Hey, I’m a big fan of solar energy. I own a nifty folding solar panels kit that keeps all my electronic gadgets juiced. But I’ve got to hand it to the nine members of the Hatch Family from South Pasadena. They use a solar bicycle to get around. No fooling! They are saving a fortune in gasoline bills and helping the ecology at the same time. Hunter, in fourth grade, gets ridden to school on the bike, wearing a helmet and garnering lots of attention. Apparently, everyone wants to ride the thing, and he is constantly asked about in class.
You can pedal the bike, but it also gives you a solar-powered assist when you need it, thanks to the same type of solar panels that power a house. They are connected to a battery that drives a duct-tape-covered extra wheel. The duct tape provides extra traction to prevent wheel spinning. Hunter’s father, Brent, came up with idea of modifying his four-seat, four-wheel Suri bike because his family couldn’t provide all the pedal power to climb a steep hill. The bicycle, which is really more of a carriage, just weighs too much to go uphill gracefully, no matter how hard the passengers pedal.
When they need extra power, Brent turns a motorcycle handle that he attached, engages the fifth wheel and cruises along at up to ten miles per hour. Phelicia Hatch tells of an episode when a sad-looking gentleman riding the bus caught site of the Hatchs riding alongside and gave them a big smile, waving happily. This bike makes people happy, no doubt about it. Brent likes it so much that he rides it to houses he is showing in his capacity as a realtor. He acknowledges that most realtors show up in fancy cars, but he thinks this makes a better impression.
Phelicia uses the bike every day to perform errands. She is well known at the post office and the local McDonald’s drive-thru. The workers there are always full of questions, and they are not “would you like to supersize your fries?” Some people are reduced to speechlessness, instead just staring with that “what’s happening?” look on their faces. The Hatchs are living proof that solar technology really works and saves money. Perhaps that’s why so many people are investing in new solar chargers and gadgets – they are fun and efficient. Nice job, Hatch Family!