Letter Re: Bike Frame-Mounted DC Power Generators

Just a follow-up to the question about bicycle power: If you do a Google search on the phrase “bicycle power generator” then several interesting options come up. One is a web site that offers free plans.

JWR Replies: Just keep in mind that every hour spent trudging away on a bike frame generator is an hour that you could also use doing something else productive. Dollar for dollar and hour for hour, photovoltaic panels are the way to go–they make power every day with minimal maintenance. I consider bike-frame mounted generators fairly specialized devices for peculiar circumstances, such as when someone is cooped up in a fallout shelter. My general advice is: Yes, go ahead and build one, but make it readily adaptable to multiple purposes, by using perforated box beam construction for the back half. This is similar to the construction method often used for hobby-built electric go-carts and similar projects. With perforated steel box beams, you will minimize the amount of welding needed to fairly quickly reconfigure the back half. For example, you could attach various pulleys and V-belts that can in turn be attached to a Country Living grain mill, a meat grinder, or a metal grinding/sharpening wheel.