Dynamo USB Chargers: Revolution vs The Plug

I started this bike trip with what I thought was the ultimate hub dynamo USB charging system. It’s served me well overall, but had some problems with The Plug USB charger.

Luckily, I was given the opportunity to test a relatively new product on the market – the Revolution by Sinewave Cycles (formerly known as Bright Bike). Sinewave Cycles is a small company whose products are designed and manufactured in Massachusetts, USA.

I’ve spent that last few weeks testing the Revolution in a range of terrain and weather. Here are my immediate observations and comparisons (i.e., Revolution vs The Plug).

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The Revolution, a hub dynamo USB charger by Sinewave Cycles (formerly known as Bright Bike)

Power Management

Unlike The Plug, the Revolution doesn’t simply stop charging at high speeds. Whilst The Plug arbitrarily cuts out above 30km/hr, the Revolution continues to provide a regulated power supply. I tested this up to 60km/hr and the Garmin Edge was charging reliably.

Waterproof-ness

I suspect that my troubles with The Plug were caused by water damage. I often ride in the rain and it’s not always possible to dry everything out immediately afterwards. The Plug got wet and started behaving irregularly. The PATS cable failed, the green LED burnt out and charging became intermittent.

The Revolution appears to be better sealed, making it more resilient to wet weather. Sinewave even demonstrate complete submersion in water on their website. I can’t yet comment on long term durability, but first impressions are looking very positive!

Installation

One of the key USPs for the Plug is the aesthetic. It’s slickly integrated with bike in a way that other USB chargers are not. However, the trade off comes in the form of a cumbersome installation process. By comparison, The Revolution is a piece of cake. It simply requires some wire crimping and an optional zip-tie.

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Basic installation is simple. However, for aesthetics and convenience, I am considering adding some quick release connectors so I can store it in my handlebar bag.

Value

The Plug is priced around €150, a steep figure considering what you actually get. The Revolution comes in not much more than half that price at around $120 USD. Whilst it might not be made of machined aluminium, it is doing the job more reliably so far!

Weight

The Revolution weighs in at a mere 37 grams, less than half the weight of the Plug when you include the additional PATS cable appendage dangling inside the steer tube. Whilst weight might not be a big deal for heavily laden bicycle tourers, it would certainly be important for anyone considering the Tour Divide or other multi-day unsupported rides!

Minor Gripes

Whilst the Revolution wins hands down on functionality and value, it doesn’t look quite as slick as the Plug when attached to the bike. I would prefer to tuck it away in my handlebar bag, but it’s currently hardwired to my hub. It would be great if the product came with some quick connectors to make it easily removable, allowing me to keep it in the handlebar bag at all times. Fortunately, Sinewave are now selling gold plated quick release connectors on their website, thus solving this minor issue.

In order to avoid international shipping, I will need to solve this myself with some DIY connectors, something I plan to do as soon as I can get my hands on some plugs and a soldering iron here in Colombia!

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