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TECH TALK: Cyclists harness pedal power with 'Atom'


May 01. 2013 12:34AM
By Nick DeLorenzo, Special to the Weekender



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Spring is upon us, and summer is closing in.

I'm starting to see cyclists everywhere as the weather warms up.

I've noted that many riders are using a variety of apps, for a variety of reasons: GPS-enabled applications to track their progress, speed, and route; apps that remind you when it's time to hydrate; and even good ol' fashioned music apps.

But what happens when your battery dies? What do you do then? For people on extended bike rides, all of those apps use up a whole ton of power.

Sure, there are power packs, extended batteries, and all sorts of other gadgets and gizmos you can use to keep your phone charged, but at some point, you're going to run out of power.

More to the point, all of that represents extra weight you've got to lug around.

A company called Siva Cycle has stepped in to solve this problem with a product called “Atom,” a small generator and battery pack that mounts to the frame of a bicycle.

The Atom has a USB port, so devices can be charged using their standard cables, and the power output is the same as a computer's USB power jack, so, according to the company, it will charge a device just as quickly as a desktop computer.

Using bicycles to generate power is nothing new; dynamo-type generators have been powering lights on bicycles for decades.

The Atom is different – it uses a magnetic rotor mounted on the actual hub of the bicycle wheel to generate electricity, without generating additional drag on the wheel itself.

Out of the box, the Atom comes with the generator itself, a removable battery pack with a USB plug, a three-foot-long adhesive ribbon cord that carries the power from the generator to wherever your device is stored, and some other accessories to help mount the device. According to the company, no tools other than those required to remove the bicycle wheel are required.

The Atom will fit any bike with a hub flange less than three inches in diameter and a minimum of 20mm of space between the wheel dropout and the hub flange.

Bikes with disc brakes may need to mount the Atom on the front wheel, provided that there is clearance, but a separate version for bikes with disc brakes is in the works.

The Atom is a Kickstarter project and is not yet available for purchase; it's set to begin shipping in November for early adapters who contribute $85 or more to the campaign.

After that, it will retail for $105.

For more information on the Atom, visit kickstarter.com/projects/332999904/the-siva-cycle-atom-powering-your-life-one-pedal-a.

-Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at ndelorenzo@timesleader.com.




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