The hassle with biking gadgets is they draw energy. Even if you’re running everything off your phone (Strava, music, GPS, video, the occasional pic, message, or phone call) the serious worry is that your battery will die before you get where you’re going or shortly after you arrive. There are battery packs, yes, but that’s yet another thing you have to remember both to charge and to carry with you.
Cydekick has thrown all that out the window. If you ride a bike, Cydekick turns the very motion of pedaling into a charge for USB devices.
The geniuses behind Spinetics, the company that designed Cydekick are Nicolas Zamora and Bethanny Hamm, two cycling-centric entrepreneurs who make clear that they care about making biking more accessible, and even more green, while making the world a better place in general. The end result of their passions is a frictionless bicycle generator that can mount to either the front or rear wheel.
The Cydekick creates energy via electromagnetic induction (you know, spinning magnets), which means no tire-rubbing. one portion of the device is fixed to the frame, the other to the rotor, and the spinning action of these opposing magnets creates energy.
A few major bike parts manufacturers, Shimano and SRAM among them, use this tech to make dynamo hubs, but using that kind of hub means buying a complete wheel or building a wheel especially for that hub. Dynamo hubs are definitely not after-market, pop-on-and-go solutions, while the Cydekick is just that, since it’s external to the hub. The nature of the design means those with disc brakes can’t mount the Cydekick on the rear wheel – it’ll be a front-wheel only venture, but it can go on either wheel for users who don’t have to worry about that.
The power is also used to run the high intensity front light and optional tail light, but since rechargeable lights are relatively easy to come by, the star is the USB charging system. With it you can plug in anything that takes USB output, including your phone, your camera, or your bike computer. It also has a battery pack that you can plug into the wall to charge if necessary (though that rather defeats the purpose).
The Cydekick comes in two packages at the moment; the Pro and the Mini. The Mini doesn’t come with the USB charging system, which makes me wonder how many hours it would take for the batteries in a standard high-intensity light to burn out, and how many times that would have to happen to break even on the cost of the Mini. That said, it’s impossible to quantify the environmental cost of how many batteries end up in landfills (along with their packaging and all associated waste).
Spinetics warned basic specs might fluctuate as they add more design improvements, but the weight as of publication is 1.08lbs for the Pro and .595lbs for the Mini. The details on the generators will be released with the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, July 30.
The CydeKick Pro will cost you $275 during the Kickstarter campaign, $150 for a Mini, both limited editions. While being able to charge anything with a USB by pedaling is a huge plus, even this die-hard commuter isn’t sure that the price point makes sense. Keep in mind, a dynamo hub goes for $75-$100 new, and between $100-$300 for a complete dynamo wheel. For those building their own wheel, tack on another few bucks for spokes and nipples. For those without that expertise, add on another $50-$70.
For sure the tech required to make the Cydekick isn’t cheap, but is the device versatile enough to appeal to a wider segment of the cycling market than die-hards like messengers, tourers, and daily commuters? One possible backer pointed out that most people in those categories already have lights, and making the light and optional add-on might save backers (and future retail buyers) some bucks. Let’s hope Spinetics takes that advice.