I recently reviewed the Pedal Power + (PP+) V4i dynamo battery kit, a tool I’ve been using for a few years to live without the need for power points and to make my cycling trips that bit more sustainable.
What is it?
The SIC is a cable which connects directly to the dynamo hub and collects power when we average over about 9km/h (Schmidt SON28 hub). We can charge some devices whilst we ride (eg iPhone or Garmin GPS), but others suck up too much power when they charge, and these need to be dealt with when the battery is full and off the bike.
Cost: $150 AUD
Size: Battery enclosure (11cm x 3.5cm x 3cm) and cable (100cm from hub to enclosure, 25cm enclosure to end of charge cable)
What does it come with?
Connectors: iPhone/iPod, female USB cable, micro USB, mini USB, Nokia adapters, piggyback electrical connectors and test cable.
Other: International wall charging kit, cable ties, handlebar mount and manual.
How long does it take to charge to full?
The SIC battery takes about three-four hours of consistent riding over 9km/h to fill up.
What can we charge when the battery is full?
Garmin Edge 800 GPS to 100% x1
Apple iPhone to 100% x1.5
Sony TX10 camera to 100% x1
Battery charger for C123 batteries to 100% x1
What can’t you charge with the SIC?
The only USB-powered devices we can’t charge from the SIC are our iPad 3’s (10w). We have heard from Aushiker that he is able to charge his iPad 2 (5w) from the SIC, however the iPad is not indicating that it is charging, even when the power is slowly dripping through.
If you would like to top up the power on your iPad 3 from dynamo power, you should use the SIC in conjunction with the V4i battery – like us. The V4i will charge an iPad 3, post ride.
Mounting the SIC to your bike
This is where the SIC looses points as it isn’t the neatest design going around (what wins here is Supernova’s Plug II). The issue is that the cable and battery are hard to mount in a manner which makes it easy to take off when parking your bike. We park our bike in public spaces regularly, making this a key concern.
As I use front pannier bags – I am able to wrap the SIC cable once around the fork leg and pop it straight into the top of my bag. For bike tourers with front panniers, this is the option I highly recommend. For the times I need power as I ride (occasional), I slip the SIC into my handlebar bag.
It seems like these are two good ways to mount without front panniers:
If you are happy to keep the SIC on your bike when parking, then zip ties / velcro straps will do you fine. The SIC does come with a handlebar mount, but it doesn’t fit all handlebars and still doesn’t solve the cable mounting issues.
User replaceable battery
Mega bonus points here. The SIC batteries when they reach the end of their life are replaceable. There are so many products these days which die when the battery gives way; this is not one of them.
Using the SIC with the V4i
If your after a bit more battery capacity (for iPads and various other USB devices like us) we recommend using it in conjunction with the V4i kit. The SIC cable connects directly to the V4i battery and will charge both simultaneously.
The SIC is the perfect device for keeping your phone and GPS alive on extended bicycle tours. It is light, simple and user friendly. It charges up quickly enough even over steep terrain, leaving you with power when you most need it.
The bit that we don’t like is the mounting system; if we didn’t use a front pannier it would be a pain to wrap around our fork leg and connect to our bike frame after leaving our bike on the street for extended periods.
What we request for the SIC2 (one day?) is a splitter 100cm up the cable which allows us to permanently mount the cable to the bike, and then we can simply plug in the battery enclosure when needed.
You can get your hands on a Pedal Power Plus Super-I-cable on their website.