# Another sure-to-fail green idea: Power your home for 24 hours with a bicycle

People send me stuff. This story is making the rounds on Facebook. From Goods Home Design:

60 Minutes On This Bicycle Can Power Your Home For Twenty-Four Hours

Wouldn’t it be great to power your home without having enormous costs to starting a journey on the alternative road? Now, you can achieve that and also take care of your figure! The founder of the Free Electric hybrid bike, Manoj Bhargava, says that his invention uses mechanical energy in the most basic way in order to transform an hour of exercise into supplying rural household with energy for 24 hours. The mechanism is simple: when you pedals, a flywheel is put in action, which turns the generator and thus charging a battery. What better motivation to work out from now on than to power your own home without any costs whatsoever? Watch the video featured to see the bike in action.

Riiiiight.

That idea is not only ridiculous – it is impossible. Normal human metabolism produces heat at a basal metabolic rate of around 80 watts. During a bicycle race, an elite cyclist can produce close to 400 watts of mechanical power over an hour.

A regular person, who isn’t an elite muscular cyclist, might manage half that. The dead-giveaway is in the video itself, where you see the wattmeter displayed while the inventor is cycling peaking at about 274 watts:

Then there is the separate dead-giveaway shot of the voltmeter and ammeter:

From basic electricity, Power = Volts times amps (P=EI) Do the math: 12 volts x 10 amps = 120 watts.

So, at it’s best it might produce 400 watts for an hour is 0.4 kilowatt-hour. More likely the average person will produce 0.2 kilowatt-hour in one hour. At the 0.2 kWh rate, if you cycled 24 hours, you’d produce 4.8 kilowatt-hours

Look at your electric bill and note how many kilowatt-hours you used in a month, and then tell me you can keep up with that, especially in the summer when you need air-conditioning.

According to the EIA, in 2017, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential home customer was 10,399 kilowatt hours (kWh), an average of 867 kWh per month.

That works out to 28.9 kilowatt-hours per day. Compare that to the 4.8 kilowatt-hours per day you’d produce if you were able to cycle on this generator bike 24 hours a day.

The entire idea is laughable, much like the sure to fail (and it did) “solar roads” idea of three years ago. Even Treehugger called it a complete flop.

But given how innumerate the public is these days (math is hard), surely some eco-dupe will buy the generator bike thinking they can power their entire home and are “saving the planet” by “going green”.

Even if the idea was originally to help poor people who have no electricity, there’s this set of complications (from a commenter on the YouTube video):

Antediluvian Atheist
Uh, if people are too poor to afford electricity, they

A: Can’t afford this gizmo,
B: probably don’t have enough use for the electricity,
C: This thing cannot run a fridge or freezer, which is a major use,
D: And people THAT poor probably don’t have the spare calories.

## 191 thoughts on “Another sure-to-fail green idea: Power your home for 24 hours with a bicycle”

1. Bryan A says:

BUUUUUT…
It would be enough energy to run a 20W LED bulb for 10 hours
What more could the energy conscious GREEN individual possibly need more energy for???

Perhaps if you attached 10 flywheels (and had enough gumption to get them ALL spinning) and 10 batteries you could include a small apartment sized refer and possibly a 3″ TV

• Earthling2 says:

I have an old modified chainsaw with a V pulley that I keep around in the back of the pick-up truck so that in an emergency I can jerry rig it up to my alternator if I am stuck and broke down where I live fairly remotely and at least charge the battery to get myself out of a jackpot. But it really does take some time revving that chainsaw to get any serious amps into the battery.

I also had the same sort of contraption set-up on an old bicycle 40 years ago when I was living with kerosene lamps in my trappers cabin and a single 12V battery for an old 9″ CRT TV that took 1.2 amps…about 15-16 watts. And a transistor radio which was much more forgiving. A 25 watt light bulb was a waste of electricity. It sure made me appreciate how much electricity is valued, and I rarely fell asleep with the TV or it was dead battery in the morning. In a pinch, in a power outage, maybe…just to charge the cell phone so I can keep reading WUWT. But then a solar panel would do that too…but now I need to lose weight. Maybe if everyone had to pedal for their electricity demand, they would get a better understanding of what and how much electricity we really consume and why wind and solar will never cut it.

• michael hart says:

It certainly would be a good teaching aid.

“Maybe if everyone had to pedal for their electricity demand, they would get a better understanding of what and how much electricity we really consume and why wind and solar will never cut it.”

Maybe not not everyone, but maybe just all the people who demand we eliminate fossil fuels. And everyone in Hollywood.

• JohnM says:

About 30 years ago my family visited an open-air museum in North Wales. There were wind generators of various designs where we could compare the outputs for the same wind. Various solar set-up (PV, direct heating and concentrated heating) Again the wattage output was demonstrated.
What most interested the children was a bicycle fixed to a generator. Since my eldest son (aged about 14 years) was a keen cyclist he had a ride. We were all amazed at the puny output even though he was pedaling furiously. After 2 minutes he had to give up.
We all learned the lesson that day about the amount or energy we could save by switching off lights, etc.

• Chaswarnertoo says:

CAT Machynlleth. Near me.

• Carbon Bigfoot says:

A suggested teaching tool—Cure for Teenage Climate Activism:

• Ben Vorlich says:

I’ve mentioned here more than once that I grew up in rural Perthshire without the benefit of electricity. Anything that brings even a minimal amount of electricity to communities without is a good thing. Back in 1950s/60s/70s I’d have been truely grateful for a few LED lights round the house. The over hyping of this particular development doesn’t alter the fact that just giving artificial lights and enough power for a doctors surgery and a school would be a quantum leap forward for many rural deprived communities. Modern technology makes this possible. Let’s not confused modern Western individual power requirements with those of a deprived third world community. Any cost effect improvement however small by western standards is an improvement. Communial access to modern communications is still access to them.

My solar PV garden lights run through the night most nights even at this time of year. A modernised version of the 19th century horsemill* powered by an Ox or Horse with battery would cover the needs of many communities.

*Many redundant horsemills were used as storage in the late 20th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_mill

• paul courtney says:

Mr. Vorlich: If a “modernized” horse mill would cover the needs of many communities, how is it that they are not already installed? In many, or some, or even a single community? Deprived communities don’t have horses or oxen? Given your backround, why aren’t you making money supplying horse-drawn generators to these communities? You sound just like the green promoters.

• StephenP says:

My exercise bike says it generates about 70 watts with steady pedaling. (140 watts with fast pedaling but you get tired pretty quickly).
So 60 minutes of cycling would just about produce enough electricity to boil the water for a cup of tea!

• joe-the cyclist says:

FWIW – most exercise bikes and treadmills overstate the wattage, distance, speed by about 20%.
The exercise bike at the gym will show that I went 30-31 miles in 55 minutes, whereas, my typical distance in 60 minutes (out doors) is 21-22 miles.

treadmills have similar errors

• Steve says:

Some of that difference may actually be real, due to the lack of wind resistance when you’re on an exercise machine.

