Some people choose a limousine to carry them from church after wedding. Others prefer to ride on a horse-drawn chariot. Benjamin Makuto and his wife Diana Mulatia chose a solar-powered tricycle.
Being a trike designed to be powered only by electricity with no option of pedalling, the risk of stalling midway and causing embarrassment was all-too-present.
Luckily for the newly-weds, the machine did not disappoint despite Friday having been a cloudy day.
“The batteries have enough power to go the distance,” Mr Makuto, a 26-year-old Electrical Engineering student at the University of Nairobi, told Nairobi News on the eve of the wedding.
Their wedding took place at Harvesters’ Global Church along Kiambu Road and they rode on the trike from the church to Divine Gardens and Resort, the venue for the reception, which is three kilometres away.
One of the key men behind the production and testing of the bike was on the wheel as the newly-weds sat on a trailer attached to it.
The bike, assembled at the Strathmore University’s Energy Research Centre, has a flexible solar panel as its roof. The panel charges the four batteries attached to a section of the machine. The batteries power three electric motors that cause motion.
Initial tests show that it can travel for up to 50 kilometres in one day, and that its average speed is 35 kilometres per hour.
So, why did Mr Makuto settle on this machine that is yet to be mass-produced?
“I’m a bike enthusiast,” he replied. “We had made one bike (for the event) but it didn’t have the oomph. That’s why we took this,” he said.
He paid Sh5,000 to the parent company of the tricycle for the wedding. According to Mr Robin Denton, a senior official of Solar E Cycles that partnered with Strathmore to make the bikes, this was the first time the company made an income.
“We are making the first income of Sh5,000 as a company, which is not a lot of money to most people said Mr Robin, a South African lawyer-cum-innovator who drove the tri-cycle. “But it is a unique thing we are doing today.”
The tricycle was put to test late last year when three models were engaged in a journey from Nairobi to Mombasa. The journey began on December 26 and ended on January 13.
They registered impressive results but gave the engineers a lot things to think about to make it a mass-produced model. Mr Robin said they plan to launch the trike in July.
As for the trike used at the wedding, groom was beside himself with joy on the eve of the event, saying that he and his then-fiancée were upbeat about the wedding day.
“I feel nice because it is something I have planned for. You feel good when it comes to fruition,” he said.
Mr Makuto also noted that he is an enthusiast of solar-powered vehicles, adding that he has been thinking of a vehicle that can be of assistance to the physically disabled.
“The whole idea is that we can develop things that consume solar energy and avoid fuel,” said the fourth year student who also works part-time.