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Published on June 17th, 2009 | by Jerry James Stone

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8th Grader Builds Solar-Powered Bike With GPS, iPod Dock

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Eighth-grader David S. Dixon–along with his dad David G. Dixon–has built a street-legal quadricycle powered by a solar-charged electric motor. The bike not only carries his dog and three friends, but it has also has an iPod dock and GPS. Ya, it’s that cool!

Coined as the Solar Human Hybrid (SOHH), the vehicle was launched as part of David Jr.’s middle school project for the Novato Charter School.

David Jr. told Gas2.org that  “I watched my dad install solar panels at home, I have had an interest in them ever since.  I have had electric remote controlled cars, boats and helicopters that I would always take apart – and usually getting them back together with some kind of improvement.” David Sr. confirmed that “even his pinewood derby car in cub scouts back when he was 8 or 9 had LED taillights and headlights and ended up getting exhibited at the Marin County Fair.”

The vehicle’s Scott 24-volt motor provides 1 horsepower and it has a top speed of 14 mph. First geared to 18 mph, but it was then re-geared to provide enough torque for making steeper hills.

The SOHH uses GreenSaver Silicone Gel Cell batteries. The batteries, iPod, and GPS are all fed by 20-watt solar panels. They used a small motor as to keep pedal-power the priority for the bike. By doing so, the battery remained light-weight and the solar panels a reasonable size.

The base vehicle used, and the priciest part of the project, was a Switzerland-built ZEM (Zero Emission Machine) 4cycle. It’s made out of an aluminum frame and each rider can pedal at their own pace. In fact, the 4cycle took 3rd place at the human powered vehicle world championships at Interlaken, Switzerland.

And while the ZEM 4cycle is no longer produced,  they got one from a dealer in Maryland who purchased the last 3 from the US distributor. It cost them $3,900.

“[The SOHH] has replaced our cars for errands around town, and it has grown into more than we envisioned with a lot of interest from the community,” David Dixon Sr. told Wired.com.

And for the win, they documented the project on their website with all parts and schematics so that anyone can build one. They don’t plan to mass produce the vehicle but would love it if someone else does. Though David Sr. did express an interest in updating the bike with a lighter battery “such as lithium polymer, but no budget for it yet.”

Of course, we’d love to see that too. But I had to ask if the dog actually rides in the SOHH.

David Sr. told us “Not really, but she [Mimzy] would rather come along than be left behind.”

Source: Wired.com and The SOHH Project


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About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.



  • john s

    I think in 8th grade I made a baking soda volcano.

  • john s

    I think in 8th grade I made a baking soda volcano.

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  • http://www.webwallpapers.net/ Wallpaper

    Wow, it’s pretty crazy how smart kids are now a-days. Soon they will flying into space for school trips.

  • http://www.webwallpapers.net/ Wallpaper

    Wow, it’s pretty crazy how smart kids are now a-days. Soon they will flying into space for school trips.

  • http://www.webwallpapers.net/ Wallpaper

    Wow, it’s pretty crazy how smart kids are now a-days. Soon they will flying into space for school trips.

  • Pingback: 8th Grader Builds a Solar-Powered Bike - Beast Toast

  • http://www.gaynorthcarolina.com/ Mike Hom O’Hendry

    Wow, that kid’s dad is pretty smart. Not sure why the story includes any mention of the kid. I can’t see that he was responsible for any part of it, except front man.

  • http://www.gaynorthcarolina.com/ Mike Hom O’Hendry

    Wow, that kid’s dad is pretty smart. Not sure why the story includes any mention of the kid. I can’t see that he was responsible for any part of it, except front man.

  • Larry

    That’s an incredibly misleading title. Unless, by “8th Grader Builds Solar Powered Bike” you meant to type “kid and dad buy a bike and attach some solar panels and a box to it”. That’s a pretty easy typo…

  • Larry

    That’s an incredibly misleading title. Unless, by “8th Grader Builds Solar Powered Bike” you meant to type “kid and dad buy a bike and attach some solar panels and a box to it”. That’s a pretty easy typo…

  • Eric

    That’s 2 more wheels than usual for a bike… Oh, you mean its NOT a bike?!

  • Eric

    That’s 2 more wheels than usual for a bike… Oh, you mean its NOT a bike?!

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  • http://whatareyouwatching.uni.cc Television Spy

    Wow that’s very impressive.

  • http://whatareyouwatching.uni.cc Television Spy

    Wow that’s very impressive.

  • Misdirected

    Uhhh… Let me see:

    1.) Rich dad buys expensive quadricycle

    2.) Spoiled kid asks dad to pimp said quadricycle

    3.) Rich dad pimps the quadricycle, or at the very least, provides all necessary components and instructions

    4.) Spoiled kid takes credit for rich dad’s toy

    5.) Profit?

