If you're the kind of person that likes to use their smartphone as a bike computer, or simply wants to keep it charged during a cycling day, then this might be of interest: the Siva Atom USB generator, designed by US duo of Aaron Latzke & David Delcourt, is currently getting a lot of love on Kickstarter, with its $85,000 funding goal already well surpassed.
There's a number of ways of getting USB power to your devices on the bike, and most of them invlove a hub dynamo and some external gubbins to turn that rather variable energy source into something more usable. This is what the Atom does too, but instead of using a hub system it simply attaches to your existing rear wheel with the quick release clamping it in place. The internal electronics smooth out the power signal allowing you to plug in your phone while you're riding; obviously you'll need to run a USB cable to wherever you've put it and the Atom comes with a 3ft extension cord to run an under-seat USB port. Alternatively the Atom has a removeable battery pack which charges up while you're pedalling; you can take that with you to charge your device at your leisure once you've stopped.
It's pretty cheap, too: the Kickstarter campiagn allows you to get an Atom for $95 (plus $20 international shipping) but even at the full retail price of $105 it's cheaper than many hub dynamos, and you don't need to get a new wheel built or buy any external electronics. Inside there's only three moving parts to transmit wheel drive to the generator; it's shown in the video attached to a range of cycles and looks designed to work with a standard quick-release wheel, although from the video and description it's unclear exactly how it engages with the hub. "The Atom is designed to fit on the rear wheel of rim-brake bicycles with just two prerequisites: 1) a minimum of 20mm of space between the rear dropout and hub flange (where the spokes mount), and 2) the hub flange must be less than 3.0” diameter", the Kickstarter page explains. "We’ve tested a large number of traditional, urban, performance, and touring bikes (it works with panniers and fenders!) and nearly all have met these requirements. Bicycles outfitted with disc brakes may have the option of installing the Atom on the non-disc side of the front wheel, provided that there is 20mm of space between the front dropout and the hub flange"
Funding currently stands at just over $110,000 with eight days to go; that means that one stretch goal has been reached: integrating status lights into the unit. If the Atom makes it past $130,000 then Latzke and Delcourt have committed to enhance the electronics, doubling the output for faster charging times. They're also partnering with charities in the developing world and have pledged to donate one Atom for every ten sold.
For more info on the Atom, see the Kickstarter page.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.