Cell phones and bicycles started out as enemies — what old-school cyclist doesn’t remember the first time their phone rang in a pocket and they had to stop to answer it? So okay, a pair of wired headphones could take care of that, and after another couple of years that was turned in for a Bluetooth pair. But the one thing that could stop a bicyclist dead in his tracks back then is still true today: loss of a phone’s battery power. So does that mean having to top off the battery on your phone time after time before you start pedaling? Not if you got Bike2Power’s BikeCHARGE Power Pack. But, you ask, how is that any different from when you have to pull battery back out of your pocket or bag when it’s needed? That’s where the BikeCHARGE Rechargeable Power Pack excels, because it’s riding the bike just like you are.
The BikeCHARGE is a short and stubby rod of a tough and durable composite. Rubber tips at each end make for easy gripping, but one comes off entirely to reveal the battery input and output — both USB plugs. Plug a mini-USB cable into the corresponding input’s socket and a small LED that doubles as a switch begins to blink. It starts out as red, goes to yellow and becomes green when the battery is fully charged. Once this is done (give it a good 2 hours the first time), you insert a standard USB plug into the output’s socket and press and hold the button till it begins to glow. Now the light reverses as it sends power to whatever device is attached to the USB cable. When the charge is done, remove the USB cable and put the rubber tip back on, to insulate and protect the sockets from the environment (i.e., dirt and water).
But the real beauty of the BikeCHARGE is how it goes along for the ride when your biking. Integral to its construction is a belt/harness that goes around a bike’s front bar (although it could go on a handlebar if the preference was there). Bike2Power provides some rubber sleeves to increase the friction between the BikeCHARGE and the bar; this pretty much guarantees that it will fit snugly on pretty much any bike.
It took me less than 2 minutes to attach the BikeCHARGE to my bike and off I went on a sunny afternoon here in SoCal for a long ride. I took a break a couple of miles later and took out my phone to snap some pics and take some videos. Normally I’d do this sparingly since I’m not one to have my iPhone connected to a charging source every spare minute, but since the BikeCHARGE was riding with me, why not? After about 10 minutes of shooting, I just connected a USB cable from the BikeCHARGE to my iPhone and zoned out for a few while the charging went on. About 15 minutes later my iPhone had more than enough power to guarantee it would work efficiently and effectively for the return trip home.
But there’s one thing that makes the BikeCHARGE even more efficient: using your phone in a case attached to the handlebars. Besides making for easier use of the phone, the power can be attached and left that way while biking.
I should also add that it’s easy enough to remove the BikeCHARGE for taking it with you when parked — it’ll fit inside a fair sized pocket and since it only takes a few moments to reattach it, there’s no sensible reason for leaving it on a bike unattended.
Bottom line: The $59.95 BikeCHARGE Rechargeable Power Pack provides 2600 mAH of power which translates into about 2+ charges for most smartphones, which is after all what it is designed to do. And the intelligence behind the design that has its power sockets protected shows that bikers were probably involved in the design process– or at least consulted. But it’s the convenience of being able to attach it to a bike that makes it so many times more useful than other battery power supplies, despite higher mAH numbers or multiple USB output sockets. This is the battery back up power supply to have for those long, or not so long, bike outings.
Rotating quick on/off harness, Works with tablets
Does not lock onto bike bar
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.