FAQ

Revolution USB Charger

  • What devices can I charge with the Revolution?

    • The Revolution output is a standard USB charger (5V), and can provide up to 1 Amp. If your device can charge from a standard USB connector, it should be able to charge from the Revolution. This includes iPhones®, smartphones, GPS devices, USB battery packs, headlights, rechargeable speakers, etc...
  • How fast do I have to ride to charge my phone?

    • With a hub generator, charging starts at only 3.5 MPH (5.5 km/h), although this can depend on your device's ability to trickle charge. At only 9 MPH (14.4 km/h), charging is as fast as a wall-powered charger.
  • Will I damage the Revolution when I ride too fast?

    • No, you will not. Many dynamo-powered electronics suffer from this problem. Even products that claim to be “protected” will actually draw extra power and heat up when you go faster than about 20 mph (35 km/h). The Revolution has a novel, integrated protection circuit that will not draw extra power or heat up at any speed.
  • Is the Revolution weather resistant?

    • Yes. The Revolution can be left on your bike in the rain. Click here to see the Revolution working under water!
  • How can the Revolution be so waterproof with an open USB connector?

    • First, the electronics are fully encapsulated in epoxy. This means that water can not touch any of the components, even if it gets past the connector.
    • Second, the USB connector itself features gold plated contacts that will not rust or corrode.
  • Can the Revolution stand up to shocks, vibrations, and off-road riding?

    • Yes. The electronics are fully encapsulated in epoxy. In addition to providing complete protection from the elements, this makes the Revolution extremely resistant to bumps and vibrations.
  • Why does it take 10 seconds for charging to begin?

    • Some devices, such as the iPhone®, require a minimum amount of power to charge correctly. If charging begins before input power is sufficient, the device may refuse to charge. The 10 second delay gives you time to reach a minimum speed. This allows you to charge an iPhone® or other devices that would not otherwise charge correctly.
  • How do I mount the Revolution to my bike?

    • The Revolution can be mounted anywhere on the bike with the included zip-tie. If you plan to often install and remove the Revolution, we recommend using a reusable zip-tie. Alternatively, the Revolution is small enough that it can easily be placed in a pannier or handlebar bag.
  • Does the Revolution have a built-in battery?

    • No - and this is a good thing. Most chargers that include a "cache battery" do so because they are not efficient enough to directly charge a phone - they must slowly charge a battery, then charge the phone from the battery. This adds further inefficiency to the system, as well as a delay while the internal battery is charged. The Revolution is able to directly charge your phone, making the cache battery unnecessary.
    • Some chargers have a larger built-in battery, meant to store a large amount of energy. There are several reasons we don't like this system:
      1. Product lifetime. Batteries wear out. Even the highest quality lithium ion battery is rated for about 3 years from manufacturing, independent of how much you use it. There's nothing in the Revolution that wears out. When you build up a touring bike you select parts based on reliability and durability first, and everything else second. We want the Revolution to be the same way.
      2. Efficiency. The extra steps to charge the battery, then use the battery to power the output is a significant hit on efficiency. Most users directly charge their phone, and the extra conversion steps mean wasted energy.
      3. Flexibility. A product with an internal battery is stuck with that one battery, which may be too small for some users and too large for others. There are many USB battery packs available in all sorts of shapes and sizes and capacities. The freedom to use a battery that fits your bike and your tour is lost when an internal battery is used. This also allows the Revolution to be as small as possible.
  • Will the Revolution work with my dynamo?

    • Yes. The Revolution can be used with any hub, bottle or spoke dynamos. Any standard 6V/3W dynamo will generate enough power for the Revolution to charge your device. We have also had good results with 6V/2.4W dynamos.  The less-common 12V/6W dynamo can be used as well.
  • How do I connect the Revolution to my Dynamo?

    • This varies by dynamo type and manufacturer. The exposed ends of the wire can be used to connect to any dynamo. Consult your dynamo’s instruction manual.
  • Can I use the Revolution and my lights at the same time?

    • Yes. Simply connect the wires to the dynamo along with the headlight cable (in parallel). The dynamo power will be shared by the Revolution and the headlight, so we advise unplugging your phone/gps/device being charged to ensure that your headlights are at full brightness. You do not need to disconnect the Revolution - it draws practically zero power when not charging a device. .
  • Can I use the Revolution with an e-Bike battery?

    • Yes. The Revolution works with e-Bike batteries up to 48V. The Revolution has no polarity to worry about when connecting to a battery.
  • Can I use the Revolution with a regular battery?

    • Yes. The Revolution works with any DC input voltage above 6V, up to 52V. This means the Revolution can be used as an emergency charger with a 9V battery, car battery, 4 AA or AAA batteries, etc.
  • Can I use the Revolution with a solar panel?

