Bicycle iPhone and USB Charging – The Wheel

The next question I need to answer is: Do I buy the hub and attach it to the wheel myself, have the hub attached by a bicycle shop, or buy a pre-built wheel with the hub already integrated?

According to the helpful fellow at my local bike shop, fitting a hub dynamo to a wheel requires custom-length wheel spokes, as many as 36 of them. Spokes cost two dollars each. A skilled bike technician can attach 36 spokes to a wheel and a hub in a little over an hour, and the technician’s labor rate is 60 dollars an hour. So I’d be looking at a couple hundred dollars just to install a hub I’ve mail-ordered onto a wheel I already own. For the same overall price (even accounting for a higher shipping cost), I could mail-order the same hub pre-installed on a brand-new wheel.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. The fellow assembling the wheel needs to know what size and type of wheel I want, and of course, what brand of dynamo.

Measuring My Wheel

I want a wheel that matches the one currently on my bike. A good way to learn the size of a wheel is to look at the information printed on the tire. My front tire reads: "26 x 1.90", which means that I have a 26-inch wheel, with a 1.9-inch tire on it. 26 inches is the standard size for a mountain-bike wheel.

Okay, so I want a mountain-bike wheel. What brand? I honestly don’t know enough about bicycle wheels to care. As long as it’s considered to be a strong enough wheel for "heavy touring" (carrying a rider with loads of luggage), any brand is fine by me.

It’s about time I made a little note to myself, while assembling a touring bike:


I’ve done this before, with computers, headphones, digital cameras, certain strategy games, and even chocolate. It’s a rathole. A certain amount of study is necessary, but the gear is the means to the end, not the end itself. I do not need to turn into a forum creeper on an endless quest for the ultimate version of some inconsequential plastic grommet or doodad. I could be outside instead, cycling, on a perfectly adequate bike, and if it ain’t the best bike on the road, then so what?

So as a precaution, I hereby disallow myself from getting into ANY debates about what brand of bike part is superior to what. I can still make my case for the electrical components and the gadgets, but the buck stops there. I am already in too many ratholes!

The most visible (and most informative) place on the internet to mail-order a wheel with a hub pre-built into it is Peter White Cycles. I eventually placed an order with them, for a wheel, a headlight, and a taillight all at once. I’ll discuss the lights I chose in the next section, but meanwhile:

The Order

[parts list here]

When the wheel arrived, it was sealed up in this funny looking box:

Out of the box, it looked like any other wheel, except with an abnormally large cylinder around the axle.

I was amused to discover that Peter had insulated the box with crumpled pages of his local newspaper, so as I removed the parts I stopped for a while to read the comics.

Not wanting to take any risks, I brought the wheel and the parts that came with it down to the local bike shop so they could attach it for me, along with a new tire to match the rear tire I already had.

As part of attaching a new wheel, you need a length of insulating tape to apply along the surface of the wheel, underneath the tire, to keep the sharp edges of the spoke assembly from gouging the tube. Peter very thoughtfully included a roll of tape in his package, which the fellow at the bike shop applied. 10 out of 10, A+++++, would shop again, et cetera.

To The Lighting System

One Response to Bicycle iPhone and USB Charging – The Wheel

  1. Scott says:

    I’m interested in electrical power and how it all works so this was a fantastic article. Thanks.

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