• Why not connect the “Free Electric hybrid bike” up to your electric car and not only throw out the battery but also save energy from the grid?

A very “sustainable” way to power your car.

Cheers

Roger

2. Bryan A says:

Didn’t someone demo a Bicycle powered shower that needed 72 people pedaling to supply the energy needed for a single shower?

• Patrick MJD says:

Seen this before and great demonstration of how much power a typical home requires in an average day. A typical electrically powered, on-demand, tankless shower in the UK are rated at about 8Kw – 9Kw. IIRC, you see in the video cyclists simply run out of energy to keep the power demands on supply up.

• Bryan A says:

By the time his shower was done, there were 72 other people that also needed showers. They would require 72 x 72 = 5184 new cyclists needed for the next 72 showers. Then 5184 x 5184 = 26,873,856 new peddlers would be needed after which you have an insufficient supply of peddlers to keep the process going

• Otteryd says:

Thank you Mr Ponzi

• Bryan A says:

AAAAAAAAAAAY

That’s Ponzerelli

• RobbertBobbert says:

Bryan
BBC Doco that destroys the myth. 78 cyclist needed.
Also view…You Tube Can You Power A House With A Bicycle? 2016.
I am surprised that BBC have not taken their doco down…

• Peter Tari says:

This method with the 72 cyclists is working fine if you want to have a shower. But what about if you want to go water skiing? How many rowers do you need?

• simonmcc says:

You can successfully water ski behind 8 rowers.

3. Does the fool realize what power consumption of Electric Stove/Oven and Dryers requires, for a single use?

My Dryer use 230 Volts 30 Amps, Furnace 230 Volts, 60 Amps, Range 230 Volts, 40 Amps

His Unicorn Brand Power Bike can’t even produce power enough to keep ANY them running, in real time!

• Paul Penrose says:

Won’t do any good in the winter around here, where the average daytime high temperature is well below 0C.

• 2hotel9 says:

Come on! You don’t want your clothes freeze dried?

• Dennis says:

That’s how my Mom dried clothes. It even worked in cold weather. (sublimation)
We got the Electric drier just before I went to high school.
Sunshine still had quite a bit to do with it.
Mom said she liked to go out side and get some fresh air and sunshine.
You will notice we eventually acquired a drier.

• Joe - the rain god says:

Except when it’s raining

• dmacleo says:

6 deg F (approx -14.4 C for others) this morning and that is not considered cold.
thats a decent morning.
try drying clothes outside in that.

4. Bill says:

If you are a moron…this is a great idea…or, you could work for one hour and you can easily afford power for one day, inc. aircon. There, problem solved, when do I get my Noble Prize?

• Guy Dombrowski says:

“If you are a moron…this is a great idea…or”

This the kind of project our Green Loon Quebec Politician Luc Ferrandez would go for !
Remember him ? He was the guy that was glad the Corona Virus was killing peoples and slowing those dangerous emissions in China.

When he was Mayor of the “Plateau” Township in Montreal, he waged a merciless war against cars.
Changed the streets to random one way to deter driving in that sector.
During our harsh Winters, he even had the cycle paths plowed before the street !
But as most business closed or went away, so he had to resign his job.

Now, he is only a lunatic blogger. Causing less damage that way…

• Greg Cavanagh says:

That’s why your idea fails in the real world. It involves work!

Oh; peddling a bicycle looks like work too. OK, double fail!

5. “60 Minutes On This Bicycle Can Power Your Home For Twenty-Four Hours”

It is hilarious because if this was really true, every home in America would have a power generating bike or two in it, and started doing this over 50 years ago……

• PaulH says:

Or if you live in Barbie’s 3-story dream townhouse.

6. Paul R Johnson says:

Gee… Why not just hook up an electric motor to drive it and get free power forever? (sarc)

• Ian Magness says:

Brilliant Paul! You are a genius. You win the Nobel Prize for energy creation from thin air. It’ll be presented by St Greta of Truancy.

• Bob Johnston says:

I’m stealing the “St. Greta of Truancy” line – classic.

• Patrick MJD says:

Actually, there are hundreds of, obviously bogus, videos on YouTube that claim to be able to generate free power by using two motors, one used as a “generator” and the other used to drive the “generator” with plenty of hotglue and…magnets…in addition to those in the motors.

• Paul says:

I thought about this type generation as a kid when I had a generator on the front wheel of a bike that lighted the head light on the bicycle. The bike came this way. But years later in school I found out about back EMF.

7. Flight Level says:

Hey, this sad joke would be a good revealing tracing indicator on how massively ignorance outnumbers knowledge. Which is what green science public is all about.

• Chaswarnertoo says:

Ban dihydrogen monoxide!

8. John Dawson says:

If you had a rural home in an Indian or African village then this might work (with battery storage) to run a couple of efficient LED lights while it’s dark – no bad thing. But a single solar panel plus said battery would be a lot cheaper I think.

• Killer Marmot says:

You would want to compare that to solar panels and batteries, which should work well in the tropics.

• AGW is Not Science says:

IF you could get them out of the shadows of the vegetation…

• Mikey says:

That’s what agent orange is for silly!

• JimH in CA says:

Why use people power when they have cattle and oxen. I’m sure that they can generate 10 – 20x what a human can generate. [ isn’t 1 horse power = 746 watts ?]
Besides they could get the animals to work for a lot more hours, maybe 10-15….it probably beats plowing a field.!

• Robert Mounger says:

Then there is this:

http://mtbest.net/chest_fridge.html

So minimum lighting & refrigeration with something like this & a battery for a couple of hours & also it is exercize, but how do you heat & cool & cook?

• ozspeaksup says:

he didnt look very comfortable pedalling it either
reclining positions pretty daft
but yeah for someone with no power to run leds..but then a solar cell would do the same trickle charging all day, well in summer clear skies anyway

9. Wharfplank says:

It’ll never work. Maybe a giant hamster wheel…

• Scissor says:

Michael Mann’s wrist.

• brians356 says:

No, Mann is occupied cranking something else.

• Scissor says:

Maybe his pinky and thumb.

10. Gary Pearse says:

The greens who positively hate poor people so they are always going on about the poor being the worst victims of climate change. The poor are the worst victims of what is planned for ‘resolving’ the fantasy climate change problem.

11. Walt D. says:

Look at all the Green Jobs that this will create.

The problems of this can be solved with a bunch of serfs. Of course, the only ones to benefit will be our enlightened green leaders and their cronies. They will be comfortable while the peasants keep rowing to power their lifestyle. Don’t laugh. People are capable of horrible atrocities. Some people have more sympathy for a stranger’s dog than for another person.

• Meistersinger says:

“People are capable of horrible atrocities.” cf Auchwitz, liberated 75 years ago this week

13. Only use can only be for LED lightning and mobilephone charger, and a portable CD player or radio. But who needs that 24/7 ?

14. AMERIKANETZ says:

We’ve already seen this movie, where your electricity came from riding a stationary bike.
And dinner was your neighbor. It was called “Soylent Green”.

• David Wolcott says:

And that was intended to be a dystopia.

• Hivemind says:

These days, it’s a green playlist.