    • Yes. A solar panel generates DC voltage so the Revolution will work with a solar panel the same way it works with a battery.
  • Will the Revolution damage my device?

    • No. The output is fixed at 5V, so unlike chargers with an “adjustable” output, you can not accidentally damage your device with incorrect settings. The high speed overload protection circuitry will protect the Revolution and your device from the high voltage generated when you go fast.
  • How much power does the Revolution draw when it is not in use?

    • By itself, the Revolution draws only 0.025W at 35 km/h.
  • What if I have a question that isn't answered here?

Reactor USB Charger

  • What devices can I charge with the Reactor?

    • The Reactor output is a standard USB charger (5V), and can provide up to 1 Amp.  If your device can charge from a standard USB connector, it should be able to charge from the Reactor.  This includes iPhones®, smartphones, GPS devices, USB battery packs, headlights, rechargeable speakers, etc...
  • How fast do I have to ride to charge my phone?

    • With a hub generator, charging starts at only 3.5 MPH (5.5 km/h), although this can depend on your device's ability to trickle charge.  At only 9 MPH (14.4 km/h), charging is as fast as a wall-powered charger.
  • Will I damage the Reactor when I ride too fast?

    • No, you will not.  Many dynamo-powered electronics suffer from this problem.  Even products that claim to be “protected” will actually draw extra power and heat up when you go faster than about 20 mph (35 km/h).  The Reactor has a novel, integrated protection circuit that will not draw extra power or heat up at any speed. 
  • Is the Reactor weather resistant?

    • Yes.  The Reactor is waterproof and can be left out in the rain.
  • How can the Reactor be so waterproof with an open USB connector?

    • First, the electronics are fully encapsulated in epoxy.  This means that water can not touch any of the components, even if it gets past the connector.
    • Second, the USB connector itself features gold plated contacts that will not rust or corrode.
  • Can the Reactor stand up to shocks, vibrations, and off-road riding?

    • Yes.  The electronics are fully encapsulated in epoxy.  In addition to providing complete protection from the elements, this makes the Reactor extremely resistant to bumps and vibrations.
  • Why does it take 10 seconds for charging to begin? 

    • Some devices, such as the iPhone®, require a minimum amount of power to charge correctly.  If charging begins before input power is sufficient, the device may refuse to charge.  The 10 second delay gives you time to reach a minimum speed.  This allows you to charge an iPhone® or other devices that would not otherwise charge correctly.
  • Does the Reactor have a built-in battery?

    • No - and this is a good thing.  Most chargers that include a "cache battery" do so because they are not efficient enough to directly charge a phone - they must slowly charge a battery, then charge the phone from the battery.  This adds further inefficiency to the system, as well as a delay while the internal battery is charged.  The Reactor is able to directly charge your phone, making the cache battery unnecessary.
    • Some chargers have a larger built-in battery, meant to store a large amount of energy.  There are several reasons we don't like this system:
      1. Product lifetime.  Batteries wear out.  Even the highest quality lithium ion battery is rated for about 3 years from manufacturing, independent of how much you use it.  There's nothing in the Reactor that wears out.  When you build up a touring bike you select parts based on reliability and durability first, and everything else second.  We want the Reactor to be the same way.
      2. Efficiency.  The extra steps to charge the battery, then use the battery to power the output is a significant hit on efficiency.  Most users directly charge their phone, and the extra conversion steps mean wasted energy.
      3. Flexibility.  A product with an internal battery is stuck with that one battery, which may be too small for some users and too large for others.  There are many USB battery packs available in all sorts of shapes and sizes and capacities.  The freedom to use a battery that fits your bike and your tour is lost when an internal battery is used.  This also allows the Reactor to be as small as possible.
  •  Will the Reactor work with my dynamo?

    • Yes.  The Reactor can be used with any hub, bottle or spoke dynamos.  Any standard 6V/3W dynamo will generate enough power for the Reactor to charge your device.  We have also had good results with 6V/2.4W dynamos.  The less-common 12V/6W dynamo can be used as well.
  • How do I connect the Reactor to my Dynamo?

    • This varies by dynamo type and manufacturer.  The exposed ends of the wire can be used to connect to any dynamo.  Consult your dynamo’s instruction manual.
  • Can I use the Reactor and my lights at the same time?

    • Yes.  Simply connect the wires to the dynamo along with the headlight cable (in parallel).  The dynamo power will be shared by the Reactor and the headlight, so we advise unplugging your phone/gps/device being charged to ensure that your headlights are at full brightness.  You do not need to disconnect the Reactor - it draws practically zero power when not charging a device. .
  • Can I use the Reactor with an e-Bike battery? 

