Bicycle Power Source vs Power Storage

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Adventuring on a bicycle tour or bikepacking trip can lead to new experiences; checking out an off-route town, accidentally stumbling onto beautiful scenery, or even discovering a technical path that can push your riding skills. However, one issue that always dulls a biking trip is access to power. Keeping your essential devices charged is imperative to navigate, document your journey, and add an extra layer of safety. Carrying a battery bank and some outlet route planning can help. But the only way to truly stay comfortable off-grid is to have a self-sustaining power source such as a dynamo generator or solar panel. Here are the top 3 reasons why it’s good to have a power source not just power storage:

Less Planning, More Freedombike packing northpak, cycle tourism, bike

Freeing yourself from battery recharging allows your journeys to be more fun, spontaneous, and expansive. Imagine: you find a new off-beat route that you're just dying to explore while bikepacking. However, you only have a few hours left of charge before your battery bank is toast. Instead, you're forced to get back on the main path, find a coffee shop or gas station, buy a drink, take out your crow's nest of cables, then sit and recharge at an outlet for about an hour. Once you're finished, you put everything back on your bike, then finally continue riding. Stopping your adventure to charge up puts a damper on an otherwise fun and exciting ride. With a dynamo or solar panel, you can plan journeys longer and farther while staying charged.

Don’t be Anxious using your DevicesNavigation & Routefinding for Bikepacking - Highlux Photography

Anyone can get their smartphone to last a week. Just turn off its screen and put it in airplane mode. But, at that point, why carry a smartphone? Modern devices become stunted when their connectivity services and features are turned off to save power. Wouldn't it be great if you could use that shiny new iPhone or Garmin with screen brightness that you could actually see in the sun, blast tunes with Bluetooth, or continuously track rides with GPS? With a self-sustaining power source, you can! Just keep your devices topped up with readily available juice.

Reliable PerformanceHow To Cool Down A Hot iPhone: 11 Tips For An Overheating Smartphone -  Macworld UK

Lithium-ion batteries are not built for the outdoors. Despite what some marketing jargon may tell you, their underlying chemistry performs best in room temperatures. A battery drains up to 2X as fast in cold temperatures (source). In the heat, they will just shut off completely. These conditions also cause a battery's health to degrade more quickly, with some cyclists seeing capacity reductions in as little as three months. Dynamo generators and solar panels are built for the outdoors with weather resistance and wide-temperature operating ranges. Even if your device's internal battery starts to cripple in rough conditions, a self-sustaining power source can keep it afloat.

Okay but aren't there downsides to power sources? Yes, here's what they are:

Biologic Joule™ 3 Dynamo Hub | Tern Bicycles

Dynamo generators always produce power from your motion, but they were built to energize low-power lights, not modern USB devices. As a result, a dynamo generator can take about 9 hours to fully charge a smartphone. Furthermore, they require professional installations that are permanent and expensive; in fact, a complete dynamo system can cost upwards of $700!

Best Portable Solar Panels For Camping and Bike Touring - Cycle Travel  Overload

Solar panels can work great when stationary with perfect alignment to the sun. However, this is rarely the case while biking. If solar panels are slightly off-axis or catch a shadow, their output efficiency is significantly stunted. While riding a bike, the panels need to be constantly adjusted to maintain direct contact with sunlight. Setting up and continually changing a solar array while riding is not practical for most bikers. Even if you can get solar set up correctly, they only perform perfect weather conditions and output zero power at night. 

PedalCell: No-Compromise Power for No-Compromise Journeys 

PedalCell allows cyclist adventure seekers to truly travel untethered from outlets and battery constraints. PedalCell converts your bicycle motion into a continuous USB charge, similar to a dynamo. However, PedalCell uses a completely bespoke patented design that produces up to 3X more power with ½ the drag per watt than dynamo generators. In addition, PedalCell installs in minutes on nearly any bicycle design and has 11 weather-resistant seals. PedalCell has performed throughout tens of thousands of miles to provide power in rain or shine, day or night, even surviving a multi-day tour throughout the Mojave Desert! PedalCell is the ultimate journey-enabler for cyclists.

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