• Bryan A says:

A very Soylient point

15. mark says:

Every cloud has a silver lining….

Let the MSM run with this – the harsh realities of physics would then become wider known as more and more people for to realise the energy impossibility of it.

And then they would start to question wind turbines and solar and other “miracle cures “

Muppets …..

• commieBob says:

… the harsh realities of physics …

I have a mental image of a tiny air conditioner. The extra heat you generate pedaling would more than offset any air conditioning you could get.

It’s kinda the opposite of what happens when you fall into cold water. If you flail around trying to keep warm, you will only increase your cooling rate. Physics is indeed a harsh mistress.

16. During a bicycle race, an elite cyclist can produce close to 400 watts of mechanical power over an hour.
One advantage is only, in contrast to a normal bicycle is, you have less resistance as on street and you have a better transmission to the generator and that flywheel.

17. Ric Werme says:

Wasn’t there a flap about this device a couple years ago? I don’t have time to check right now.

I recall a story about a guy who hooked something like this up to the TV. Kids could only watch TV when cranking pedals pretty hard. TV is about 150 watts per hour.

• Darrin says:

I remember that story or one like it. Kids were couch potatoes so parents converted their TV to battery powered, kids got exercise if they wanted to watch TV. They would pre charge the battery then ride while watching to keep up the charge as much as possible. Kids quickly lost weight and thought long and hard about what shows were a must see.

• Randle Dewees says:

Yes. And I don’t have time to check either but I think the dude promoting this scam is the 5 Hour Energy guy.

18. Beachmountain says:

A prediction from the movie ‘Soylent Green’ in the 70’s. LOL, hollywood.

19. gringojay says:

Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren once in power as President of USA can make these mandatory for those will all electric vehicles. Then their sympathetic legislators pass regulations that only permit charging them at home. After a few months of experience maybe a number of the people using these will fit carrying bags on to a bike & just peddle around.

20. Susan says:

In the past people have linked exercise bikes to supply electricity to a television, the idea being that the kids could only watch as much telly as they were prepared to work for. It never caught on commercially.

21. Killer Marmot says:

This makes as much sense as using human beings floating in a solution as giant batteries.

And that works well. I saw it in a documentary starring Keanu Reeves.

22. Max says:

Not mention the extreme danger of that fly wheel popping lose and doing a war dance around the room in the midst of you cranking away for all you’re worth to keep it spun up.

Cheers

Max

• Tweak says:

It was bad enough when I ejected a CD from a computer’s drive and it came out still under full speed. Dodging that was spooky.

23. crosspatch says:

Maybe they should use this in jails. The amount and quality of food one receives could be directly proportional to the amount of power they generate. Top 10 get ice cream after dinner.

24. Rud Istvan says:

Many years ago I remember the fad to have a little generator bolted to the front fork, spun by your front bicycle wheel/tire, that would power the bikes tiny flashlight level headlight and taillight at dusk/night. About an inch in diameter by maybe three inches long.

I used to bike to school up and down a few hundred feet of several hills, about 3 miles each way, on a then ‘fancy’ three gear. (Higher gearing did not yet exist for popular consumption, most bikes were still one speed. My present bikes (1 mountain and 2 street) are all 3×5 fifteen gear now standard derailers.) Reason was afterschool sports so no afternoon bus home, plus, extra cardio for track. So my parents bought me one of these ‘new’ little generators so would always have light independent of the equivalent alkaline disposable C battery under the seat that surely eventually dies.

Bad idea. Exhausting, increased pedal work at least 25 percent. And if you needed the low ‘1’ gear for the hill climbs , it meant you were eventually walking the bike up the hill on busy roads in the winter dark after afterschool sports activities. Bad situation. Threw it out after 2 days. Rigged up a spare fresh C battery holder under the seat instead to make parents happy.

Anthony’s math is correct. Been there, done that.

• Yeah I had one like that in the 1970’s, remember trying to reduce the pushing pressure of the small generator wheel against the bike wheel.

• davidb says:

It wasn’t a fad. Dynamos for bike lights use very little energy and millions of people still use them.

• I had one as a kid. You had to keep going pretty fast to generate any light. Maybe nowadays you could replenish a rechargeable battery.

25. xyoureyes says:

This is great. I teach high school Physics and we are studying circuits right now. I’m showing this tomorrow. I train my kids to look for clues in media. Hopefully they will notice the meters and figure it out.

I use a lot of stuff from WUWT in class.

• Curious George says:

You are fired! 🙂

• mark says:

Excellent !!!

• xyoureyes says:

I also had the students figure out how many Snickers bars the UN would have to supply to provide the energy to the cyclist. People who are deprived of electricity are usually also food deprived.

26. mr bliss says:

And how much power is needed to manufacture the bicycle and transport it from factory to customer? How many days of pedalling are needed before the user has reached the power break-even point?

27. n.n says:

The Green New Deal for green people who are legitimately green, not Green.

28. Rud
Yeah–got my first bike in 1947 and then got the light with the power from a little wheel against the tire.
Just to run the small light bulb was an impressive drag.

• Patrick MJD says:

I recall those too, quite a drag indeed. Even appears in an episode of The Simpsons. The hub based dynamos were better.

But all these things in the article are just bogus. There are many videos like this, on YouTube, claiming free energy. Most appear to emanate from India using lots of hot glue, coils of wire and magnets.

29. n.n says:

Just because you can…

Instead of giant wind turbines blighting the environment, we will instead have giant hamster wheels for Green jobs and green virtue, without toxic batteries, and mitigated risk to birds, bats, and other vulnerable wildlife. Forward… to the House Select committee so that they may personally demonstrate its… their viability.

30. Davis says:

Calculating my January winter electric bill, according to the inventors numbers, I need 376 days/month. The water flowing through the turbines on its way to the ocean can continue to provide my electricity needs.

31. J Mac says:

The ‘dim bulb’ is the one pedaling…..

32. Craig Moore says:

Hans Free???? Did Gretal divorce him?

33. Toto says:

To be fair, the video does not say power YOUR house for 24 hours with one hour of work. The video clearly aims this at the “half the world that has no electricity or electricity two or three hours a day. It is for charging a cell phone and providing light (presumably LED) at night. It doesn’t mention why this would be a better solution than a solar panel. The video looks like it was filmed in India, so I assume that is the target audience.

Why not hook up your moped to a flywheel instead? Or even the bicycle they might have.

The key point is that it uses a flywheel to store energy, not a battery. That is interesting.
I’ve heard of commercial flywheel systems before, but only with a huge price tag.

Plus, the video says energy and water are important, that we should have more of these things.
Correct. He’s not the euro-activist saying that we should give up nuclear and fossil fuels.

• Patrick MJD says:

“Toto January 29, 2020 at 3:55 pm

I’ve heard of commercial flywheel systems before, but only with a huge price tag.”

Nothing new there. Some trams use a flywheels to store energy (Less common these days).

• Toto says:

Michael, I know. But that article was written by a journalist and titles are sometimes written by someone even more removed from the original source. I wouldn’t make fun of the inventor for something he did not say. The inventor has in mind a home in India which is off the grid.

