Dynamo Chargers Outside of the Hub

Dynamo chargers don’t have reside in the hub. Let’s look at some new designs of bicycle dynamo chargers that mount on the bicycle. All of the dynamo chargers in this review are not hub dynamo chargers. I am not against using a hub dynamo charger. I love my current set of wheels and am not open to any changes to accommodate any hub dynamo chargers. So what are the new developments in non hub dynamo chargers.

First off what are non hub dynamo chargers?

A non hub dynamo charger is a dynamo charger that is outside of the wheel’s hub. They mount on seat stays, forks, bottom brackets and there are some newer versions that mounted between the hub and the dropouts. They all make contact with the tire and that in turn drives the dynamo. They are not as well received as an internal hub dynamo but were once the only dynamo chargers available.

Wheel Mounted Dynamo Chargers

There are three entries to the wheel mounted dynamo charger category: The Siva Atom, the Spinetics CydeKick, and the Tigra Sport BikeCharge. These are all new products that I have not tested. have a look:

The Siva Atom

Siva Atom dynamo chargers

The Siva Atom came to my attention last year when they ran a successful kickstarter campaign. The reviews for this product are mostly positive and it looks to fit most bicycles. Should you have wide flange hubs or disc brakes you are out of luck. The unit comes with a cache battery that stores power. It is easily removable if you have no power needs or if you meet technical riding or muddy trails. This product is available for to buy.

Buy the Atom here

The Spinetics CydeKick

Spinetics CydeKick Dynamo Chargers

This isn’t even a product yet. I found it when I was searching for products to include in this article. It described as being frictionless with no added resistance. It looks like there are two parts. A magnetic flywheel that zip ties on the hub and a dynamo unit that is removable. For more information about this charger visit http://www.spineticsinc.com/thecydekick/.

There are two different versions of this charger: The CYDEKICK Pro and The CYDEKICK MINI. The difference being is the pro can charge USB items like a phone or GPS and the MINI charges the light set that comes bundled. An interesting thing to note is that the lights that ship with this product can charge a bit so they stay on when you stop riding. I will update this when their kickstarter launches.

The Tigra Sport BikeCharge

Tigra Sport BikeCharge dynamo chargers

The Tigra Sport BikeCharge is a front mounted dynamo charger that comes with front and rear lights, a 1000 mAH cache battery, and two USB ports. I have read reviews where users were able to mount this on bikes with disc brakes.

To be honest it looks pretty bulky. The onboard battery allows the user to charge even when stopped. You can remove this when it is not needed or when more technical terrain id being ridden.

The Buy the Tigra Sport BikeCharge

Bottle Mounted Dynamo Chargers

Sidewall “Bottle” Dynamo Chargers

A sidewall dynamo looks like a mini wine bottle and mounts to the fork or seat stay. A wheel atop the dynamo touches your bicycle wheel and turns with the wheel. A spring in the mount keeps the dynamo pressed to the rim.

The major drawback to a sidewall dynamo are the friction involved and the fact that you need to convert the electricity to the USB standards to charge your phone, gps, or camera. the flywheel will wear your tire as well.

These have been around for ages and work, but I am trying to avoid converting dynamo to phone and I am looking for a solution that comes with this conversion built-in. My grandfather had a bottle dynamo on his vintage Campy equipped Legnano lighting his way on night rides. They work but there is a lot to consider between the mount, tire contact, and power conversion. For me there is too much that can go wrong out in the field. Please change my mind and school me about bottle dynamo chargers.

Rim Dynamo Chargers

Rim Dynamo Chargers

How cool is that? I love me some good design and gadgetry and this qualifies as both. Visit http://www.velogical-engineering.com/rim-dynamo-en for a better look. I think these would only power a set of LED lights and they wouldn’t work for a cache battery or a smart phone. They show mounts for road, mountain, and even suspension forks. It’s a link that I will keep clicking just for the cool factor.

Chain Dynamo Chargers

Chain Dynamo Chargers

This is the worst concept I have seen in dynamo chargers. It only works when you are pedaling. The plastic attachment belt looks like it could come loose and get sucked into the wheel. It would completely interfere with every shift you made to another gear. 8 out of 9 reviews on Amazon are negative. I would stay away from this concept.

seat tube mounted dynamo charger

Seat Tube Mounted Dynamo Chargers

Is this even real? I’m not sure. The System-S seat tube mounted dynamo charger looks pretty cool in the above photo. It mounts well away. The dynamo comes with a USB cable and they also make a handlebar mount for your phone. Minimum speed for charging lists at 8 km/h and the output is USB DC 5V. I couldn’t find a lot of information on this other than one amazon review which stated: Didn’t work :(. It was not in stock at amazon.

It sells at he following ‘sketchy looking’ sites below. At $47 USD I would buy one just to test it but the shipping prices were a bit off-putting. Shop at your own risk:


Bottom Bracket Dynamo Charger

bottom bracket dynamo charger

The Sanyo NH-T10 [6v-3w] was probably the only bottom bracket charger I have ever seen in the wild. They no longer available but I see them on eBay sometimes. Peterwhitebicycles.com still sources some replacement parts. I can’t comment on how well this works but since they don’t make them anymore I’m going to assume that they can’t come close to doing what a dynamo hub does.

6 Replies to “Dynamo Chargers Outside of the Hub”

  1. I had a bottom bracket mounted dynamo back in the 1970’s. It actually worked pretty well with what I think was a 3 watt halogen headlight. I could bike reasonably fast and still see where I was going. Unfortunately, it tended to slip when it got wet, as it was chromed steel. Anyone who’s tried to brake a bike with caliper brakes and steel wheels knows what happens to friction when it rains. With an aluminum outer shell it might have worked fine, as long as that part was replaceable. I should have looked into that. Similarly, I’m guessing a generator with rubber wheel riding on an “alloy” wheel might be ok in the rain.

    The old bottle generators, when adjusted properly, seemed to work ok when dry, though I think there was much more drag.

    I think most of these generators really did give 3 watts at reasonable riding speeds, but I imagine that the hub generators are in general more reliable and less fussy.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. I just wanted to show that there were some other options. Some of these are pretty creative and it seems to me there will be better working and more simple designs coming. My emphasis is in ‘NOT NEEDING’ a lot of battery power in the first place…once that has been achieved keeping them charged is a lot easier.

  2. Why not have a device of such a purpose be driven by the brake disc? So surprised I Can’t seem to find any results of such a description!!

    1. Owen…I think the HUB is the most natural spot because the wheel is always turning while in movement. Besides….I am still running a set of rim brakes. How do you see the mechanism working on a disc brake? Full time or only when the brake is applied? Thanks for your comment!

  3. Found this site quite by accident- however, a near neighbour of mine has bought a push bike but not the posh version with some sort of generator- anyhow, found this lot & the above comment about disc brakes caught my eye. Thinks- well, sort of- if you’ve ever taken a hard drive apart & I am no expert but the few I’ve looked at have pretty strong magnets in them- perhaps try arranging them radially around an aluminium disc & pick up the output from there- the electronics I leave to the better informed but they shouldn’t be too awkward & will be lightweight enough. And so, enough- I haven’t even ridden a motorcycle in years, however all the best- J.D.

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