Innovation isn’t always pretty, as two Pennsylvania college kids have shown with a homemade hydrogen-fuel-cell motorcycle that is ugly and slow but still pretty cool.
Alex Bell and Andres Pacheco, a pair of engineering majors at Swarthmore College, told us they spent two years and about $10,000 cobbling the Frankenbike together for a class project examining the viability of hydrogen-powered transportation.
What they came up with lacks the sex appeal of, say, the hydrogen-fuel-cell Suzuki Crosscage concept, and it’s about as powerful as an electric bicycle. But that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Bell and Pacheco stripped the guts out of a junked Buell Cyclone and installed a Ballard polymer exchange membrane fuel cell that provides juice to an AC induction motor. The motor produces a whopping 1.6 horsepower and the bike tops out at 20 mph. They concede the motor is woefully underpowered, particularly given that the bike weighs 400 pounds, but they consider the bike a stepping stone.