The Ultimate Power Resource for Bicycle Touring: Dynamo Hubs, Solar Panels, Power Supplies and Batteries

Alee April 12, 2013 15

This resources has been created to offer as many bicycle touring options as possible in the dynamo, solar, power supply and battery field. We have offered a quick blurb on each product with our opinion where valid.

What is best for you?

- Our preference is using our super efficient dynamo hub. If you use dynamo lights already – get charging with the below power supplies.

- If you use a laptop – solar+battery is most likely your best option because of the big panels and batteries available. Just like a laptop, these goods are not lightweight or space savvy!

- Solar and/or external battery packs are great for the budget conscious.

- If you only need a small amount of extra power between destinations, an external battery is the best solution for you. These can be great for laptop users if you’re prepared to carry the weight.

If you know of any other great, reputable products that we have missed, please leave a comment below and we will edit the page when possible.

Dynamo Hubs

We love powering our devices from our dynamo hubs! High-end hubs have no noticeable resistance and coupled with a power supply (see below) provide ample power for most things you carry when you ride.

Biologic Joule 3 – Self-claimed lightest and most efficient dynamo hub on the market due to the fact that it features an on/off switch in a package barely heavier than the competition. We haven’t heard much about this hub, but we are sure that like the other Biologic products, it works just fine.

Sanyo – The H27 is the best value dynamo hub around. One for the super budget conscious, although if you’re going to the effort to build a new dynamo wheel, we recommend investing a tad more money into a better performing Shimano option.

Schmidt – The industry standard and the hubs of choice for Alleykat. These efficient hubs include an incredible five-year warranty and due to awesome sealing from the elements are not expected to need servicing for 50000km. We recommend the SON28 for any 26-28″ wheel. We don’t really see the need for the delux model on any touring bike – the delux is designed for 16-20″ wheels so with 26-28″ wheels it effectively has a lower resistance but is not suitable for charging. Available in many axle configurations including 15mm.

Shimano – The Shimano T785 (XT) dynamo hub is excellent value for money (and the hub we’d choose from the range) and is popular on complete bikes.

Shutter Precision – Excellent value lightweight dynamo hubs. Similar internals to the Supernova Infinity S at a lower price. From all accounts these hubs are standing the test of time.

SRAM – The D7 is good value for money and is generally found on complete bikes.

Supernova – Supernova do two hubs; the Infinity 8 (on-off switch but heavy) and the Infinity S (no switch and lightweight). Alleykat love Supernova products and wouldn’t hesitate to use the Infinity S in the future.

Dynamo Hub Attachment

EcoXPower Hub Attachment – Mounting onto the fork, this is a really interesting option because the hub attachment has USB charging capability and front and rear light integration. Included is a remote switch to turn the lights on and off, as well as a waterproof smartphone case which mounts on the handlebars.

Sunup Eco DSR-1 Hub Attachment – This product bolts onto most existing bikes using 8-10 bolts. We have heard it isn’t efficient at all, but if you have used it let us know how it works – judging by the photos it is a pretty basic product.

Power Supplies – Dynamo

We find dynamo power supplies to work really well for us whilst we travel. More detail on the following power supplies is found in our article HERE.

Axa Nano 50 Plus – A dynamo headlamp with USB power connectivity. We haven’t seen or heard much about these lights, so if you have experience please let us know!

Biologic ReeCharge – This neat mounting product is available at a low price, although the battery capacity (1600mAh) isn’t all that large for post-ride charging.

Busch and Muller eWerkIf you want/need to adjust amps and volts to suit different devices while riding, then this is the product for you. We feel this product is expensive and the optional cache battery (also expensive) available isn’t all that powerful (1600mAh) for post ride charging.

Busch and Muller USB WerkThe USB Werk is the more recent release by Busch and Muller. It is a stripped back version of the eWerk and with a cache battery built in. The price is now very competitive with other options. If you only need to charge basic USB devices (GPS, smartphone etc), this will do all that you need!

Busch and Muller Lumotec IQ2 Luxos U Light – A new fantastic, bright dynamo headlamp with USB connectivity and a button on the handlebars for selecting whether the power should go to the light or the USB device. No external battery available for post-ride charging.

Exposure Revo Light and Boost CableThe Revo is probably the brightest dynamo light on the market. It has a port which allows you to hook up Exposure’s ‘boost’ cable and charge USB devices with it.

LightCharge USB Charger – The cheapest dynamo power supply option of them all. It can only charge devices while the bike is moving – there is no battery.

PP+ Super-i-cable – The SIC connects to a dynamo hub and can charge devices as you ride, or stores enough power (2200mAh) to charge your devices once you’ve stopped. Our review HERE.

