Encouraged by yesterdays progress with the solar kit, I spent most of today finishing off the wiring and packing it all into a plastic box. I then paired down my kit list somewhat (out goes the Nokia N800 and spare mobile phone, two pairs of underwear, one of the t-shirts, the multimeter and a pair of trousers) and loaded everything up on the bike to see what sort of weight I was dealing with. The total wight of the bike and kit together (that’s biking, camping and computing gear) comes to 55KG. I have some food and bits and pieces to add to that so lets call it 60KG. Considering the bike weighs 25Kg that means I’m going to be carrying a 35Kg office. I took the bike for a ride and it seems pretty stable although I am a little worried about brake failure. I only have a back-pedal brake and while its very good I’m in serious trouble if it fails. I’m thinking about getting front brakes fitted this week. I also notice a small S in the back wheel. Its out of alignment and I hope that it can be brought true again by a local bike shop. If not, I’m probably in trouble and might have to switch bikes. I don’t want to do that as I really like FK398. Its been a work horse for 4 years and it deserves to be in the tour. It also looks great. I love the retro style.
About 90% loaded. The Kronan feels OK to ride with 35KG on it.
Another problem I really need to think about is the positioning of the solar panel on the bike. I can easily deploy 50% of it across the rear baggage but that’s not really going to be enough. I should have tried to find two separate 12W panels and mounted them front and rear but its too late for that now and I’ll have to work round it. In this part of the world, the sun gives you about 4 full-power hours per day. With a 50% deployment of the panel, that’s only 48W/hrs. Short of the 60W/hrs I think I need per day. However, what I could do (and I really like the sound of this idea) is take a 2 hours working break between 12 and 2. This should give me close to 50W/hr of energy assuming the sun is shining. Outside these hours I might pick up another 10-20 w/hr so that’s 70W/hr of energy from the panel in a day. It looks like its possible and I will test the theory this week.
Under the seat is the battery and electrical kit. It weighs something like 5KG but packs an 80W/hr lead-acid battery and a 56W/hr Li-Ion battery. Enough to take a full days energy from the solar panel.
There’s about 5KG going on the front rack. Its not attached to the forks so doesn’t affect steering as much as panniers would. I’m thinking of using it as a computer table in the evening but I can’t find a good enough stool.
Mounted on the front handlebar are the Garmin Etrex GPS logger and a Plexiglas map holder. I will get some rain covers and more straps for the equipment. The Q1b UMPC sits in the right hand pannier its its organizer case and wrapped in clothes. I will have to be careful about making sure the device is in hibernation before I ride. If its in standby and then goes into hibernation it will have to start-up the disk. I don’t want that to happen while I’m riding as it could be fatal.