Over the years Bikerumor has seen pedal-powered Interbike Margaritas, the London pedal-powered Espresso cart, small electric generators to strap onto your home trainer, and even concept bikes that collect energy while you ride and later power your home. Those are great, but how often are you making margaritas or coffee?
The Pedal Power project by co-founders Steve Blood and Andy Wekin of Essex, NY, is building real-world solutions to generate power while sitting behind a desk, something too many of us spend far too much time doing. Sit ‘n’ spin past the break to see the bike desk in action…
Over the past five years, the small company has developed a unique multipurpose cycle powered generator platform, which they have been custom fabricating to meet the individual needs of their customers; for farmers, brewers, educators, and anyone else looking for energy independence.
Now, Pedal Power has funded their project on Kickstarter. Funds will be used to refine a new, more robust model of the power generator coupled to a desk, and to finalize the design of an open-source set of plans to allow individuals to build their own. The recently updated Big Rig desk to come out of their crowd funding scheme joins their more portable Pedal Genny system in their offerings.
The Big Rig is their standard, heavy-duty energy generating work surface setup, where an average rider/worker can put out 100 watts of electrical power through an optional built-in generator. The Pedal Power desk is a large stable platform that can be adapted to almost any task requiring mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic power.
The Pedal Genny, on the other hand, was designed as a more portable system to serve a single function, and would be more akin to a portable rear wheel trainer vs. the Big Rig’s exercise machine analog.
Both systems are adjustable for the differing leg lengths of most users and incorporate a wide range of gearing on full-sized cranks and a flywheel to smooth pedaling motion. And Pedal Power did address the stability concerns that have plagued other similar bike desk solutions. Either system can have an electric generator attached, as well as other common mechanical attachments like a hydraulic pump or direct mechanical driveshaft.
Even though the primary goal of their Kickstarter campaign was to refine a set of open-source plans for the Big Rig, Pedal Power still continues to offer this and other custom-built solutions to harness human power through the cycling interface. Fabrication is very time consuming now, and so Blood and Wekin don’t really see this as a product that is going to make them rich just by selling more of them. What they would rather see is a handful of people capable of fabricating the cycle generators to get ahold of the open-source plans and become Pedal Power advocates, making the bike desks available wherever there is demand.
This open network approach also looks like it will help foster innovative applications of Pedal Power desks. So far they have already been modified to grind soy grains to feed chickens, to power a commercial sewing machine, to churn butter, and to pump well water; all beyond the original solution of generating electricity to power a laptop and phone.
The two have an interesting outlook on what the Pedal Power desk can do to open up people’s eyes about what it really means to consume energy. Everyone can understand that there is some impact or carbon footprint to our using electricity to run our phones and laptops, but it is pretty difficult to truly understand or quantify the impact until you pedal to power your daily electronics. Blood and Wekin also recognize that there is a huge potential in the number of people who sit at a desk all day, but would really rather be a bit more active, and would really look forward to a time when cycle power generation becomes more affordable and widely available.
While the majority of these efforts seem to focus on applications where energy independence is a choice, Pedal Power continues to work with partners to develop solutions for locations where reliable power is not available.