And for the Dr Vague comment below, it’s not for 230 V AC houses. So for charging your cell phone, 12 V DC is fine. For LED lighting, 12 V DC works too. The inventor mentions fans; those come in 12 V versions too.

Few in the west are going to be interested when grid electricity is cheap. When it’s not available, or where it’s not available, will people be wanting this? That is the question.

• Patrick MJD says:

“Toto January 29, 2020 at 9:20 pm

And for the Dr Vague comment below, it’s not for 230 V AC houses. So for charging your cell phone, 12 V DC is fine.”

I do not know of any phone that charges at 12 V DC. It is usually stepped down to 5 V DC over USB.

• Krishna Gans says:

There are charger with 12V to use in cars, output 5V

• Patrick MJD says:

Yes, stepped down to 5V.

• Patrick MJD says:

“Krishna Gans January 30, 2020 at 6:04 am”

You cannot charge a 5v device, Apples are very particular about that, from a 12v charger UNLESS the voltage is stepped down. That is why Apple devices fail on non-apple chargers. Cheap US\$15 Honk Kong Apple chargers will kill your US\$2500 cApple MAC Book on that point alone.

34. Bernie says:

This would produce more CO2 from breathing than using mains power would.

35. Jean Parisot says:

Didn’t Fred Flintstone have one of these?

36. toorightmate says:

C’mon Granma. Your turn next.

37. Toto says:

Correction to my comment. Google shows there was a lot of publicity for this project in 2015. At that time it was said it had been in development for three years and the first prototype did not work.

Bhargava tells Gizmag that each working part of the bike has then been refined to be made as simple as possible.

The machine is made out of standard bicycle parts, some weights, an alternator and a 12-V battery. It was designed using these materials so that it could be maintained or repaired by a bicycle mechanic anywhere in the world.

In the interests of simplicity, again, there is only one gear. This spins a flywheel, which turns a generator, which, in turn, charges the battery. The bike is said to be easy to pedal with little little trade-off between ease-of-pedalling and productivity. In order to achieve this, an optimal gear setting was configured by engineers at Billions in Change.

There are two versions of the bike. A simple version for poorer countries will cost around US\$250. A more sophisticated model aimed at wealthier countries where electricity might drop out as a result of a natural disaster, for example, is priced at \$1,200-\$1,500.

This report from 2016 shows pictures of a simpler design.
https://www.foxnews.com/tech/ambitious-free-electric-bike-project-brings-energy-to-poverty-stricken-areas

Free Electric is a hybrid bike that spins two flywheels, which turn a generator that charges a battery. An hour of pedaling can meet a rural household’s electricity needs for 24 hours, according to Manoj Bhargava, — This includes running lights, a small fan and charging mobile devices.

https://www.foxnews.com/tech/ambitious-free-electric-bike-project-brings-energy-to-poverty-stricken-areas

You can find other comments on the web showing why this won’t work (for Westerners). 100 Watts input, subtract friction losses, etc., …

The photos show 12 Volt lead-acid batteries. These need to be topped up to full voltage regularly to avoid damage. But they are not efficient to charge in that part of the cycle. I liked the flywheel idea better, but evidently it is only there to even out the power input, not to store energy.

• DonM says:

I think that there were a bunch of electric generating bikes at the Olympic trials (or some other track/field thing). About 15 of the things, up to five of them occupied by dimwits offering there services to reduce the electric use of the venue.

• Patrick MJD says:

“Toto January 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm

The photos show 12 Volt lead-acid batteries. These need to be topped up to full voltage regularly to avoid damage.”

Nope. Lead-acid batteries are considered “deep-cycle”, that means can handle full discharge and full re-charge cycles. You are talking Li-Ion and similar that have the 40%-80% “ideal” discharge/charge ratio.

• Toto says:

Those who do not use lead-acid batteries for off-grid applications can be excused for not knowing this. All batteries technologies come with a list of “do and don’t”, even if the batteries themselves do not. There are several types of lead acid batteries, for car starting, for RV deep-cycle, traction batteries. They are designed for different applications. Using a start battery for deep-cycle applications would be a waste; it would not last. Even deep cycle batteries are damaged by repeated deep discharge cycles. What is less commonly known is that leaving a lead-acid battery in a “partial state of charge” (which means not fully charged) damages the battery. This is because sulfates form on the plates. In normal use, that is normal and reversible, but if left discharged, the sulfates form stable crystals which reduce the capacity of the battery, possibly permanently.
https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/sulfation_and_how_to_prevent_it

Lithium-ion has many advantages. If anybody still wants to generate electricity with a bicycle, they should use that technology.

38. Craig from Oz says:

Remember how the industrial revolution helped remove the need of back breaking physical labour?

• MarkG says:

Millennials don’t remember it. That’s why they think this stuff is a step forward, rather than a jump back.

39. RickWill says:

Professional athletes are way above most humans when it comes to power output. World class male can sustain around 6W/kg of body mass. A male in good shape, meaning trim without disability, around age 40 can sustain about 2W/kg of body mass. So for average weight of 70kg, expect 140W.

The battery being change would run a few LED lights overnight. Also good for powering a 24″ 12V LED TV for the evening.

40. Stevek says:

That extra exercise uses calories, so your food bill will go up.

41. UNGN says:

Over the Holidays I went the science museum with my kid. They had a bicycle hooked to a generator hooked to a 100 watt light bulb.

I can go 45 minutes on an exercise bike at 6/10th resistance.

I lasted about 6 minutes lighting the 100 watt bulb before I said “not worth it”.

42. Kyle G Gorman says:

Gilligan did.

43. Beachbum says:

Just think: all those poor kids who work 12 hours in a sweatshop could now come home and do more work. Talk about ” pulling yourself up from your bootstraps”.

44. GregK says:

I did a 12 minute warm up on a stationery bicycle at my local gym 2 days ago.
Thought I was going flat out.
The meters might be dodgy but the read out told me I had produced enough power to run a 15w globe for 2 minutes.
Depressing

45. Ken Mitchell says:

“Power your home for 24 hours with a bicycle”

Wasn’t that in a movie a while back? “Soylent Green”, I think. Charles Heston peddling for all he’s worth the run the TV for an hour?

46. Richard M says:

Just think how many immigrants could be employed by the greens. Money is no object if you are saving the world.

47. RobW says:

“without any costs whatsoever”???
It doesn’t look like it’s made from thin air.

“No pollution”??
Right, so the pedaller isn’t breathing -tick.
All the components materialized from thin air – tick
..and put themselves together and connected the output to the appliances by the fairies that live in the garden – tick.
Who’s he kidding? My pick is there’ll be loads of suckers. As they say there’s one born every minute.

48. observa says:

Somehow I don’t think a grant application would get up in order to determine how long the average human plus calories required could pay back the embedded energy in the contraption plus battery. One must always allocate one’s resources effectively in these matters.

