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Family of 9 uses solar powered bike as transportation

May 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
No minivan for one family of nine. They get around on a solar bike. And not only is it fun, it saves them big at the pump.

The Hatchs leave home to drive their son Hunter to school. But on this ride he has to put on a helmet first. Hunter said when he shows up for the fourth grade everybody notices.

"They are like 'I want to ride it too,'" said Hunter Hatch. "And when I go in, everybody talks about it."

The coolest thing about the bike is if you are carrying too heavy a load you don't have to pedal because its solar powered. They are the same solar panels that power a house and are connected to a battery that propels an extra wheel which is covered in duct tape.

"We use duct tape because the duct tape sticks the ground without spinning," said Brent Hatch.

Brent Hatch's one-of-a-kind idea came around because he loved riding his Suri bike. But his family of nine was running out of fuel.

"A lot of times we would go up hills or different things and my husband would always be 'hey, who's not pedaling back there,'" said Phelicia Hatch. "We all were pedaling, but the bike was really heavy."

Now they just turn a motorcycle handle.

"You just, I'd say give it the gas, but it's not gas," said Brent Hatch.

It works even on cloudy days and brings happiness in more ways than one.

"It has cut my gas bill by 80 percent," said Brent Hatch.

"One time we were riding and we were near a bus," said Phelicia Hatch. "And we saw a gentleman on the bus and he looked really sad. And as soon as he saw the bike, he looked up he smiled and he was waving, and so it brings a lot of happiness to people."

It goes about 10 miles per hour, but it takes the family everywhere they need nearby. Brent Hatch is a realtor and rides to open houses.

"Not the typical realtor with a big fancy car," said Brent Hatch. "But this shows off better."

Phelicia Hatch heads daily to the post office to check her mail. But nothing is quite like the journey to the McDonald's drive-thru. Everyone almost always has the same reaction, and it's not 'would you like fries with that?'

"They don't know what to say," said Brent Hatch. "They just kind of look and ask, 'what's happening?'"