Remember those "bottle"-type dynamos that rubbed against the side of your bike tire in order to power the lights? Well, they've gotten a high-tech makeover, in the form of the fork-mounted CadenceX generator – its creators say that it can replace the batteries currently needed for all bicycle electronics.
Created by Chicago-based startup PedalCell, the device features a rubber-edged wheel that spins as it presses lightly against the bike's front wheel rim. That spinning motion generates electricity, which is sent via wiring to a capacitor-equipped handlebar-mounted Smart Power Hub. That hub in turn regulates the current, feeding it out stably and consistently (again via wires) regardless of cycling speed.
Delivering a maximum of 20 watts, CadenceX isn't intended to power electric bikes' motors, but it could reportedly power just about any other bicycle-mounted electronic device – these could include lights, electronic shifting systems, phone chargers, cycling computers or actioncams. Additionally, because the capacitor stores a limited amount of power, those devices are able to keep running when the bike is stopped for short periods.
The generator's wheel does create some drag as it spins, although thanks to built-in sensors that detect the acceleration, speed and inclination of the bike, the resistance of that wheel is automatically turned down when the rider is travelling at slow speeds or climbing hills, and it's increased when they're braking.
Plans call for CadenceX to either be factory-integrated into third-party manufacturer's bikes (utilizing internal wiring), or to be retrofitted onto existing "fleet" bikes – it won't be available directly to consumers. The embedded version reportedly weighs about 270 grams, while the add-on system tips the scales at around 320 g.
And yes, you're right, bottle dynamos do still exist – according to PedalCell, however, their current typically isn't regulated, resulting in uneven power delivery. Wheel hub-integrated dynamos can also be used to run devices such as lights, but the company claims that its system generates much more power due to the fact that the rim spins monumentally faster than the hub. Additionally, unlike a hub dynamo, the CadenceX generator can be decoupled to eliminate drag when no power is needed.
PedalCell COO Adam Hokin tells us that the system will be included in a third-party e-bike launching this summer (Northern Hemisphere), with other partnerships following later this year and into 2020.
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