49. Louis Hunt says:

“The founder of the Free Electric hybrid bike, Manoj Bhargava…”

Free? Where can I go to get me one of those “free” electric hybrid bikes?
Hey grand kids, if you want to charge your phones, come pedal this bike.
What a great exercise idea! But only if the bike is free.

50. Tom in Florida says:

All you need to do to make this work, and I am surprised it wasn’t mentioned, is to go down to your nearest Home Depot or Lowe’s and purchase the Acme Perpetual Motion Machine CXXIX. Simply follow the instructions, which you can download at the product’s website, attach it to the pedals and you are all set. This item can be purchased at a substantial discount during the upcoming President’s Day sale at these retailers. Be aware that they will probably go quickly so you may have to wait several weeks for delivery if you are not one of the first to purchase what they have in stock. You can also write a review of this product on Yelp! Good luck everybody.

51. Steve says:

It will work! Just pedal faster!

52. Stevek says:

Reminds me of the solar powered dryer advertised in magazines.

The suckers that ordered one received a clothes line in the mail.

53. John Bennett says:

Whenever my “green” friends propose one of these harebrained schemes, I always make them watch the following video, where an Olympic track cyclist struggles to produce enough energy to toast one slice of bread. It’s literally unbelievable how much energy fossil fuels provide.

• Patrick MJD says:

Reminds me of a competition between two fire departments in the 1930’s in San Fransisco IIRC. One unit was powered by a rocking type handpump, manned by 6 or 8 men, the other was powered by a steam engine. Both were horse drawn. You can guess which one won that competition.

• mikee says:

The man is toast!

• Patrick MJD says:

Also, the muscle shape and size in his legs suggests hes a sprint cyclist, not endurance. Two totally different muscle types. Ethiopian and Kenyan marathon runners are always skinny. Endurance cyclists, like in the Tour de France, aren’t that big as that in the legs.

• WXcycles says:

Think there may be some Trenbolone Acetate into the quad muscles involved there.

• MrV says:

Beat me to it!

54. Dean says:

That 274 counter looked to me like it was just counting something and was not measuring a rate, it was going up pretty constantly.

Maybe he had been pedalling for a few hours?

55. Dr Vague says:

Electrical engineer here. Unless I missed it, nobody has mentioned how the 12v DC power is subsequently converted to 230v AC to power household items, which is the claim here. No mention of the inverter required, with the required wiring into the switchboard and the huge costs involved. Also a bit useless when an outage occurs as such generation (especially solar panels) is usually isolated from the house to prevent energy backfeeding onto the street lines and endangering line workers. Fine if you have 12v DC lighting installed in your house, but who does?

56. Lance Wallace says:

There was a wonderful show on British television a few years back, in which the producers asked a family to let them film them over a weekend day and then hooked up the house to a barn where 30 or 40 cyclists, plus some extras to step in if needed, did indeed power the house solely by muscle power. But it was a near thing. When the lady of the house dawdled about leaving the oven on, the cyclists came near losing out.

57. Calvin Rubisco says:

Just wait until Bernie Stalin is elected President. Diesel fuel will be banned, livestock will be extirpated, and the 50 million re-ed campers will get their exercise pulling plows. Hey, Party Commissars need to eat, too.

58. Joe-The cyclist says:

I am a cat4 cyclist, – approximately 70percentile of racing cyclists, top 5% of all cyclists & top 1%!of the general population in terms of health strength etc. I can hold 300 watts for barely 90 seconds, typical 2 hour ride I will average 185-190 watts .

The typical gym rat will struggle to average 130 watts for 45 minutes. Any guesses on the wattage put out of the General population ?
Probably less than 70 watts for an hour

59. Pat Lane says:

I’d love to the calculation of the number of hours pedalling required to make the steel, aluminium and other materials used in construction of the device.
And an estimate of its lifetime.

• Martin Howard Keith Brumby says:

Exactly my thought.
But the device has an obvious use.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

This would be just the thing for virtue-signalling, ignorant and hubristic politicians who advocate renewable energy policies to save the planet.

You stay in jail pedalling this thing until you produce enough energy to mine the ore, smelt it into steel and manufacture another device just like this one.

A variant, for lesser offences, might be to produce enough energy to power up Al Gore in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed, for just one day.

60. Christopher Torgersen says:

I had a discussion on this ad on FB where I made a similar point without knowing the numbers.
Not only is it silly, but in my example of a family of four, they would have all have to bicycle constantly to produce the meager 5000 kVA hours per year average consumption of a British household. Since they would all be bicycling 24/7 they wouldn’t need much energy short of a light, but some cooling would be nice, since all that kinetic energy inevitably produces heat. (Presumably they would all bicycle in the same room). In addition to the cooling (1000watts) they would need a small staff to shop food and clean constantly. They would probably use about 4000 kVA hours per year to exist, so now we’re back at the original 5000 kVA hours per year average. Looking bad so far, and it won’t take long before you keel over from exhaustion even if you were eating and drinking constantly (expensive!). This has got to be irony.

61. Fred Souder says:

Anthony,
The average person could barely crank out 100 watts for an hour, if that. Actually, the average casual cyclist could barely do it. You have to be a pretty solid cyclist to manage 200 watts for an hour. The elite time trialists who can crank out over 400 for an hour (or around 2/3 horse power!!), are few and far between.

• joe- the non climate expert says:

Fred – See my comment above. I am a cat 4, I struggle to hold 300 watts for 90 seconds, My typical 2 hour ride will average 180-190 watts. My last race was 62 miles with a 24.5 mph finishing 8 secs behind 1st. My wattage on that race was only 145 (I was very efficient except the sprint finish).
The average cyclists will barely hold 130-150 watts, the average gym rat (steriod big muscle gym rate) might be able to hold 130-150 watts for 30 minutes. The average person 80-90 watts for 30-45 minutes.

So your comment is correct. Its ridiculus to think that this is a viable option. Though most of the warmist, struggle with their ideas due to their extreme tunnel vision.

• Thomas Edwardson says:

Joe – We have to fix your training regimen. If you are riding 2 hours at 180-190 watts, then your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is your sustainable aerobic power, is at least 200 watts by definition. Power levels above FTP are more anaerobic and are eventually constrained chemically by accumulating lactates (incompletely burned sugars) that gums up the cellular machinery by slowing down the electron transport chain, clogging the proton pumps, and messing with the electrical gradient across the mitochondrian membrane that drives ATP Synthase. Plotting maximum power vs time yields a characteristic rapidly decaying curve (the product of Power and Time) that insects FTP at 60 minutes. The slow continued power decay below FTP for long duration rides is a symptom of an increasing fat/sugar fuel ratio. Sugar reserves run about 2,500 calories, fat reserves run +100,000 calories, fat requires 30% more oxygen to burn than sugar, and oxygen is constrained by lung size at VO2-max. Bonking happens when the sugar is gone and all you have left to burn is fat.

