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Let’s Talk Energy – Electricity Generating Bike

Try out this bike on most Sundays and Mondays at YTM between April 8th and May 14th.

Specific Dates at YTM: April 8,9, 15,16,19,20, 22,23, 29,30 May 6,7, 13,14

What is it?

The electricity-generating bike is from Rock the Bike, a San Francisco company. There is a generator in the front tire that generates electricity with each rotation. Electricity flows from the tire to the power box (small wooden box), and then controls how much energy will go up into the LED light tower.

How does the generator work?

When you pedal the bike, the energy generated in the wheel flows into the capacitors. Capacitors hold the energy generated, and are quick to charge and discharge. After the energy charges the capacitors, the energy is transferred to the inverter which converts the current from direct current to alternating current that can be used to power most electronics.

What does the power box do?

The bike is attached to the power box, which contains a series of capacitors and an inverter, which allows us to plug common items into the box and power them with the energy produced by the bike.  It also helps to make sure that power surges (up to 1500 watts) are regulated.

How much power am I generating?

This depends on the setting you have the Power Box on. The easiest setting is 200W, up to 600W for the hardest setting on the other side. For younger students, we usually keep it closer to the easiest setting. Most adults we put it at the middle, and more athletic we put close to the hardest.

Adjusting the knob on the power box will change the amount of power generated. Note however, that we’ve found the adjustment knob is opposite of what it says.

(from Rock the Bike’s website: https://rockthebike.com/how-many-people-will-it-take-to-power-my-laptop-and-projector-or-any-device/ )

What do the lights tell us?

The resistance of the bike will feel different when you pedal at the various difficulty settings. When you are at the easiest, all of the LED lights will go on, and then do a series of flashes a few times until the halogens at the top are turned on. In the harder settings, when you have enough power the halogens at the top simply start flashing.

Flashing LEDS mean that you are losing power. A stable lit-up panel means you are staying about the same. The LEDs do not take up a lot of electricity. It is the halogen lights at the top that are big consumers. We usually explain to students that around halfway they’ve stored enough for a modern LED TV, closer to the top they would have enough for a video game console, but not necessarily the TV as well.  This also varies depending on what setting the bike is generating power.

Adjusting the knob on the power box will change the amount of power generated.


Other Information:

-Visit Let’s Talk Energy’s website for games, resources, and an Energy 101 series: https://energy.techno-science.ca/en/educational-resources.php

-A TED talk featuring the founder of Rock the Bike:


-More information on some of the peripherals: