With the recent addition of dynamo power to my Surly Long Haul Trucker, a SON 28 dynamo I wished to make use of my bicycle powered electricity source to charge other electronic devices including my Garmin Edge 800 and Google Nexus S phone. Enter the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable. I installed the Super-i-Cable in December 2011 on my Surly Long Haul Trucker and got to put it to the test on a four day ride through the Darling Range in December. Limited testing at this stage but I think sufficient use to give some feedback on the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable.
I purchased PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable directly from the manufacturer, PedalPower+ in Australia when they had them on special for a delivered price of $153.00. The service from PedalPower+ was great; no issues at all with the delivery.
On my ride around the Darling Ranges I used the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable to do two things for me: power my Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ Cyo Sensor front light and my Busch & Muller Toplight Line Plus rear tail light and to charge my Garmin Edge 800. The lights where set to sensor mode and the Garmin Edge 800 was plugged in full time to the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable. This setup worked well with the Garmin Edge 800 maintaining charge over the full ride as long as the lights didn’t come on. As soon as the lights came on, power to the Garmin was lost. Discussions with Nick at PedalPower+ suggest that this is expected,
I also contacted PedalPower+ for advice on a second issue I am was having and that is the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable is not charging my Google Nexus S phone (rebranded Samsung), a pretty standard smart phone from what I can find out. Â It got worse with the SIC ending up not charging anything at all. Following a few emails with Nick at PedalPower+ to try and solve my initial problem with the phone which then morphed into a bigger issue, PedalPower+ without any hassle at all have replaced my faulty unit with a new one and I am all set to go again. Â More details on my issues can be found near the end of this post.
Unpacking PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable Box?
The PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable comes complete ready to be installed and well packaged in its retail packaging. It does not look like it would be easily damaged in transit which is good to know.
In the box you get:
- iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod charging cable;
- Micro USB cable;
- Mini USB cable;
- Standard female USB cable;
- Nokia 2mm and 3.5 adapters
- Led test cable;
- Piggyback adapter set (electrical connectors);
- Standard (read 26.4 mm) handlebar clip mount
as well as
- International wall charger set;
- External mini USB charging socket;
- Cable ties;
- Bicycle handlebar mount;
- Owners manual
Specifications – PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable
The PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable according to the PedalPower+ “has advanced technology to enable complete compatibility with iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 charging systems as well as being able to charge standard mobile phones, smartphones, Android, GPS and other small electronic devices that can be charged from a USB connection.”
In my language the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable is a charging unit with its own 2200mAh 18650 battery which is charged and/or powered by a dynamo hub of your choice and which in turns sits between the dynamo and the electronic device being charged or powered. It is designed to piggyback of the dynamo wiring connection so the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable can be used concurrently with one’s lighting system if so desired without having to unplug one for the other. It also as I understand it allows for off the bike charging of the electronics due to the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable having its own 2200mAh 18650 battery.
I also believe that having the battery act as an interface so to speak between the dynamo and the electronic device also is a good feature, reducing the likelihood of â€œexternal powerâ€ lost error messages or worse damage to the device.
PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable Dimensions
PedalPower+‘s sizing information for the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable is as follows:
Total length including the enclosure – 140 cm
Cable from dynamo to enclosure – 100 cm
Cable from enclosure to phone – 25 cm
Weight including battery – 135 gm
Enclosure control box – 35mm x 30mm x 110mm.
Setup of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable on my Surly Long Haul Trucker
With the stem mount I can easily monitor the status of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable as well as allowing easy connection to my Garmin Edge 800 which is mounted on the handlebar to the left and/or to my phone etc kept in the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 handle bar bag.
When I was considering how to mount the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable I found the Middle Aged Cyclist review of his setup very handy and took some ideas from what he did. Unlike the Middle Aged Cyclist I really wanted to be able to visually check the status of the unit when on riding along so I choose to mount the unit on the stem rather than on the head tube. I did note the use of Sugru and like the Middle Aged Cyclist I used Sugru (without the finesse) to build up the base of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable to get it to fit better along the stem. I also obtained a hook and loop strap on eBay to further secure the unit to the stem. This also means I can easily remove the unit if I wish.
You can see from the above photo that my Sugru modelling skills are not that great, but despite the lack of skills the Sugru has done the trick nicely, pulling in place a bridge between the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable and the stem on the Surly Long Haul Trucker.
I have also followed the approach of the Middle Aged Cyclist and used Sugru to improve the connectors at the dynamo end. This makes connecting/disconnecting less of a hassle and there is a reduced risk of a wire coming loose.
I did consider using the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable bike mount but it seems to be a pretty weak connection and didnâ€™t inspire me to use it.
Performance of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable
As I mentioned early my use of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable has been limited to a four day tour through the Darling Ranges and I will be honest here I didn’t follow the instructions on how to use it so whilst it worked a treat charging the Garmin Edge 800 I was not able to power the Edge 800 and the lights simultaneously. I thought this was a result of operator error but further testing suggests otherwise. Even riding at speeds in excess of 30 km/h does not result in the unit providing power to the lights and the Garmin Edge 800. The lights got power but not the Garmin Edge 800.
I have raised this issue with Nick at PedalPower+ and his response is as follows:
The output from the SIC or Dynamo is shared if one or more devices are used at the same time and the bulk of the charge will go to the most power hungry device. It also depends on how much charge is in the internal battery of the SIC [Aushiker: fully charged] and how low the batteries are in the other devices [Aushiker: 90% + charged], and of course how fast you are riding at the time of charging as this does affect the output from the dynamo.
Charging or using several devices is where the v4i battery pack comes into play. This can be used to power the Garmin for many hours while the dynamo is used to charge your lights.Â
With all of the above it simply comes back to that a dynamo will only give out a certain amount of power and that is shared across devices.
For the record on the ride around the Darling Ranges I used the unit in the turned off mode which meant it was providing current happily to the Garmin Edge 800 and it did that fine, keeping it fully charged over the four days, but if the lights came on the power would be diverted to the lights and the Edge 800 would pop-up an external power lost error message.
Nick at PedalPower+ also provided an explanation on the on-off switch of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable in the context of Apple and non-Apple phones which I think is worth sharing.
Basically the on/off switch allows access to the power in the internal battery in the SIC, therefore it is used in the on position when charging an iPhone whether riding or not, and when you are charging any device while not riding.
If you have it in the on position when riding and attached to a â€œnon Appleâ€ product you will be charging the device through the internal battery of the SIC and the charge from the dynamo will charge the internal battery of the SIC. It is not necessary generally, to charge a standard phone or device with the SIC in the On position, this function is there for Apple products which tolerate no fluctuation in voltage when charging.
So, you are correct, there appears to be no difference in charging your device whether in the on or off position when riding, but the difference is as above. Both positions are safe to use with non Apple products.
With the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable, the connectors for various devices appear to be proprietary in that the connecting to the unit itself is a plug style connection, rather than a USB connection. This means it is important to (a) remember to take the specific connecting cables required for one’s electronics and to (b) not lose them! Not an easy fix in the field.
Finally the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable can be charged via the mains and in the instructions require this before it is used for the first time. This is handy as it means one can hit the road with a fully charged unit or if in town or a campsite one can boost charge the unit if desired. I found the initial charge took about three hours which is not too bad.
Update September 2012 – PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable disappoints on Chasing the Dirt bicycle tour
October 1, 2012: Nick at PedalPower+ has advised that he is sending me a replacement unit, my second one. This is great customer service. I followed up with Nick re the the cable issue and he assures me that this is not a common issue so maybe I was just unlucky and the Super-i-Cable should be good for further touring duties. I hope so!
I have recently completed a 40 day bicycle tour into the outback regions of Western Australia, my Chasing the dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by bicycle tour into the Gascoyne. It had been my intention to use the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable to power or recharge my electronic devices (Garmin Edge 800, Apple iPad 2, Apple iPod Shuffle, Samsun Galaxy S2 phone, Olympus XZ-1 camera). Unfortunately during the tour, in fact early in the tour, I started having problems with the output cable on the Super-i-Cable which was having internmittmant connection problems with what ever was plugged in for charging. After a bit of testing I came to the conclusion that the problem was at the connection end of the cable. It seems that the wiring connection was not robust. Unfortunately my continued having to wriggle the connection no doubt made it worse. In the end I tried a couple of means of getting at least a reasonably reliable connection to the Garmin Edge 800. You can see my attempts from the photo. The first was to use a tent repair pole tube. That last a couple of days. I then used some tie wire wrapped around the cable and taped over to try and create a connection that was reonsably rigided. This worked reasonably well, but did require a wiggle ever now and then.
However all this meant that I could only use the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable to charge the Garmin Edge 800 as this was the only electronic device that used a normal USB connection. I didn’t want to have to try and get a connection each time I wanted to charge a device.
So for me I do have concerns that the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable may not be enough to handle life on a touring bicycle and will be giving some thought to replacing it with probably a Busch & Mueller E-werk if the replacement unit lets me down again.
Update March 2012 – PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable Faulty and PedalPower+’s Customer Service
As mentioned at the top of this post I found in February 2012 that my PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable was not charging my Google Nexus S phone. I emailed Nick at PedalPower+ for his advice on this matter and he suggested that I should use an adaptor rather than a cable to connect the SIC to the phone. It seems that the phone can sensitive to the type of connector used. As my kit did not include the adaptor being suggested Nick quickly dropped one in the mail to me.
Unfortunately the adaptor didn’t make any difference. At this point I thought I should double check that theÂ PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable was still actually charging my Garmin Edge and I thought I would try it with my Jumbo #11 808HD camcorder so I could give Nick a complete picture. Well to my surprise it was no longer charging anything at all. I emailed Nick about this and he immediately replied that he would send me a new unit. At this point I offered to send him my unit back as he thought it could be just be a faulty wiring connection. Given the customer service I had received to date I was more than happy to send my unit in. Well I was delayed in posting so didn’t get it away till a week or so after agreeing to post it. As it turned out I posted it on a Saturday and by the following Tuesday I had received a new unit. Nick I suspect had given up waiting for me and sent me a new unit. The new unit works a treat!
As it turns out the original mini-USB cable and the mini-USB adaptor both allow for the charge the Google Nexus S phone and then for the record it does charge my Contour HD 1080P camera and my Jumbo #11 808HD camera.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of the PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable
- Easy to setup and installation;
- Full set of cables and connectors – no need to hunt around for piggyback connectors for example;
- International wall charging plug setup;
- Instructions are easy to follow if you read them;
- Excellent customer service from Nick at PedalPower+.
- Proprietary cables for connecting electronic devices;
- Unable to provide power to the lights and Garmin Edge 800 simultaneously;
- Weak bike handlebar mount
- Durability for bicycle touring in question – failure of the output cable very disappointing.
- No ugly matters.