This Power vs Time curve has a few well-defined points. Peak Power Output is maximum power measured at five minutes, and is typically 3 times FTP, or for you about 600 watts. A 45 second sprint should be at least 4 times FTP, or for you 800 watts. I am a 100% fast-twitch muscle freak, so my power curve is steeper than most. I have good sprint power at 1300 watts as measured by both power-tap wheels and Quarg cranks at about 40mph at the finish line. But that sprint is paired with at crappy FTP level of 237 watts, for a ratio of 5.5:1. Everybody else I race with have ratios right around 4:1, but they all have FTPs from 280 to 320 watts. YOU should not be “struggling” to hold 300 watts for 90 seconds, as 600 watts should be easily obtainable based on your FTP. I suppose you could be at the opposite end of the muscle spectrum and be made of 100% slow-twitch fibers with a correspondingly flatter curve, but then you would be unable to contest the sprints at the end of the race.

This page includes a decent graphic of the power curve … https://roadcyclinguk.com/how-to/fitness-nutrition/six-things-need-know-anaerobic-capacity-cycling.html … and some reasonable training advice on linked pages.

You and Fred are absolutely correct in your “average person is less than 100 watts” estimates. When we perform our initial FTP tests on beginning riders, they rarely measure more than 90 watts. Professionals that can produce more than 400 watts for an hour are about six standard deviations better than average.

• joe - the slow cyclist says:

Yes I am well aware of my low wattage numbers. My ftp is 199 (the last time I measured). I will typically lose every bunch sprint by 6-8 seconds. However I am 63 and didnt start racing until age 60. I do need some coaching to get above this level I am stuck with.

I the typical crit race, my legs are perfectly happy coasting at 25 mph, but have trouble getting up to 32-35 for the final sprint when the rest of the field is at 35+

62. High Treason says:

What defines human civilization? It is the harnessing of power sources that can do many times as much work as human effort alone. This is why the planet supports 7 billion humans, not 7 million. By NOT using energy sources above and beyond what we can create ourselves, we go back to Neolithic production levels-the stone age, along with such delightful issues like short life span, disease, starvation, a population 1/1,000 of what we support now, being at the mercy of nature etc.
For those that yearn to a return to such a simple life, I hope you have found yourself a really nice comfortable cave. Sorry-no internet, no running hot water, no cars, no malls, no mobile phone, no TV, no food available any time for almost no effort whatsoever, no travel beyond 40 miles on any given day. No refrigerator full of icy cold beer, no clean drinking water,…The list goes on.
The figures are clearly a load of rubbish

63. RobbertBobbert says:

At Quora…Bjorn Lomborg demolishes this junk…

Bjorn Lomborg, cost-benefit, prioritization and order-of-magnitude
Updated April 12, 2016
Originally Answered: How much electricity does Manoj Bhargava’s Free Electric hybrid bike generate? And would an electricity generating gym be a viable business?…

64. Toto says:

“At Quora…Bjorn Lomborg demolishes this junk…”
The link for that is:
(note: it is from 2016, and everything else I’ve seen in searches so far has been 2015 and 2016)

Why bring it up again now? Does the company still make and distribute these in India?
Was it accepted there or not? The company now makes portable solar powered lithium battery packs and portable solar panels, water purifiers, and composting fertilizer systems.

The bicycle power generator may be a bad idea. But don’t trash the inventor for something he never said.
He claimed it was for charging one cell phone, an LED light bulb, and a fan. When he said it would power a rural home, that was a rural home in India which was off the grid. Since then I think he has switched to using solar power.

It’s like when Sarah Palin was trashed for the seeing Russia comment which was actually made by Tina Fey on SNL.

The inventor is rich and his goal is to subsidize his products with his own money. Non-profit.
Improving energy, water, and health in the impoverished world. Noble goal. He is doing things to improve lives (positive actions) unlike Greta (negative talk).

“Electricity – it’s what created all the wealth in the world”

video and trailer at:
https://billionsinchange.com

• Carl Friis-Hansen says:

Noble, yes.
Help, yes.
However, it is not a rational way forward. It is snail-pace, giving no realistic possibility to run sawmills, carpentry, cement fabrication, modern temperate class rooms, freezers, hospitals, etc.

For the work these Green gadgets do, they are extremely expensive. They are fine on a camping trip though.

65. Miso Alkalaj says:

You may find it hard to believe, but a similar contraption is displayed and tested every year at the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrotechnic, to give prospective students an idea of how much energy we use, and how much we can generate by muscle power. Candidates are offered to power such a bicycle for 15 minutes and they will be paid the energy they generate times 96, i.e., as if they had generated the same power for 24 hours. After the sweaty candidate completes his 15 minutes toil, a large locked box is opened with great show to pay him for his effort – which is not even enough to buy him a beer.

The fact is that a person of average fitness can barely generate 100 Watts for 3 minutes, 150 max if he or she is young. A highly trained cyclist can generate about 600 Watts for 6 minutes. Using these experimentally derived figures you can calculate how this bicycle would be effective at powering your home.

But they are sure to sucker some people. As W.C. Fields said “It Is morally wrong to let the sucker keep his money!”

P.S.: a similar bike is used in heart stress tests, the magnetic brake is progressively increased from 50 W to 600 W in one minute intervals. The testing is always attended by a cardiologist and a trained nurse because it happens quite frequently that the tested patient collapses on the bike.

66. Bob in Castlemaine says:

Bringing facts into the discussion.
How dare you!

67. ianprsy says:

Another give-away is the 12V car battery, which reminds me of the UK in the seventies and the 3-day week. We had to rely on the spare car battery to give us a few hours of candle-equivalent light. Looks like we’re headed back there.

68. Van Doren says:

Well, that was stupid. After all, humans produce CO2 too. If I’m biking I produce ca. 10g of CO2 per km. Pretty good, isn’t it? After all cars produce 100-200g of CO2 for the same distance. But if you think deeper, than the food must be produced and brought to you by the fossil fuels. Even if you eat potatoes the total will be as high as 100g – basically the same as cars. And with meat you can heat 1kg of CO2. I’m not saying CO2 is harmful – it’s not, but the notion that cars are dirtier than muscle work is beyond stupid.

69. WXcycles says:

Or just keep using the grid supply.

70. Greg locock says:

Whilst the idea is comical, the average electrical consumption quoted is a bit high if you were to actually put some effort into cutting back. My off grid house runs on 3 kWh per day (no electrical heating apart from the toaster and microwave), and my house in town uses 6kWh/day, again all heating is gas, not electricity, except for the kettle etc, but I do have aircon.

I could reduce my off grid usage by about 30% if I switched the satellite internet off overnight

71. Cardin Drake says:

[Bernie]If electricity prices were just100 times more expensive, this would be a great way to produce power. I can help with that]

72. Brian R Catt says:

The reason the industrial revolution was able to happen was because labour was decoupled from the means of production by steam power for the first time, and allowed humans to create the massive additional energy above that the carbohydrate power of humans and draft animals could deliver, plus a bit of weak intermittent wind and water mill power. I am unsure of the umbers but i read the energy we use per person is roughly equivalent to 24 servants, so we all live like Lords. But much better prtected from nature. Cretainly better than burning firewood we collected, as Africans still have to, and are forced to live the lives this amount of enrgy use allows.

