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NTS SunCycle gets a little help from above

By

February 7, 2014

The NTS SunCycle charges its battery using a built-in solar panel

The NTS SunCycle charges its battery using a built-in solar panel

Image Gallery (9 images)

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 ā€“ 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.

The bicycle itself tips the scales at 68 lb (31 kg)

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

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
8 Comments

Another waste of time. Why is it that every bike that appears on Gizmag is ridiculously overpriced? Who is going to spend $3,900 on a bike? You can buy a really good quality secondhand VAN for that. This is just ridiculous.

packoftwenty
7th February, 2014 @ 04:09 pm PST

packoftwenty,

Head over to bicycling.com and look at their bike review section. Prepare to be shocked by the number of bikes priced at over $10,000 and even approaching $20,000. You'd be surprised at how many people "spend $3,900 (and more) on a bike." This bike is certainly overpriced for its purpose, but just because you've never heard of expensive bikes doesn't mean others don't buy them.

Gadgeteer
8th February, 2014 @ 10:31 am PST

3900 bucks for a high-quality, electric, cargo-bike (w/ solar) sounds like a good deal. Saying you could buy a ____ for the same price doesn't mean anything.

I'd like to know whether or not this thing is being made in Santa Cruz California or if they are importing these things. Didn't see anything about where these are manufactured on their website.

Milton
8th February, 2014 @ 07:04 pm PST

That is nice SunCycle with box but I wish the price is not too expensive so it will be used by everyone easily :)

Marianadj
10th February, 2014 @ 08:29 am PST

Overall this is a good start even while being, too big, heavy, and expensive.

For this much money I can easily buy a small used car or small pickup and have lots of cash left over. Furthermore, these people must be pretty good at the electrical design part because they very clearly have never heard of aerodynamics or design style.

StWils
10th February, 2014 @ 11:41 am PST

They could also set up a 100% green electricity hook up with those power companies that only generate energy from air, wind, sun.

Green Mountain Energy is my choice.

Dan Lewis
10th February, 2014 @ 11:51 am PST

@ StWils - This is a cargo bike, not a racing cycle. Aerodynamics are not part of the design. This bike will never need to be aero anyway; it won't go that fast. And that "lots of cash left over" will be going into the gas tank on that pickup. It's a choice.

I agree with Gadeteer - The price doesn't surprise me, in the sense of packoftwenty's "spend(ing) $3,900 on a bike?" which implies nobody should pay this much for a bike. Lots of people spend this much, and more, on a bike. I have more expensive bikes at home. But, again I agree with Gageteer, that this particular bike seems over-priced. I think you should be able to similar-spec cargo bike, add a locking top case, and electrical assist kit with a solar panal for less. But you'd have to do all the integration yourself, so you'll need some skills. You also lose the benefit of a one-stop repair shop and global warranty. So maybe the peace of mind and convenience is worth a bit extra?

Concerning cost, the calculation that people, like myself, make when choosing a bike is the cost over time considering the bike should last your lifetime (barring electrics, of course), require very inexpensive servicing and no fuel costs compared to buying and operating a gasoline-powered vehicle for the same job. That's the cost - to - cost calculation you need to look at. If you still find the price "ridiculous", then don't buy it. It's the wrong choice for you. Maybe you need a vehicle which hauls more, goes faster, whatever. But that "used van" you're considering is going to cost you a lot more over, say, 10 or 15 years of use than this machine (barring electrical failure of course :-).

duh3000
14th February, 2014 @ 06:01 am PST

I just went back to the Gizmag "2x4 Cargo Bike" article from last September, the one mentioned in this article from the same builders.

They were asking $4,800 for that bike which is, unless I'm missing something, the same bike but without the cargo box and solar panal.

Sounds like they need to get their pricing sorted out.

Aside from the price issue, I find the bike's looks grow on you (well, me). I like the tubing choices and geometry. I also like the white & wood theme. But not the 31 kilo weight that it all adds up to !

duh3000
15th February, 2014 @ 01:39 pm PST
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