  • Misdirected

    Uhhh… Let me see:

    1.) Rich dad buys expensive quadricycle

    2.) Spoiled kid asks dad to pimp said quadricycle

    3.) Rich dad pimps the quadricycle, or at the very least, provides all necessary components and instructions

    4.) Spoiled kid takes credit for rich dad’s toy

    5.) Profit?

  • taylor

    this kid has no friends… its pretty obvious

  • taylor

    this kid has no friends… its pretty obvious

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  • http://filesmixx.com Erik

    Wow, it’s pretty crazy how smart kids are now a-days. Soon they will flying into space for school trips..

  • http://filesmixx.com Erik

    Wow, it’s pretty crazy how smart kids are now a-days. Soon they will flying into space for school trips..

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  • Pingback: 8th grader builds four-passenger-plus cargo solar/human powered bicycle

  • Pingback: Solar Quadricycle that transports 3 people with ample room for luggage « Linux and Friends

  • meg

    ok if the 8th grader can do it then why cant the gov…

    bc its all about big business

  • meg

    ok if the 8th grader can do it then why cant the gov…

    bc its all about big business

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  • http://buygreengasoline.com Buy Green Gasoline

    This is the coolest invention ever! Thank you David for being a pioneer for your generation.

    And for people who do not want to spend money on gas, we invented an alternative: save gasoline, and the environment with Buy Green Gasoline. You put it in your tank, and it costs under $5. You use less gasoline, need less oil changes, use your same car, and your emissions burns cleaner. Yes, you can do it right now. buygreengasoline.com

  • http://buygreengasoline.com Buy Green Gasoline

    This is the coolest invention ever! Thank you David for being a pioneer for your generation.

    And for people who do not want to spend money on gas, we invented an alternative: save gasoline, and the environment with Buy Green Gasoline. You put it in your tank, and it costs under $5. You use less gasoline, need less oil changes, use your same car, and your emissions burns cleaner. Yes, you can do it right now. buygreengasoline.com

  • Nautanki

    Stupid story. Waste of money.

    Rich people’s cheap publicity stunt to gain media attention.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Grow up kids.

  • Nautanki

    Stupid story. Waste of money.

    Rich people’s cheap publicity stunt to gain media attention.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Grow up kids.

  • http://www.x5gps.com robert Quinn

    That is great, I need to get one for my kid.

    http://www.x5gps.com/gps_navigation_system.aspx

  • http://www.x5gps.com robert Quinn

    That is great, I need to get one for my kid.

    http://www.x5gps.com/gps_navigation_system.aspx

  • Clyde Ehrhardt

    Gee: The Wright Bro’s owned a bicycle Shop and built the first flying machine, We call aircraft now. They must have been rich kids too. Would it have been more amaizing if the Child was homeless and without a father, and lived in the Bronx. It is not how much money you have but what you do with your money. You and I would not be sending this message if it were not for another rich kid, Bill Gates. David Jr is my Grandson and I am Damn Proud of him and His father and Mother .

  • Clyde Ehrhardt

    Gee: The Wright Bro’s owned a bicycle Shop and built the first flying machine, We call aircraft now. They must have been rich kids too. Would it have been more amaizing if the Child was homeless and without a father, and lived in the Bronx. It is not how much money you have but what you do with your money. You and I would not be sending this message if it were not for another rich kid, Bill Gates. David Jr is my Grandson and I am Damn Proud of him and His father and Mother .

  • http://www.small-icons.com/ web icons

    I usually commit those mistakes especially when in front of the computer where I don’t really think of anything else but what’s on the screen.thnx

  • http://martinjulius@gmail.com martinjulius

    Post-check.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/joborras/ Jo Borras

      Pre-check?

  • http://martinjulius@gmail.com martinjulius

    Uhhh… Let me see:

    1.) Rich dad buys expensive quadricycle

    Rich dads have to be good for something too.

    2.) Spoiled kid asks dad to pimp said quadricycle

    But what is it you’ve said hasn’t spoiled so far?

    3.) Rich dad pimps the quadricycle, or at the very least, provides all necessary components and instructions

    Said pimping of a mechanical object as a concept has a dangerously diverting aspect for persons such as you and yours. Do you think you wouldn’t be safer swangin’ from poles? Will you wish you had pedals under your feet when the whole world takes its last look at you- spinnin’ free and sure and for the love of the proles?

    4.) Spoiled kid takes credit for rich dad’s toy

    foiled rig spills concrete in detected ditch of bad li’l half-bitch-boys

    5.) Profit?

    A pile of rectangular papers stained and sticky brown. Render Ceasar unto Ceasar’s is the new prophecy clown.

    Source: Gas 2.0 (http://s.tt/12zYK)

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