Recently we received the BikeCharge Power Pack by Tigra Sport and the BikeCharge Power Converter by Tigra Sport for review. The Power Pack is a storage battery with USB output for charging electronic devices, and a micro USB input. The Power Converter converts the A.C. power from a 6 volt dynamo hub to D.C. so that the hub can be used to charge electronic devices or the Power Pack.
My first impression of the Power Pack is that it is a nice, compact size, relatively light, and appears to be robustly made. There is a rubber cap to seal the ports on the business end of the battery which is held on by means of o-rings. I like that…simple and durable. There are three other caps included in the package, each of which has a different configuration of openings providing access to the USB out or the micro USB in, or both. I can see the advantages of being able to keep dust and moisture out of the unused ports, I just wish there was a more elegant way to do it, especially since I will lose most of the caps the first day on tour.
The battery snaps into a hard plastic cradle which rotates an a base which in turn mounts to a tube on the bicycle (frame, handlebar or stem) and is held in place by a heavy, rubberized band. The attachment system is very solid and I can’t imagine that it will rattle or that there is any chance of it falling off. It might be nice if the part of the base which is held against the bike tube was padded rather than simply hard plastic.
There is a charge indicator light adjacent to the ports on the end of the battery. A short USB cable is included.
The battery has a capacity of 2600 mAh and will charge a device at 500 mAh at 5 volts.
One end of the BikeCharge Power Converter sprouts a short cable which plugs into the dynamo hub, and the converter itself is attached to the bicycle fork with zip ties. Out of the other end of the converter a second cable emerges and is terminated with a USB port. The converter is light but it is large, much larger than the other converter I am using. The two bare wires at the end of the cable which attaches to the hub are meant to be inserted into the plastic plug on Shimano or Sanyo hubs but for my Schmidt hub it was necessary to crimp two piggyback fittings on the end. Over voltage protection is built into the unit for when the wheel is spinning fast.
I have only had the chance to use the Power Converter one time but it appears to work well. With any converter I think it is best to use them to charge a battery which can simultaneously be charging a different device or which can be used to charge the device later. This way, when the bike stops, the charge to the device won’t be interrupted. At USD $29.95 this converter is an inexpensive way to get into charging electronics with a dynamo hub. I wish the output cable with the USB port attached was shorter. At almost five feet, there is a lot of extra cable that needs to be tucked in or zip tied on.
I really like the BikeCharge Power Pack. Like I said, it is small and robust and it charges my Droid phone quickly. The rubber end caps are a little cumbersome and might be rethought in order to use just one cap with some sort of system to keep it tethered to the battery. I will probably eventually lose all the caps. I also like the little bracket to keep the battery attached to the bike so I don’t need to find a pocket on a bag to hold it while charging, and I won’t need to fish around looking for the battery when I need it. At USD $69.95 the price is competitive.
The distributor also has a product called LightCharge Hub which is intriguing to me. This is a smaller converter/charger which features dual modes; in addition to the USB port, a separate leg goes to the bike lights , so with the flip of a switch a person can power their lights or charge a device, eliminating the need for piggyback connectors on the hub and the resulting mess of wires. I may need to get one of those for my own use!
We will be listing these products in the Bike Touring News store even though we may not stock all of them. The distributor has a drop ship program which we will be taking advantage of. I can remember back to just a few years ago when the means for recharging electronics with a dynamo hub were limited, and the ones that were out there were complicated and expensive. The story of everything related to electronics, I suppose. Now, if you have a dynamo hub, there are a number of inexpensive ways to keep the phone and tablet charged even when in the middle of nowhere.