Portable chargers for cyclists

iPhone on the table

I’m currently in Portland investigating the cycling culture here for a post on London Cyclist. While I’m on the move, one of my most useful accessories is the Veho Pebble. When my battery is running low, I can just plug it in and fully charge up my iPhone.

The Veho Pebble is useful for those travelling, cycle touring and camping. However, it needs to be charged up from a power socket.

Portable solar chargers for cyclists

PowerBee Charger

The Power Bee is one of the best solar chargers. At under £27 it’s incredibly good value, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket and has 3500 mAh capacity which should be enough to charge most mobiles twice.

A case is included so this doesn’t get bashed around when it’s in your bag.

As this is a small device, it does require an entire day of outdoor sunlight for a full charge. Therefore, you’ll want to leave it outside your tent or on your panniers while you cycle.

The Power Bee is available from Amazon for £27.

Voltaic Fuse Solar Bag Charger

Voltaic Fuse Solar Bag Charger

Fellow cycling blogger Darren Alf in his What to pack for a year-long bicycle tour post, swears by the Voltaic System Fuse Solar Bag Charger. This huge unit fits on to your panniers, backpack or can be left outside your tent. Unfortunately, it only has a 3,000 mAH battery and it’s very expensive to buy in the UK.

Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme 9000 mAH

Powertraveller Extreme solar charger for cyclists

A seriously high capacity option is the Powertraveller Extreme. Not only does it have an enormous battery capacity, it also has much larger solar panels allowing you to charge up faster. On average you’d be able to charge your iPhone up six times before the battery runs out. Unfortunately, it’s expensive at over £100 and quite large to carry around. However, you’ll never run out of battery!

The Powertraveller extreme is available from Amazon for £106.

New Trent IMP120D 12000mAh

image

If you are happy without the solar charging element, then you can’t get a much larger capacity than the New Trent IMP120D. With 12000 mAh battery capacity you’ll be able to charge your iPhone up to 8 times before needing to plug the unit back in to the socket. The New Trent is excellent value at just under £40.

The bag that is included is also excellent at protecting the unit.

The only option I’ve not included here is for those with hub dynamos. The Biologic ReeCharge is a great option if that’s you.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

22 Responses to Portable chargers for cyclists

  1. Chris Bolton 13/02/2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Nice review Andreas, the Power Bee appears to be a particularly good option in anticipation of better weather ahead! Enjoy Portland!

    p.s You may have got your hub dynamos mixed up with hub gears in reference to the ReeCharge Biologic, but you can blame that on the jet lag;)

    • Andreas 14/02/2013 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks Chris – looking forward to it! Sorry, I’ll correct that part!

  2. Kellyman17 14/02/2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I just funded a project on kickstarter about this very thing. im really looking forward to it. the price is VERY good as well http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/560071831/ultra-high-capacity-battery-for-mobile-devices?ref=live

  3. Stephen 14/02/2013 at 10:01 pm #

    About 15 years ago, I ran bike lights off a dynamo that rotated against the rear rim. Couldnt that old-style tech trickle charge a phone with less expense than solar et al?

    • zed 16/02/2013 at 5:17 pm #

      It exists (Biologic Reecharge) but with better tech power generated directly from the hub rather than the tyre sidewalls.

  4. Gustavo Narea 14/02/2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Very useful review indeed.

    Two months ago I bought an Anker Astro2 (8400mAh) for £23 on Amazon. It needs to be charged from the mains, but it’s not an issue for me as I use it for my day-long routes which I plan well in advanced. Very happy with it so far.

    My 2 cents.

  5. John 15/02/2013 at 10:31 am #

    Hi Andreas

    I purchased a veho pebble after a review you featured a while back. I would not buy another and I have given up with it as the connection to the iphone is so fragile. I got the pebble to use with Strava. I would go on a long ride and the connection from the pebble to phone although looking like it was connected had vibrated out. Taping the connection to the phone also did not work. I still use the pebble for an emergency back up, as it will charge if pebble and phone are stationary.
    All that said, I may just have a rouge pebble/connection/phone! as your review did not highlight any such issues.

