Review and Giveaway: Bike2Power for the iPhone and Smartphone

Are you looking to generate power for your electrical device while on the bike?  Our friend @bobridesabike is here to give you one super detailed review of the Spin POWER 4 for the iPhone 4, made by Bike2Power. Oh, and be sure to make your way down to the bottom of his review for details on how you can win a Touring Edition SpinPOWER S1-R Universal Smartphone Bicycle Charger.

The Bike2Power Spin POWER 4 for iPhone Review

by Bob Avery

Have you ever toured on your bike?  Packed up gear for multiple days and planned on camping at night?  But you wanted to stay connected to the world, so you took your cell phone?  If so, did you encounter challenges to recharging your phone while on this adventure?  If you’ve ever ridden RAGBRAI (a week-long ride across Iowa), you know what I’m talking about.

As a cyclist, how do you monitor and map your rides?  Unless you’re a hardcore cyclist with specific piece of hardware, such as a Garmin, you might use one of the many cycling apps (such as Map My Ride, Strava, or Cyclemeter) available for smart phones.  But, if you’ve used them for rides much longer than a couple of hours, you’ll have noticed that these apps can be a complete battery suck.  The GPS that provides so much of the data output also drains the power from battery. So, if you’re planning a long ride, how do you take advantage of these apps?

Bike2Power brings back an old school solution to generating power for your electrical device.  In this case, for your smart phone.  There are two models available: the Spin POWER 1 for most smart phones and Spin POWER 4 for the iPhone 4.  (The Spin POWER 3 for the iPhone 3 has been discontinued.)  I have been given the opportunity to test the Spin POWER 4 for Loving the Bike.

The Bike2Power uses a dynamo system to generate power from the wheels, much like old school bike lights.

The dynamo, shown on the right, is mounted on the bike to rub against the wheel.  The resulting friction generates electricity to power the light.

Using this same principle, the Spin POWER devices generate the power to recharge your smart phones while on the road.  The kits include all required components: phone holder or cradle, mounting brackets, the dynamo, connector cables, USB charger, and a “cap” for the dynamo.  Bike2POWER claims that it’s easy to attach, simple to use, fits most bicycle frames and requires no retrofitting to your bike or spokes.  The only thing not included, besides your phone, is the USB cable for your phone to plug into your charger.  Since this is generally included with your phone when you buy it, you should already have one (or more!).

So how did they do?

I have used the Spin POWER 4 a few times and am impressed with it, over all.  It does its job of safely recharging your iPhone as you ride.  There are a couple of challenges to the unit, however.

Mounting: The charger and phone cradle mount to the handlebar: This is pretty easy to do.  The unit can accommodate handlebars up to one inch (1”) in diameter.  My handlebars, however, have padded tape with the brake cables underneath and was wider (in diameter) than the mounting bracket.  I ended up cutting the brake cable loose from under the bar tape in order to mount the unit.  In addition, the phone cradle and charging unit is rather large.  On my road bike, it takes up space where I might normally place my hands.  On a mountain bike, this would not be an issue.

The dynamo mounting bracket: Mounting it off the front fork was more challenging, in part because of the large size of the fork on my bike.  I was able to mount it two different ways – on the right side behind the fork and on the left in front of it.  The left side mount is where it is now.  The challenge for Bike2Power is that there is only one manufacturer of mounting brackets for the dynamo.  So they, and we, are stuck with what is available.

Here’s a look at the installation process:

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