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Solar-powered quad bike best way to travel

Sunday 3 Jan 2010 4:18 p.m.

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By Dave Goosselink

It's a bicycle made for two - plus a dog - and it's built for summer.

A Hamilton couple are riding their solar-powered quad bike around holiday spots in the South Island.

Lisa Pavreal sits in front, blind husband Verne pedals behind, and his guide dog trots alongside.

Mr Pavreal doesn't mind riding backwards. He sits back-to-back with his wife, who leads from the front of the dual pedal-powered cycle.

"We are travelling at a much slower speed so we get to see... well, I get to see so much more, Verne gets to smell it," says Ms Pavreal.

This is their fifth summer ride, and each year they've added a bit more onto the bike. Their latest enhancement is a solar panel on the roof, powering a small motor to help push them up the hills.

"Solar panel trickle charges the battery, so if we use the motor for an hour we'd have to use the panel for four hours, so it's a very small assist but on hills it's a help," says Mr Pavreal.

But like the couple themselves, it does get overheated.

"The motor does more than both of us, but then it doesn't do any navigating, and it doesn't have the stamina that we do either," says Mr Pavreal.

Guide dog zara has her own trailer behind the bike, but enjoys walking alongside the couple on the easier sections.

"Verne won't believe me but I actually chose what I thought was one of the flatter routes that we could take," says Ms Pavreal. "I knew this big bump was here, and I know there's another big bump down the road."

The ever-changing summer weather is another challenge.

"The wind has been a bit of a killer actually," says Mr Pavreal. "It's flattened the battery a fair bit and exhausted us, and the sun hasn't been there either. I think some other summers we've been down here it would have been great, but this year? Yes, it's a challenge."

They're aiming to finish up in Gore later this week, but are already planning the next trip, with a bigger motor high on their wish list.

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