In today's electronic world, we are never far from a charging chord and wall outlet. When on a bike tour, and want to take all your electronic gadgets along, you've got to figure out some way to charge them. If you are in hotels, hostels, or the Oregon Coast bike camping sites with outlets, you can simply charge every night. If you are like me, and frequent locations a little more remote, you need to get crafty.
Power generation for the bikepacker generally comes in two forms: solar panels, or dynamo (generator) hubs. Both technologies have advanced significantly in the past years. Solar panels are more powerful and smaller than ever before. Dynamo hubs are lighter, more efficient, and fit the variety of bike axle standards. Since I will be touring in winter, and will likely see a lot of rain and clouds, I've chosen to go with the dynamo option.
This spring, I purchased a SP dynamo front hub, and laced it up to a WTB Frequency i23 rim. The wheel building went smoothly enough, once I found the proper center to flange measurements for the hub. I rode the wheels all summer, but drug my feet purchasing the final piece to the energy production puzzle.
Enter the Sinewave Cycles Revolution USB charging system. The simple looking device, plugs into the front hub through a long wire, and has USB port for your electronics. I am by no means adept with wiring, but the system was quite easy to install. Simply attach the connector supplied by the hub manufacturer to the wires on the Revolution, zip tie the wire to the fork leg, and secure the Revolution itself to any desired location (I zip tied it underneath the stem). Plug in your device using a USB chord, and Ride.
So far the system has worked great. My phone begins charging promptly after plugging in, with a minimum speed of around 5.5 mph. Its waterproof, and has been out in a number of rain storms without issue. The speed of charging depends on how fast the wheel is turning, but in initial tests, I'm happy with its output. For the ride, I plan on charging a external battery via the hub system from which all of the electronics can charge at night. The only problem I've encountered to date, is interference with my wireless computer. If mounted too close to another, the Revolution disrupts the wireless communication and the computer fails to work. Simply moving the computer a few inches was enough to mitigate the problem.