Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/28/review_nokia_dc_14/

Nokia DC-14 bike charger

Pedal power

By Dave Oliver

Posted in Hardware, 28th February 2011 12:00 GMT

Review Most of us are happy to be green so long as it doesn’t put us too far out of our way. With this in mind, Nokia has released a gizmo for turning your pedal power into battery power with a bike charger for its phones.

Nokia DC-14

Charging bars with a difference: Nokia's DC-14

You might think that Nokia’s take on green power for its mobiles would be state of the art piece of digital wizardry. But no, the DC-14 bike charger looks very similar to those old bike light chargers you may have seen aged geography teachers pedalling around with a couple of decades ago.

It’s a clumpy contraption consisting of a dynamo, which you attach to your bike’s front fork with a bracket, which is in turn attached to a grooved wheel which rests against your bike tyre. When you set it up, the charger’s wheel should sit a few millimetres away from your bike’s front tyre. Pressing a button moves it inwards to make contact with the tyre.

At £25 it’s probably a bit too much hassle to steal, but any cyclist who’s had their bike lights and reflectors unscrewed and taken will be wary of leaving the device on their bike in public view – and there’s no quick-release system.

Nokia DC-14

Familiar dynamo arrangement

A pair of wires connect to a standard Nokia 2mm pin plug which you insert into your phone’s power port. Since it’s only available with Nokia’s proprietary power plug you can only use it with Nokia phones.

Cycle clips

There’s a rubber seat which clips onto the handlebar with a couple of stretchy rubber straps which hold your mobile in place while it’s charging. These worked particularly well – easy to stretch around the phone with no buckles to fiddle with and easy to adjust too. They seemed tight enough with several different Nokias that it tried too, from a slimline C5 to a chunkier E71 with Qwerty keyboard.

Nokia DC-14

Better hope it doesn't rain

Though Nokia assured me that the charger should work with any phone with a compatible port, I couldn’t get it to work with the new C5, though with my trusty E71, now a few years old, it seemed to work fine.

If you cycle like a granny, this may not be the best charger for you. The manual says you’ll need to get up to at least 6kph to get it working, but I found it was more like double that to get it started, though once it was working I could bring it down to considerably sub-Lance Armstrong levels (namely, walking pace) and it kept charging.

Once it got going it seemed to work much like a standard charger, and the power bars on the screen ran upwards in the usual way to show that it was indeed putting some juice into my phone’s battery.

Ten minutes pedalling was enough to put another bar on the charge meter, which gave cause for rejoicing. But after a further half hour of near constant pedalling (OK, pedalling and free-wheeling, but the wheels were going round for almost all that time), there was still no sign of another bar. The impression was that you’ll need to do a fair bit of leg work to keep your phone fully charged.

Nokia DC-14

Tyred technology?

Verdict

It’s kind of old school technology but it does at least work, and offers a green alternative to cutting down on your emissions and, indeed, the number of chargers you have sitting around the house. But you’ll need to do quite a bit of pedalling to make it worthwhile, so it’s probably only worth considering if you have a lengthy commute to work or plan to use it on an extended cycling trip to the wilds, if you can get a signal that is. ®

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