    • Yes.  The Reactor works with e-Bike batteries up to 48V.  The Reactor has no polarity to worry about when connecting to a battery. 
  • Can I use the Reactor with a regular battery?

    • Yes.  The Reactor works with any DC input voltage above 6V, up to 52V.  This means the Reactor can be used as an emergency charger with a 9V battery, car battery, 4 AA or AAA batteries, etc.
  • Can I use the Reactor with a solar panel?

    • Yes.  A solar panel generates DC voltage so the Reactor will work with a solar panel the same way it works with a battery.
  • Will the Reactor damage my device?

    • No.  The output is fixed at 5V, so unlike chargers with an “adjustable” output, you can not accidentally damage your device with incorrect settings.  The high speed overload protection circuitry will protect the Reactor and your device from the high voltage generated when you go fast.
  • How much current does the Reactor draw when it is not in use?

    • By itself, the Reactor draws only 1.6mA.
  • What if I have a question that isn't answered here?

     

Beacon Headlight

 What input power options are available?

    The Beacon can be powered by a dynamo, an external USB battery pack, or both.  An external USB battery can be connected using the barrel connector on the back of the light.  A USB-to-barrel cable is available.  The external battery will maintain high brightness and steady output, even when stopped.  When you begin riding, the power from the dynamo will begin to replace the power from the battery until you reach a speed where the dynamo is able to provide all of the power, and the battery is no longer used.  When you slow down the light resumes using the battery so the beam doesn't dim or flicker.

      How does the integrated USB charger work?

        The Beacon includes circuitry from our Revolution and Reactor chargers.  The USB output is available from a standard USB-A connector on the back of the light.  Connect your device directly to the USB port, or use a USB extension cable and put the connector anywhere you want.

          Is the USB charger always enabled?

            Yes.  The USB charger is enabled whether the light is on or off.  When the light is off, all the power from the dynamo can be used by the charger.  When the light is in Charger Priority Mode, a small amount of power will first be used by the light and the remainder will be available to the charger.  It is not recommended to use the charger while the light is in high brightness mode.

              What if I have limited clearance behind the headlight?

                We have space-saving right-angle cables available.  These cables also allow the wires to easily follow the mounting hardware for secure wire management.

                  What is Charger Priority Mode?

                    Other setups with a separate headlight and charger can do both at the same time, but the two devices are not designed to share power from the dynamo - the headlight can dim or flicker, depending on the power used by the charger, and the charger will require a faster speed to make up for the power used by the headlight.
                      Since the Beacon includes both the light and charger, they do a better job of working together.  Using Charger Priority Mode, the headlight will always maintain at least a reduced output - sufficient for a daytime running light or commuting on a lit street or path.  The charger gets priority to all remaining power, meaning your USB device will charge at much lower speeds because only a small, limited amount of power is used by the light.  Once sufficient power is available to the USB device, any additional power from the dynamo will be used by the light.  If your device is unplugged or done charging, all power will go to the light.

                          Can I charge the same battery that I use to power the light?

                          Yes.  Because the connectors on the battery are input only or output only, you'll need to connect two cables - a USB cable from the Beacon USB port to the battery input, and a USB-to-barrel from the battery output to the Beacon barrel connector.

                          You can either leave both cables connected or connect only one at a time, depending on whether you are using the charger or the light.

                          Are there multiple brightness settings?

                            Yes.  With the switch in the 'up' position, the battery will provide full brightness.  With the switch in the 'down' position, the battery will provide low brightness.  This can be used while riding but is also useful while setting up camp or making dinner.
                              When using the dynamo the light output is always maximized.  The brightness settings only affect the power used from the external battery.

                                How bright is the light?

                                  Peak output when using dynamo power is 750 lumens.  A 700c/PV-8 wheel reaches this output at just 13 MPH.
                                    Battery powered output is 600/100 for High/Low.
                                      Dynamo power is optimized at low-to-medium speeds, providing much more light in this range than any other headlight.  The Beacon provides 200 lumens at 5 MPH, 500 lumens at 8 MPH, and 650 lumens at 10 MPH. 

                                            What shape is the beam?

                                              The beam is round/symmetrical.  This makes the Beacon an ideal choice for bikepacking, mountain biking, or any offroad riding.  The Beacon can be used on-road as well.

                                                Can I use a dynamo taillight?

                                                  Yes, the Beacon includes a taillight output wire.  The taillight is controlled by the headlight, turned on and off along with the headlight.

                                                  The Beacon is compatible with taillights that do not ground to the bicycle frame.  See this page for more information.  Contact us if you have questions about a particular taillight.