AS well as the energy multiplier, chemistry allowed farmers to match the resulting population growth the economy could now support with food, massively raising output pr acre. The greens don’t like either of these basic underpinnings of modern developed society, w/o which it cannot exist.

I am keen we should establish an alternative environment for greens who want to be fossil and nuclear free. Their own bit of the World to live on w/o the power of oil, coal, gas and nuclear power, where they manufacture all their own consumables necessary for life.

Perhaps they could have treadmills like this to drive their means of production when there is no wind or water power available for whatever reason? Even the prisons stopped using those for energy conversion when steam came along. But that’s about the level of mental development of people who fall for this stuff.

73. Dave Ward says:

My (UK) electrical consumption last year was a mere 1325kWh – It’s surprising what you can do in order to live within limited means. Averaged over an 8760 hour year that works out to about 150 watts. So even if
a perfect storage system existed, allowing me to spread that demand evenly, I wouldn’t have a hope of covering it by cycling – even if I was super fit (I’m not) and did nothing else but pedal 24hrs a day…

• Van Doren says:

1325kWh is equal to 3122kcal daily. But this doesn’t take into account human (in)efficiency which is ca. 22%. That means you would need to burn 14.190kcal daily – more than Tour de France participants do. My personal max was ~7000kcal, and that was after a 100+km inliner race…

74. old construction worker says:

Why use man power? Why not use water buffalo power? Just think with enough water buffaloes and “power stations” you could power a small village, then sell buffalo dung to cook and heat the huts. (Call it “Back in Time Project” to get government grants and subsidies.

• beng135 says:

Right — many thousands of yrs ago, man was smart enough to figure out how to domesticate much-stronger animals for such work.

Some today aren’t so smart….

• joe the non climate expert says:

Man has been smarter – innovation – faster, stronger, smaller but more efficient, yet the solution to AGW is to create larger, less efficient gadgets with much bigger footprints to power the world.

progress or anti-progress?

75. Joe G says:

Umm, it is NOT a regular bicycle. Depending on the gearing it could work

• Joe - the cat 4 cyclist says:

The efficiency of modern bicycles have been improved to the point where nearly all the power through the pedal stroke is converted to making the back wheel spin, Very little loss of power in the drive chain = 95%+ efficient. The design in the picture is going to have a similar loss of power in the drive chain, so unless there is some of multiplying factor gismo in the flywheel, the wattage output will be only slightly less than the input.

• natermer says:

lol, no.

Watts is watts is watts is watts. It doesn’t matter how shiny the bike is, what special magical magnets they use, or how many gears it has. If you can only put 200 watts into it then there is no way you can ever get more out of it.

If you could get more energy out of it then you put in, what is the point of bicycling in the first place? Just hook up the output to the input, give the pedals a slight spin and you’ve just created a perpetual energy machine.

• beng135 says:

LOL, thanks for the laugh.

• Chaswarnertoo says:

Oh dear. Is math. hard?

76. B. Green says:

Lacking the cycling manpower? Just connect a large mains electric motor to the pedals, voila free electrickery.

77. 2hotel9 says:

Having used an old US Army model pedal style generator I find this idea intriguing. We got lots of convicts! Lets us get this up and running. Pedaling 8 hours a day would certainly get them healthier, and probably ut down a bit on recidivism among the fat, lazy portion of the criminal community. Win/Win!

78. Hermar says:

I’d rather prefer a modern LENR reactor from Leonardo Corporation or a Sun Cell from Brilliant Light Power in my cellar. Clean, cheap and plentiful energy. Sometimes I think the greens don’t want clean energy, science and reason to spread around.

79. AGW is Not Science says:

I think Fat Albert should be forced to ride one of those to power his 20,000 square foot mansion for a year, to show us all his “commitment” to his “cause.” Think of the benefits – he’ll be too breathless to speak, which will save us all from listening to his hypocritical bullshit, and he won’t have any time to travel in his motorcade of SUVs and limos to his private jet in order to, you know, attend “events” where he can tell us all how we need to reduce OUR “carbon footprints,” so there’s lots of energy “conserved” right there that would be otherwise be uselessly squandered. As a bonus, he might have a myocardial infarction and end his ceaseless twaddle permanently!

80. ResourceGuy says:

Obama would have gone all in with grants and loans provided to politicos as applicants and used the tag line “we don’t pick winners” when justifying all the taxpayer money flung in all directions (to predetermined insider targets).

81. ResourceGuy says:

They must not be pedaling fast enough in North Korea on most nights to keep the lights on. It’s Greta Paradise.

82. Sheri says:

Time to start selling the plans for that 200mph carburator again. Yes, I know cars don’t have carburators anymore, but that’s irrelevant. If you believe it’s true, it can be.

I can’t count how many offers I get for these free energy ripoffs. There must indeed be a lot of really dense and clueless people with money out there.

83. Uzurbrain says:

Simple search of Treadmill Generators has many hits including those available to purchase. Soon you could have one at your desk to power your PC.

84. Bill Thomson says:

There is a cost for fuel, no matter what the source. On an extended bicycle trip I found that the cost of extra food consumed per mile was about equal to the cost of gasoline per mile for a car – and the car weighs a ton and a half!

• Van Doren says:

Depends on what you eat. I would need 32g of potatoes to fuel 1km of bycicle ride, the same 1km with my diesel BMW would cost me 7 eurocents. Of course, fuel is expensive in Germany. In the US it would cost me the same as potatoes.

• You are eating the food to burn for energy. The carbon in the food is being converted to CO2 to provide the energy just like any fossil fuel engine. And omigod you are emitting CO2 -probably 50,000 ppm in every breath you exhale! Probably more efficient to burn the food directly to power a small steam engine.

85. peyelut says:

SNAKE OIL ™ – cures EVERYTHING!

86. BillJ says:

A 50 watt solar panel is \$75 or less and would easily provide more energy on most days. Seems like a much cheaper and sustainable alternative to this contraption.

Of course a solar panel that small isn’t nearly enough to power a home otherwise every house would be solar powered already. But in remote locations it would be enough to provide minimal power for charging a phone and a couple of led lights.

87. Steve Z says:

So a person cycling for an hour to charge a battery to 200 watt-hours (enough to keep a 20 W LED bulb lit for 10 hours) would get sweaty, and have to take a shower, and would consume more than that to heat the water to a comfortable temperature. But at least the person would get a good cardio workout.

Up until about ten years ago, there was a science museum in West Hartford, Connecticut which had an exhibit where people could turn a crank (with their arms and hands, not their legs) and the electric power generated would light a 150 W dimmable (incandescent) light bulb. Most people were astonished how quickly they got tired and winded from keeping that bulb lit, which did incite some of them to turn off light bulbs when no one was in the room.

Unfortunately, the museum was moved to another city, and that exhibit was taken down. It could still be used as a teaching aid to show the amount of energy needed for electrical appliances. People don’t teach common sense as well as they used to!

Another method might be to show someone making a 24-inch long cut through plywood using a circular power saw, then ask the student to make a cut the same length using a hand saw, and see how long it takes, and how tired they get.

