Charger lets you bike for power, not just health

On right: The BioLogic FreeCharge comes in a tiny silicone-encased box that hooks to your generator hub to transfer your body’s power into your iPhone.
(Credit: Dahon)

Every year at the Multnomah County Bike Fair in Portland, Ore., someone brings a bike hooked up to a blender and lets people pedal their way to their smoothie of choice. Sometimes the simplest, most obvious ideas are also the most brilliant.

So it comes as no surprise that far lighter, more portable charging devices are being designed to fit on bicycle generator hubs. Folding-bike maker Dahon has just unveiled its Biologic FreeCharge at the Eurobike Fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and it has the cycling world all atwitter.

The FreeCharge connects to any dyno hub on the market and charges a small gadget (iPod, cell phone, GPS unit, etc.) by transferring some of the energy your body generates pumping away on your bike to a high-capacity battery, which in turn directs a steady current to said small gadget. A simple silicone casing both secures the unit to the bike and seals the charger (although being zapped by the charger might give one that extra push to continue powering the device).

It remains unclear whether the FreeCharge has the capacity to power these devices as quickly as a 120-volt outlet does–a rate that likely also depends on how fast one pedals. Regardless, an iPhone takes around three hours to fully charge, so unless you’re touring the countryside (for which this gadget would be perfect), it’s more likely that this has more practical use for smaller top-off charges.

The BioLogic FreeCharge should be available for around $99 in March.