    • silasl 19/02/2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Yeah, I also had this problem – very disappointing as otherwise a great gadget.

  6. Spencer 20/02/2013 at 10:14 am #

    Hi I am doing the dunwich dynamo this year and would like to use my iphone 5 . How big a battery do you think I will need for a 12hr ride thanks spencer

    • Andrew 22/02/2013 at 10:52 am #

      I would have thought a 5000mAH battery would be sufficient for that.

      Do you happen to have an iPad with 3G (the 3G versions have built-in GPS)? I used my iPad 3G the other day to record a 60 mile / 3hr40m ride in Strava and the battery level dropped just 2% during the ride.

  7. Sarah 22/02/2013 at 10:15 am #

    There’s a cheaper PowerMonkey than the one you’ve reviewed (~£60). It can be charged from usb/a selection of mains chargers for different countries/solar. It’s very hard wearing and will do two full mobile phone charges from the battery when it’s fully charged.

  8. Andrew 22/02/2013 at 10:50 am #

    I’ve recently bought a Pebble too. The device itself is good quality but the connecting leads/adapters are junk. It charges just about every USB gadget I own except my Samsung S3 mini – there is an adapter which fits but the device doesn’t charge unless I switch it off. Not much use to keep the battery topped up when using Strava!

  9. Vincent 22/02/2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m thinking of getting the “New Trent IMP120D 12000mAh”.

    For day trips, ie. I’ll have access to the mains at the hotel at night, does someone know how long it could power my Samsung Galaxy Nexus while keeping the GPS on during the whole day?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_Nexus

    FWIW, I bought a 1900mAh as backup to the original 1750mAh.

    • Craig 11/04/2013 at 8:21 pm #

      The trent is ok if you use it all the time and keep the battery charged/discharged regualrly i used my occassionally and it died just after warranty. I called them and they basically said tough luck.

  10. Liam 22/02/2013 at 1:58 pm #

    I’m very happy with my little Duracel Instant. Recharges with a USB link and is very light – http://www.duracell.com/en-US/product/instant-usb-charger.jspx As long as whatever you are charging comes with a cable that links back to a USB port its v handy.

    I keep forgetting to close apps on my iPhone so need a back up source…

    I’m going to give it a try with my Garmin 705 when I next do a 300k Audax (Garmin’s battery only gives about 15 hours run time so its a bit of a fag without back-up).

    Liam

  11. Vincent 22/02/2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks for the link. Considering the 1950mAh barely lasts half a day with GPS on + switching display on/off frequently, 1150 mA won’t be enough to last me a day.

  12. Stephen 22/02/2013 at 2:37 pm #

    What about the previous front wheel dynamo that you showed us Andreas? I bought one and it works pretty well but you I do notice the resistance on that a bit and for bikes wheels with few spokes its not so good at all as the gear doesn’t catch well . Did you ever finish your test of it?

    • Andreas 23/02/2013 at 4:18 am #

      Hey Stephen – I think you are referring to the Tigra BikeCharge – I decided to stop selling that as I had quite a few complaints of people struggling to fit it. It was produced in Asia for the Asian and US market and it seems there was a few issues with many of the bikes in the UK. Having said that, there are people out there who absolutely love it! If a new version comes out, I’ll do some more investigating!

  13. Stephen 23/02/2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Ah, this would have been helpful to know as well before I bought one, I should have waited for the more full test that you promised. Mine is gathering dust…

    • Andreas 23/02/2013 at 10:08 pm #

      Have you not used it Stephen?

  14. Stephen 23/02/2013 at 10:28 pm #

    Only for a week or so, tried it on my Brompton, but now it’s lingering in a drawer!

    • Andreas 25/02/2013 at 3:25 am #

      Sorry to hear that! Have you thought about putting it on the lfgss.com forum? It could go to a good home!

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