling and chooses to engage the electric assist, the bike has two-wheel drive – a handlebar-mounted display lets them choose the amount of assistance provided. The 36-volt, 14.3-Ah lithium-ion battery provides a claimed average range of 25 miles (40 km) per charge.

Other features include a Gates Carbon belt drive, a sealed 8-speed Shimano Alfine internal gear hub, and an NTS-specific linkage system that allows the cargo bike to be steered more like a regular bicycle. The lockable front compartment can carry up to 100 pounds (45 kg), and the bicycle itself tips the scales at 68 lb (31 kg).

The NTS SunCycle should begin shipping in May, and is currently available for preorder. It's priced at US$3,900, and can be seen in action in the video below. NTS Works, incidentally, is run by the same people who founded electric vehicle company Zero Motorcycles.

... and if you're interested in a somewhat larger form of solar-assisted human-powered transportation, you might want to also look at the ELF velomobile.

Source: NTS Works