Local schools were well represented at the Bike to the Future competition, with Los Altos, Mountain View and Alta Vista high schools among the seven teams vying to build the best electric bicycle.
Mountain View came away with second place, Los Altos finished fourth and Alta Vista took fifth at the inaugural event, held May 5 at Gilroy Gardens.
Teams comprising three to seven students had two months to build their bikes with a $1,000 budget supplied by Silicon Valley Clean Energy, which hosted the competition in an effort to raise awareness about the environment and to promote a greener future. Teams were challenged to create a battery and battery charger and incorporate them into the bike along with a motor, controller and throttles.
Judges Rob Means, an electric-bike expert, Stephanie Gutowski of Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Zach Hilton of the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission awarded points to the teams based on how their bikes performed three challenges: acceleration, maneuverability and range.
“We had a lot of challenges overall,” Los Altos High’s Alex Santillan said of his team’s 60-day process of building its bike. “In the end, we did pretty well; we had a few things here and there, but we were able to fix them pretty quickly.”
Baruch Ortigoza, leader of the Alta Vista team, noted that his crew struggled to put the battery together and connect the cables, but they found it to be “an educational and fun experience.”
Shaan Patel, captain of the Mountain View team, added that the experience involved trial and error.
“We kind of went deep into it without researching as much,” Patel said. “Like one thing that we did is we bought some parts that we didn’t need (that) we had to return.”
Mountain View still placed first in the throttle category for range and second in both the obstacle course and acceleration challenges. Alta Vista won the thriftiness challenge by using approximately $400 of its $1,000 budget to build its bike. Los Altos scored first place in the pedal assist category for range.
Mountain View’s second-place finish came with a $3,500 scholarship prize.
In addition, all three teams were allowed to keep the bikes.
For more information on the competition, visit svcleanenergy.org.