Purdue Student Builds Solar Motorcycle

Want to see a solar-powered, street-legal motorcycle? Purdue University physics major Tony Danger Coiro did, so he created just that–and dubbed the vehicle, appropriately enough, the Solar Cycle. This eco overachiever has now launched a club to help like-minded students expand environmentally friendly transportation options on campus, the Purdue Electric Vehicles club.

Coiro, a junior, launched the club in conjunction with Jim Danielson and Sean Kleinschmidt, two sophomores at Purdue who spent their summer after high school converting a 1987 Porsche 924S (which they picked up for a cool $500) to run on electric power. Kleinschmidt, a mechanical engineering major, translated that success into a summer internship at Tesla, where he helped to develop batteries (not a bad thing to have on your resume before graduating). Danielson, who is majoring in electrical and computer engineering, spent his summer developing motor control electronics for Electro-Motive Diesel, which designs and manufactures diesel-electric locomotives.

Solar Cycle

image via Purdue University

As far as the Solar Cycle goes, Coiro reports that driving it is surreal. “I get instant, silent, constant acceleration that outpaces urban traffic,” he said, in a statement.  “It’s like riding a magic carpet.” Coiro spent $2,500 redesigning and retrofitting a 1978 Suzuki he got for $50, which now gives him a range of up to 24 miles per charge (presumably on sunny days) and top speed of 45 miles per hour.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.