BikeCharge: Reach your destination with your phone fully charged

Tigra BikeCharge in the mounted position on front wheel

Update: I’ve removed the BikeCharge from our eShop because we had a few returns from people who couldn’t install it. I’ve also had a few difficulties installing it to two out of my three bikes so I don’t feel I can recommend it to others. I’ve spoken to the team behind the BikeCharge and in their testing they’ve found it fits around 90% of bikes. There are plenty of other eShops out there that stock it, so do give it a try. What I would do before ordering one is check the clearance on your forks. If you’ve got space then you should be fine.

When I was invited to be given a sneak preview of the new version of the Tigra BikeCharge, I was intrigued and at the same time fully prepared to be disappointed. Why? I’ll explain in a moment..

The BikeCharge is a £69.95 device that can be fitted to your front wheel. As your wheel spins around, the current generated is then regulated and fed in to any attached USB device.

It also provides a front and rear bike light. Though, due to the position on the front wheel, wouldn’t be a substitute for your rear bike light.

As someone who regularly uses an iPhone bike mount to follow directions and track my cycling, the device really appeals. With the Tigra BikeCharge, I could reach my destination and have a full battery, as opposed to an empty one.

So why was I preparing for disappointment?

Well, I’ve not really had much experience with dynamo devices. Perhaps, I’ve just been put off as it feels quite a clunky system. I was also worried about whether the BikeCharge would actually fit a wide range of bikes.

Did my fears prove true?

Weight wise, the Tigra BikeCharges comes in at 0.5kg. That isn’t too bad. Considering a middle of the road Hybrid bike weighs around 14.5kg and the rider on top of it probably around 74kg.

According to the manufacturer, this should fit a very wide range of bikes. That is something that I’ve not yet had the time to test. However, from the looks of the updated adjustable design, it should be true.

The test ride

Small rear view of the BikeCharge

During the short 300-400 metre test ride I was looking to see how fast I’d have to go to start charging and whether I could feel the device slowing me down at all.

The device did start charging very rapidly, which is a good sign, as it means I don’t have to race like a madman to get the charging capabilities.

I also couldn’t feel it slowing me down but it was such a quick test that it’s hard to comment on this yet.

My initial thoughts

From my first initial test ride I’m fairly impressed. I think the Tigra BikeCharge has a lot of potential, especially for cycle tourers. The first units should start shipping out in the next few days and I’m excited to test it more thoroughly, when I’ll write back with a full review.

Where can you get one?

We are selling the Tigra BikeCharge in our London Cyclist eShop for £69.95. We are also selling a version that comes with the handlebar mount for £89.95. As soon as we receive it from the manufacturer, we’ll start shipping – the estimate is this will be by Friday.

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16 Responses to BikeCharge: Reach your destination with your phone fully charged

  1. Alan 10/07/2012 at 11:19 am #

    Is it waterproof?

    • Andreas 10/07/2012 at 11:22 am #

      Yep – can be used in the rain

  2. s 10/07/2012 at 2:15 pm #

    It doesn’t look as though it would survive a single bump against a pole, bike rack, etc.
    In my experience, this is one kind of device where it pays to get the expensive version: an Alfine or Schmidt dynamo with the Busch & Müller E-werk charger.

    • Andreas 10/07/2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Shall have to give it a good bashing when I’ve got one in my hands!

  3. Dave 10/07/2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I use a small 6″x 3″ solar cell in a cradle on my handlebars. With a USB to phone connector, works like a dream

    http://www.powerbee.co.uk/solar-phone-chargers.html

  4. John Ackers 10/07/2012 at 4:53 pm #

    It would be nice to know exactly how much power it generates at different road speeds. Or if you are cycling at 12MPH, how long would it take to completely recharge a 1500 mAh battery (typical size in a mobile phone).

  5. Cameron 10/07/2012 at 11:50 pm #

    I like the idea but an extended life battery seems less fussy for me at least. You get something like 5000mAh battery – can charge it up, take it with you and is size of your phone.

    Obviously it needs to be charged but that is around 3 recharge cycles of typical phone – normally enough to get through a weekend. You can do your Garmin as well.

    Used one on London Revolution this year.

    • James R Grinter 11/07/2012 at 6:07 pm #

      I did this – I bought the PowerMonkey eXtreme battery, stuck it in my rear panniers and looped a cable along the cross bar and into my phone mounted on the handlebars in the Tegra iPhone mount.

      It has enough capacity and high enough charging rate that it is able to charge my phone up whilst the phone is simultaneously tracking my route with GPS and accessing the phone network.

      My next purchase will probably be a small frame bag, to put the battery in.

  6. Matthew Falconer 13/07/2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Sold. Off to Paris in just over a week and this solves the one thing I was worried about.

    • Andreas 14/07/2012 at 11:06 am #

      Thanks Matthew – look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  7. Tim80 18/07/2012 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks for the review Andreas.

    This device looks interesting but I agree that there is a need for a really good look at the strngth – you can imagine it being ripped off easily!

    I currently use a shimano hub dynamo for my lights and it is brilliant – two years in and it never fails to work, no worries about batteries or removing lights and the ligths are brighter than most battery lights. You can buy a connector for hub dynamos to do the same as this device. The advantage of the hub is that it is completely protected inside the wheel so no risk of smashing it. This disadvantage is the cost from about £35 but then you need to rebuild into the front wheel.

  8. chris 26/07/2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Any update how people are getting on with this as it looks interesting ?

    i think this could be the basis of a good article with the nights drawing in soon and the sale of batteries due to rise !

    • Andreas 21/10/2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Chris – I’ve updated the post with some recent thoughts after more thorough testing.

  9. Daz 10/12/2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I have tried this on two very short tours ( North Yorkshire Moors and Liverpool to Leeds canal. On both occasion I had to take it off my bike after a couple of hours. The lights work great and come on very quickly, but it wouldn’t charge my smartphone (Nokia N8) consistantly.

    The worst part was the amount of drag on it. It felt like cycling in treacle with it on. It doubles the energy needed to cycle and would add weeks to a cycle tour of about three months. Presonally, I will never use it again.

    p.s. Does anyone want to buy mine???

    • Edouard 24/06/2014 at 11:49 pm #

      Hello,

      Do you still have it?

      I’m about to buy one now and i’d like to know how it is really from the point of view of someone who has tried it in real cycling conditions.
      Eddie

      • Daz 25/06/2014 at 9:08 pm #

        Hi Edouard

        Yes I still have it. It hasn’t been used since my comments.

        I am happy to sell you mine at a reduced rate. Email me on spaceman09@blueyonder.co.uk if you are interested.

        Personally, I wouldn’t use it. I have a SP PD-8 dynohub and it is so much better. hassle free and very little drag.

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