The Challenges of Bicycle-Powered Charging
Using your bicycle's motion to generate electricity is an age-old concept that harkens back to the 1800s. These products, known as dynamos, were invented to power bike lights. Cyclists have recently converted these generators into power sources for their USB devices, such as smartphones and cameras, only to be met with a dreadful user experience. Here's why:
1. Volatile Output
Bicycle motion is never constant. Because bicycle power output is directly correlated to a bike's movement, a dynamo's electrical output is also never consistent.
During the dynamo's inception, this unstable electricity resulted in bike lights that flickered while riding. However, the effect is much more severe today. Modern electronics, such as smartphones, require stable power output. Otherwise, riders are met with annoying on-and-off charging states or, worse, fried devices. Dynamos must pair with USB electronics, purchased separately, to combat this issue. However, these products are costly ($100+) and have efficiency losses of 60%+.
2. Power v. Speed
A cyclist's average speed is 12 mph. Most dynamos are designed to produce ~3W (watts) of power at that speed. Why 3W? European regulations determine that dynamo bike lights are to be standardized 2.4W, front and .6W, rear, adding to a total of 3W. While it is possible to produce up to 6W in some cases, these power levels are quite low for most electronics. For context, most smartphones, such as the iPhone 11 Pro, ship with an 18W charger in the box. It isn't uncommon for a dynamo to take nine hours to charge a smartphone running navigation. Would you put up with that sacrifice? Most do not...
Moreover, cyclists want to power multiple devices at once, such as a phone + light or camera + GPS. Ultimately, the 3W power standard of most dynamos quickly becomes limited, and arguably useless, when used to power anything but simple light bulbs.
3. Confusing and Overwhelming Choices
The purchase of a dynamo system is an intensive do-it-yourself (DIY) process from start-to-finish. First, one has to choose their generator of choice. There are two dynamo generator types: bottle and hub. Bottle-based dynamos run off a bicycle's wheel and tend to be lower cost. However, they have poor build quality, efficiency, and are loud. Hub-based systems are more popular and integrate within a wheel's center hub. A relatively good hub can easily cost north of $300. These systems require extensive wheel re-builds that cost time and money (re-builds run about $100 at bike shops) on top of a hub generator's relatively higher price-point.
Next, a cyclist has to choose their electronics to pair with their dynamo. Most dynamos and electronics need to be cross-shopped to verify compatibility, with the electronics adding an additional $100-200 to the system. Moreover, some electronics have questionable safety standards, such as frequently turning on-and-off and overcharging devices.
Finally, the rider has to assemble all the pieces. Do you know how to solder? How long does it take for you to re-build a bicycle wheel? How about wiring cables through your handlebar stem? These are questions that almost all dynamo users must answer during installation. Browsing forums, articles, and Facebook groups are common practices to troubleshoot dynamo setups. But after the installation is all said and done, riders are still left with a costly bicycle power system that produces little electricity, provides a poor user experience, and is difficult to remove.
The Modern Alternative
Dynamos were designed at a time where dull lights were the most advanced technology one could add to their bicycle. However, today's smartphones, GPS navigators, cameras, modern lighting, and other devices used on bikes require a new power source. So we made a solution.
PedalCell - The Bicycle Power Source
PedalCell is a bicycle accessory that converts your bike's motion into stable and consistent electricity to power your smartphone and other USB devices. While PedalCell looks similar to some dynamos, it can't be any more different.
PedalCell's patented CadenceX technology produces stable electricity no matter your riding speed, ensuring your devices get the safe power that they need. Moreover, PedalCell's custom-designed generator emits 15-20W of power at traditional riding speeds, allowing you to power multiple devices at once, such as charging a smartphone and bike light.
PedalCell makes bike power easy by pairing its generator and electronics together in an all-in-one package that installs on most bikes in minutes. Better yet, this all costs less than half of the leading dynamo systems on the market. Call it the "dynamo of the future" or "dynamo 2.0", PedalCell is a modern solution for today's cyclists. All we did is just make the bicycle power source the market has been waiting for.