88. Jenny Wilson says:

The video dates from around 2015. If you navigate to the billionsinchange.com website, they no longer mention this. You can find it with a web search.

They are now touting a portable battery system that can be charged from a bike like device, or portable solar cells. They DO state you get enough power for a few lightbulbs, a fan, maybe a laptop, etc.

No mention about powering a whole house. These products are really designed for the poorer countries that have inconsistent power availability.

89. David says:

They should combine one of these with an electric car to create the world’s first electric pedal car. 😉

90. Gary P says:

” average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential home customer was… an average of 867 kWh per month. ”

Something I noted many years ago. There are 730 hours in an average month. So one needs about 1 kilowatt average constant power for your house. That’s a good estimate and an easy number to remember.

• GoatGuy says:

Yep, and 730 kWh is 730,000 Wh
730,000 Wh × 60 min × 60 sec … is 2.63 BILLION joules.
2.63×10⁹ J ÷ 4,184 J/food-calorie = 628,000 food calories per month.
628,000 ÷ 30 = 21,000 per day.

That’s ONLY 10× what a healthy young fella nominally consumes.
And he’d have to produce over 1 kW, each our, 24 hours a day.
I don’t think so.

⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

91. GoatGuy says:

So…

When I was a kid, as was popular for young turkey-headed adolescents, I begged my mum for Christmas, for a doohickey that I could attach to my bike, on the front tire, that had a small magneto-and-front-facing-light … and a wire to a back light. The idea being, at night one would stop, flip the magneto to touch the tire, then ride along making power for the light.

Wicked! I got one!

So, first thing I did was hook it up. Couldn’t see much in the day (it was the incandescent age!), but the thing definitely asserted a drag on the bike.

A few days later, I went to a friend’s house in the late afternoon, and came home in the dark. Flipped on the magneto, and sure enough, a beam about as bright as your average 1960s flashlight came forth!

Wicked! It worked!

However, within a couple of our town’s long blocks, I was winded. By the time I got home, nearly exhausted.
________________________________________

By comparison, on another afternoon, the ride was easy.

So, it was the magneto.

Being somewhat-of-a-science-geek-kid at the time, I thought … well, maybe if I take out the lights, I could see whether it is the darn magneto having a lot of intrinsic friction, or the power it generated.

That experiment was telling: I whizzed at full speed around the block a few times (equivalent to 6 full long-block lengths), with the magneto-and-no-lights spinning against the tire. Yah, I got a bit more tired than with no generator. But nowhere near as worn out as with the lights on. Good science required that I screw back in the lights and do the same course again. I did … and became totally exhausted.

My conclusion then was, “it takes quite a bit of my power to light up a couple of stupid flashlight bulbs”. Not entirely unreasonable.
________________________________________

Later in the year, we went to the great big Day-of-Science at the Berkeley Hall of Science. They had borrowoed a large high-efficiency generator and set of high-wattage movie-projection bulbs, and hokked them up to a bicycle crank, gearing and so forth, so as to have an efficient connection between one’s leg and the power generator. It had a large ‘stop-watch’ timer … and a buzzer that’d ring if your ‘output’ fell below the 300 W criteria.

You sat in the chair, and cranked up. When you got over 300 W, the timer would automatically start. It’d keep track of the time until you gave up. The buzzer would buzz, and the clock would stop.

QUITE competitive! A long line of people wanted to try to get to the ‘top of the chalkboard’.

I didn’t make it longer than 35 seconds. HARD work! And boy, I was struggling at the end.
________________________________________

The moral of the story, to me, was that “making power by human power was a føøl’s errand”. Sure, just about everyone could ‘sprint’ their output to above 300 W, but for any sustained length of time, it was mostly too much.

And that’s only 300 watts!

I would assume that one MIGHT be able to sustain 150 watts for a half hour. Using math, that’d be

J = watt&sdit;seconds
J = 150 W × 30 min × 60 sec
J = 270,000

Looking up kilocalories, one finds that

1 kcal = 4,184 J, so
270,000 J ÷ 4,184 = 64.5 kilocalories

To put that in perspective, “kilocalories” are also the Calories of the food industry. So, 65 calories of food, put to good use.

AND you’d be well worked out, too.

Puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

92. Mark Matis says:

I seem to recall this was the standard for the plebes in Soylent Green!

93. Russ R. says:

I see this as the exact OPPOSITE of how this manufacturer presents this product.
We are the culmination of millions of years of evolution and natural selection. We are optimized to use our relatively weak physical attributes, and our relatively LARGE brains to survive and pass on our genetic attributes to the next generation.
Our greatest achievements have happened due to our curiosity about ourselves and our environment, and how we can use our intelligence to improve our probability of sustaining our lives long enough to propagate the species. We have got so good at it, we now can use some of our abilities to do things we enjoy, instead of using the bulk of our lives struggling for the basics of life: water, food, shelter, clothing, sanitation.
This invention implies we should get back on the hamster wheel of struggling for basics, instead of using the strength of our species to rise above the limitations of our physical ability to produce power.
If you want to do this for exercise that is fine. And I applaud those that understand the needs of our bodies to burn calories and force their bodies to regenerate and strengthen the very systems that have allowed us to progress as a species. We are optimized for manual labor, but not doomed to require it for production. We leverage it, and amplify it, using our intelligence, to survive. We still need to exercise, not for production, but as a function of our history. Our bodies are designed for a life of physical exertion and we have risen above that. Exercise is because our bodies cannot change as quickly as we can change our situation on this Earth, and utilize the combination of our Brains and the resources available to us.
The member of our species that would like to put us back into the lives of our ancestors have the opportunity to live that lifestyle for themselves. They don’t want if for themselves. They want to force it on others so they can rule with the impunity they crave. A powerless public is one that is easily exploited.
This product will never produce enough power to replace any of our current systems of energy mass production or to alleviate our current demands for energy.
It is a gimmick, designed to fool those at the lower end of our intelligence spectrum.

94. This scenario was presented as a distopian cautionary tale against UN proposed climate actions in a book called Agenda 21 by Glen Beck and Harriet Parke, 2012. In it, humans were confined in villages where they were not allowed to leave or enter the pristine animal habitats, and were REQUIRED to pedal a bike for several hours a day or their food rations would be restricted. A scary prospect if UN were ever allowed to implement their plans fully.

95. Toto says:

In conclusion, we have consensus that this man-powered bicycle generator is a bad idea, for a variety of reasons. One that I did not see was that stationary bicycles are up there among the most boring activities in the world.

I had never heard of Manoj Bhargava before.

However, this was not a rich greenie hypocrite imposing his ideas on Americans. He is nothing like Al Gore, Leo DiCaprio, Soros, Elon Musk, or even Greta. His version of saving the world is about improving the lives of the poor. It seems the super rich feel guilty about having so much money, but few actually give it away to help the poor. Few of these famous people are your friends; they are not the friends I would have.

But my first impressions of Manoj Bhargava are good. So the bike was a bad idea. He was innocently naive. At least that was a refreshing change.