PP+ V4i – The V4i is the extra battery to be used with the SIC. It can charge our iPhone four times with 10 hours ride time. The battery has a 6700mAh capacity. Review HERE.

Sinewave Reactor – The Reactor is a new stem power supply competitor to The Plug III. It’s advantage is a slightly lower cost and smaller stack height. As it is new, it is unknown how reliable or effective it is at this stage.

Sinewave Revolution – This particularly small and 100% waterproof charger (see the pics) can be hooked up directly to phones or power packs. According to the manufacturer a built-in battery model is in development.

Supernova The Plug III – The neatest, most elegant power supply of them all, and the one we use. The cable runs from the hub and mounts beautifully on the top of your stem cap. It is theft proof and can charge a smartphone or GPS from just 12km/h. Our 5 star review HERE.

ZZing – We don’t know too much about this product, but it seems like a more cost effective alternative to the others. It packs 2700mAh in it’s battery.

Power Supplies – Bottle Dynamo

Bottle dynamos have been proven before to be more efficient at higher speeds than dynamo hubs. But with dynamo hubs getting more efficient and LED lighting dominating the market nowerdays, 12 volt bottle dynamos don’t really have a place and 6 volt dynamos are only really for those on a tighter budget. If you are using a bottle dynamo, you are limited with lamp options – more here.

B&M Dymotec 6 and S12 – These are the best in the business however we think the Dymotec S12 is a bit pricey for what it is and the Dymotec 6 is a pretty basic unit.

SpinPower Charging Kit – At $80us including bottle dynamo, smartphone mounts and cables – this is one of, if not the cheapest way to charge and ride. Although the build quality doesn’t look so high…

Power Supplies – Solar

Solar power technology is ever evolving and is pretty much just getting super awesome. If we travelled with laptops we wouldn’t hesitate to get a mega solar kit and battery to keep everything running wherever we are. We actually aren’t very experienced in solar power ourselves but hear and read a lot from crew travelling around the world.

Note: There are lot and lots of solar chargers available, but these are from the larger brands with a more established reputation.

Brunton Solaris/Explorer – A bit pricier, but from all accounts some of the best products out there. If you get something with USB compatibility you’ll be on a win. Products rated between 2-26 watts.

Goal Zero Nomad – Probably the most popular solar units around for bicycle travellers because of their low cost and availability – although customer service and longevity seems less than perfect. Products rated between 7-27 watts.

Freeloader – Super cheap, small (1.5w) solar charger/batteries with 800-1600mAh built in batteries. Good for smaller USB powered devices for those on a budget.

Powerfilm USB+AA – This small 1.5w panel gets mixed reviews as it’s not as cheap as the competition and isn’t compatible with all phones.

Powertraveller – The Primatepower solar products offer a good range of solar panels from ultra compact to laptop sized. We like the Powermonkey Extreme for it’s waterproofness and 9000mAh battery and the Solarmonkey Adventurer for its compactness and ability to be strapped – although if you’re using a laptop, you’ll want something bigger.

Solar Joos Orange – Really good looking product, relatively cost efficient. Product rated at 4 watts and has a built in 5400mAh battery!

Solio Bolt – A small and cheap unit – haven’t heard too much about it. Product rated at 5 watts.

Supernova – Available from the makers of the brilliant dynamo lights and hubs. Product rated at 5 watts.

Voltaic – Really nice looking products available at a good price. The Fuse models have clips which allow you to attach the panel to a bag or pannier – a great design feature for bike tourers! Products available from 4-17 watts.

http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/voltaic-fuse-solar-battery-charger/

Power Supplies – Portable Battery Chargers

Your travel might be short enough or you might have enough access to power to never need dynamo or solar chargers for your bike trip – batteries might just be small and light enough to keep your devices going between wall plugs. Some of these battery packs will connect directly to the above dynamo hubs or solar panels, holding saved power for when you need it most.

Note: There are lot and lots of external batteries available, but these are from the larger brands with a more established reputation. Please check for connectivity to solar panels.

Anker – Well priced products with batteries ranging in size from 2600-20000mAh.

Brunton Impel/Sustain – Super well made products with a power capacity ranging from 2800-13000mAh. Slightly more expensive than the competitors, but they are worth it. Check out the small waterproof battery!

Energenie – Decent products available with between 1800-20000mAh juice.

Hyperjuice – Big batteries for laptop charging: 60-222Wh power, but all this comes at a cost (360-2130g weight). This is the system we would use if we needed to use a laptop in remote areas.

Innergie – A nice looking range of products for laptops and USB devices.

Just Mobile – A cheap, punchy 5200mAh option in a small casing.

Mophie – From the makers of iPhone battery cases, these products range from 4000-6000mAh and are of a great quality.

Powertraveller – A good range of external battery products for everything from phones to laptops.

PP+ SIC – Although a power supply, we’ve included this great cable in the battery section because it holds a satisfactory 2200mAh of power.

PP+ V4i – It is possible to buy the V4i without the dynamo cable, however we feel it is a bit expensive to use just as a battery. 6700mAh of power.

Scosche – The goBAT II is a nice looking 5000mAh battery that is available at a great price!

Veho Pebble – Very well priced and shiny black 5000mAh battery!

Voltaic – Neat products at a great price. 3000-16000mAh is available for USB devices. Their large laptop battery is 60Wh.

 

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  • Stef & Ange

    Hey you two!

    A quick addition to your already very detailed list: we used a Peeble during our trip, a 5000 mAh baterry that we could charge with our E-Werk. It worked great and the battery lasted forever. For 25€, we were pretty chuffed!

    Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.veho-uk.com/main/shop_detail.aspx?article=124

    Hope you are well!
    Take care,
    Stef

  • Stef & Ange

    Hey you two!

    A quick addition to your already very detailed list: we used a Peeble during our trip, a 5000 mAh baterry that we could charge with our E-Werk. It worked great and the battery lasted forever. For 25€, we were pretty chuffed!

    Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.veho-uk.com/main/shop_detail.aspx?article=124

    Hope you are well!
    Take care,
    Stef

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Thanks Stef – knew we could rely on you for at least one more option! :)

  • Dave

    Hi!

    Another addition to your terrific list is the Bright-Bike Revolution (whom I do work for). It’s probably the smallest dimensions of any charger on your list. I just took it on a trip down in Florida and got poured on, so I can tell you that it is completely waterproof :)

    Here’s the link: http://www.brightbikelabs.com/products/bright-bike-revolution

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Hi Dave. Thanks for letting us know about the Bright-Bike Revolution. We have added it to our resources and are impressed with the underwater pic!

      • Dave

        Thanks! And good luck as you continue your adventure!

  • callum

    Hi there,

    I was just wondering what are the exact requirements of a battery for it to be able to be charged via a dynamo hub? I have got the lightcharge USB charger, however it didn’t charge my phone, in fact my phone lost charge whilst plugged into it. And I have a portable battery which I got off Amazon, but it takes an absolute age to gain any charge from the dynamo hub.
    I tested my shimano hub with a multimeter, and it was giving out 6v of AC. I then tested a USB cable attached to the lightcharge, which was attached to the hub, and it was giving out 6V of DC, so the diodes were performing their job well… So I am just wondering why I am able to gain any charge off this thing? Is their a specific battery I

    need to buy? Many thanks,

    Callum

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Hi Callum

      I’m not actually sure about why it isn’t working, as I was under the impression that any old battery will do. Maybe send SP and email here: info@twinheads.it

      Regards

    • twin heads

      Hi Callum, which battery do you use? and which smartphone do you have?
      If you want you can write to us at info@twinheads.it

      Best regards.

      Davide

      Twin Heads Srl

  • Benjamin Schapiro

    The Voltaic Fuse adn V11/V30 batteries have worked very nicely on several tours. Keeping lights, iPad, iPhone and Garmin charged without difficulty. They’ve done a good job integrating chargers, batteries and the power needs of consumer electronics.

    Travel Safe,

    Ben

  • Anonymous

    This german site provides a DIY (but with an option to buy) dynamo hub charger:

    http://www.forumslader.de/

    They claim to be better the B&M E-Werk charger.

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alee Denham

      Thanks!

  • LuguLake Bluetooth Speaker

    Have you guys used LuguLake Bluetooth Speaker:
    http://www.lugulake.us/product/product_52_1.html

  • Kyboman

    I have a Son28 and ‘The Plug’ by Tout Terrain. Will this setup charge the Brunton/ Impel or the Pedal Power Plus? Which battery storage is better? I just want to be able to charge an iPhone or Pad after pedaling all day. Thanks. Kyboman

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alee Denham

      Hi Kyboman. The two batteries that you have mentioned have very large capacities. The PP+ battery is 6700mAh and can be charged directly from The Plug, however it does take 10hrs+ of ride time to fill. We normally plug it into a wall when we can, and top it up on the road. The Impel is 13000mAh and cannot be charged from a USB port, however it will charge from a wall much faster than the PP+ as a result of NOT charging via USB. If you are keen to keep your iPad topped up on the road, then a battery like the Impel will be the best way to do it – you can forget trying to charge that thing via dynamo. Regarding your phone, many of the smaller battery packs will do that fine – or you could just plug your phone straight into The Plug! Alee