                                                    Is there a standlight?

                                                      Yes.  A supercapacitor is charged while riding and will provide more than 5 minutes of "be seen" light when stopped.
                                                        The standlight cannot be turned off - it will continue to illuminate the light, even if the light is switched off.
                                                          If using an external USB battery the light will use the battery and remain at the selected High/Med/Low brightness level indefinitely.
                                                            The supercapacitor is only changed from the dynamo.  The external battery will not charge the supercapacitor.  This is typically preferred as the battery itself provides power when stopped.  It also allows the light to be switched completely off when using only battery power.

                                                              Is the Beacon waterproof?

                                                                Yes, the Beacon can be used in the rain and can be left outside.

                                                                  How is the Beacon so waterproof with open connectors?

                                                                    Multiple seals on the lens side protect against water ingress.  On the connector side, all connectors are designed for resistance to the elements, and the electronics are potted in epoxy.

                                                                      How do I install the Beacon on my bicycle?

                                                                        The 10mm mounting tab is compatible with mounting hardware from B&M, Supernova, Schmidt, etc.  There are options for mounting to the fork crown, handlebars, fork blade/dropout, front rack, and other locations.

                                                                          Can I install the Beacon upside-down?

                                                                            Yes.  The beam is symmetrical so there will not be any optical problems if the light is mounted upside down.  There is a small drainage hole in both the top and bottom of the light so water ingress will not be a problem.

                                                                              Dynamo Hubs

                                                                              • What is the difference between the Shutter Precision PV, PD, PL, PDX, PLX, SD, and SV hubs?

                                                                                • PV-8 is for rim brakes.  It has an output rating of 6V/3W
                                                                                • PD-8 is for ISO 6-Bolt disc brakes.  It has an output rating of 6V/3W
                                                                                • PL-8 is for CenterLock disc brakes.  It has an output rating of 6V/3W.
                                                                                • PD-8X is for ISO 6-Bolt disc brakes and a QR15 thru axle.  It has an output rating of 6V/3W.
                                                                                • PL-8X is for CenterLock disc brakes and a QR15 thru axle.  It has an output rating of 6V/3W.
                                                                                • SV-8 is for rim brakes.  It is rated for 6V/2.4W.
                                                                                • SD-8 is for ISO 6-Bolt disc brakes.  It is rated for 6V/2.4W
                                                                              • What is the difference between 6V/3W and 6V/2.4W?

                                                                                • A 3W hub can generate more power.
                                                                                • A 2.4W hub is slightly lighter.
                                                                                • A 2.4W hub can be recommended in a few situations:
                                                                                  • For smaller, 20" wheels.  A smaller wheel will spin faster for the same forward speed, which makes up for the reduced power rating.
                                                                                  • For LED lighting.  LED lights are so efficient that they can produce enough light from a lower powered hub.
                                                                                • A 3W hub is generally recommended for use with a USB charger.  However, the Revolution and Reactor are efficient enough that they can be used with a 2.4W hub, if necessary.
                                                                                • In general, we recommend a 3W hub.  This will give you better charging performance, and a brighter headlight if a charger and headlight are used at the same time.
                                                                              • How do I connect my wires to the hub?

                                                                                • Schmidt hubs:
                                                                                  • To connect a single device:
                                                                                  • To connect two devices:
                                                                                • Shutter Precision, Shimano, and most other hubs:
                                                                                  • To connect two devices, you want to connect them to the hub in parallel:
                                                                                    • Strip about 20mm of insulation from all 4 wires.
                                                                                    • Take one charger wire and one headlight wire and twist them together
                                                                                    • Twist together the remaining two wires.
                                                                              • Why does my hub feel "tight" or "notchy" when I turn it by hand?

                                                                                • From Peter White Cycles: When you hold the wheel or hub in your hand and turn the axle, you'll feel a lot of resistance. There are 26 poles and 26 magnets in the hub. That creates 26 points around the hub shell that the axle wants to settle in, and a corresponding 26 points where the axle doesn't want to be. In the transitions between those points, the axle wants to turn in one direction or the other, to find the point where it wants to settle. As you ride, the hub turns relative to the axle, and 26 times in each rotation of the wheel, the hub wants to turn one way, and then the other, theoretically speeding you up and slowing you down, 26 times per rotation. At speed, the effects of these two forces almost completely cancel each other out, leaving you with extremely low drag overall. It's only when you don't have a lot of mass (your weight) and inertia (your speed) that the effect is to actually retard the rotation of the hub axle. So there's no reason to be concerned about the way the axle feels when turned by hand.

                                                                              Small Parts

                                                                              • How do I install the gold-plated quick-release connectors?