As I said in an earlier post about the BioLogic Reecharge Power Pack I’d do another post once I’d had a chance to try it out properly. This meant taking it with me on a number of rides to find out how it performed following a route with GPS, tracking a route and just charging the phone without running either of those. But before reviewing its performance here’s an explanation of what it actually is and how it works with a bike.
The Power Pack is a battery that is charged, through cables via a power regulator, by a hub dynamo wheel. Connection is a little fiddly but not technically demanding. There are two individual wires within the cable, one red and one black, which can be twisted together with your bike light wires – it doesn’t matter which colours go with which.
The Dynamo Kit
This cable is permanently attached to the bottom of the power regulator which is itself attached to the bike fork using zip ties. The cable from the top of the regulator has a connector at the end, which I believe will plug straight into an iphone so could be used to charge an iphone as you ride, without the Power Pack. BioLogic appear to sell the power regulator without the Power Pack, calling it a “Dynamo Kit”. It’s much cheaper than buying the Power Pack but I couldn’t find a retailer in the UK selling it.
If, like me, you don’t have an iphone or can’t find someone selling the Dynamo Kit then you have to get the full Power Pack version. This should come with the power regulator, charging cable, Power Pack, wall socket plug, and various adaptors to connect a range of non-iphone devices.
The Power Pack
This doesn’t attach permanently to your bike but has a strap that wraps around the bike frame or handlebar stem. It’s easy to attach and remove yet has stayed secure even on some very bumpy tracks. The connector from the regulator plugs into one socket to charge the Power Pack whilst a second socket takes a micro USB cable for charging devices. You can then charge your phone as you ride or detach the Power Pack and charge your phone or other device wherever is convenient. Charging the Power Pack takes about three hours as does charging a phone from the pack. A fully charged Power Pack is supposed to fully charge an iphone I believe but only charges mine up to 70% from empty.
I’ve used the system to power my phone as I’m riding, with the phone mounted on the handlebars. Charging directly like this supplies enough power to run GPS and tracking, and even top up the phone. This has been done when the Power Pack already had power stored. It doesn’t power the phone and charge itself when starting from empty, at least not when I tested it. That shouldn’t be a problem as long as you start a ride with a charged Power Pack which is easily done since it can be charged from a wall socket.
As there appears to be enough charge going into a charged Power Pack to maintain its optimum level and also provide surplus charge to the phone regardless of the application (GPS or tracking) that’s being run, this would make it ideal for touring.
One thing to be borne in mind is that the power regulator can be damaged at high speeds if it isn’t charging the Power Pack. So, if you were to forget your Power Pack for some reason you would need to disconnect from the hub dynamo. The only problem with that would be at night, as you’d be disconnecting your lights too. In that event you would need to separate the wires for the lights from those for the power regulator, then reconnect your lights. That wouldn’t be too difficult but is still fiddly. I just leave the Power Pack on the bike all the time except, of course, when leaving the bike in public.
It should also be noted that at speeds of over 45 kilometers per hour (28 mph), for more than ten minutes, the Power Pack could be damaged if already fully charged. However, BioLogic say that it does have “safety shortcut protection” built in so, all in all, shouldn’t be a problem, especially as I’m not likely to ride at 28 mph for ten minutes at a time!
Benefits for iphone Users
If you do use an iphone then you can get a fully integrated version of the system with the Biologic BikeMount and the free Biologic Bike Brain application with GPS mapping, speed, time, elevation and distance amongst other features.
All in all a great piece of kit that will enable me to keep in touch, check the weather, take photos, read email, surf the net, listen to music and the radio, oh! and navigate, without running out of power or needing to find wall sockets every other day.