Friday, December 7, 2012

BikeCharge Dynamo Light: The Final Chapter

A few months ago, we started testing a new combination dynamo/light/USB charger that looked like a great new product. Our initial impressions were good, but problems soon began mounting.

First, the killer feature of the BikeCharge--the ability to charge USB-powered devices while riding--didn't work on our test unit (more on this later in this post). We asked for and received a replacement unit and installed it on one of our bikes.

The second unit worked well in terms of providing light, but it soon began making a huge amount of noise. It sounded like something was amiss in the mechanicals inside the BikeCharge. We never had the chance to try out the USB function, because the noise was intolerable.

We decided to take a look inside the first test unit to see if we could figure out why the USB charging wasn't working, and made an interesting discovery: the port that the USB wiring plugs into had broken off of the circuit board (see photo). Apparently, all that was resisting the force of the plug entering the unit was two very small solder joints.

In summary, the BikeCharge is a great concept that does some things well (in our testing, it ran with very low drag and put out enough light to ride by at moderate speeds). Unfortunately, in practice the unit suffers from poor design and workanship. Between broken internals and noisy mechanicals, both of the BikeCharges we tried failed to deliver on their promise.

If you're interested in trying out the BikeCharge for yourself, you can order it online here.

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