If you’re now thinking of Homer Simpson’s car of the future, you’re getting closer, but there’s still a key problem with such a vision: Too much car.
Justin Lemire-Elmore and Anne-Sophie Rodet are driving a solar-electric rowbike from Lyon, France, to Tehran as part of the SunTrip 2018 e-bike rally.
The rally has actually set Guangzhou, China, as the destination point, but the Vancouver couple have a reason they’re not going to finish: They’re set to get married in August.
The SunTrip 2018 tour has a simple driving premise: The e-bikes entered can only charge their batteries using solar energy. To get to China, the riders can take any route they like – but they also don’t get to have a support vehicle following behind.
The route Lemire-Elmore and Rodet plan to take before heading home for their nuptials will pass through Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Iran.
Lemire-Elmore runs Vancouver’s GRIN Technologies, a small engineering firm that specializes in conversion kits for turning regular bicycles into electric-motor-powered two-wheelers.
In a post on GRIN’s website, the project to build the e-bike is described as a case of turning “a craigslist-trike purchase into the back-to-back-tandem-solar-electric-rowbike of our dreams.”
Lemire-Elmore founded the business more than a decade ago as a spinoff from the electric bike club at the University of British Columbia.
It’s a business that’s very well suited to his natural instincts, one of his co-workers explained. And so is the bike he and Rodet are riding.
Lemire-Elmore and GRIN’s focus is on promoting the utility of light, electric vehicles in our ever-densifying communities, Campbell explained. This trike may look crazy, but from their eyes, in a world where most people’s vehicles actually spend very little time outside of their local communities, it’s a case of “why not?”
“It’s about how we use the space better for getting around,” he said.