Our Power Goal

Last Man Power's goal for providing power to all personal electronics devices needed for the bicycle tour.

Building Portable Power Solutions

Mike Wilson is one of a dying breed of tinkerer engineers left in the U.S.  I’ve heard him called an “Einstein level genius” by master electricians, and while this might be overstating him a bit, he has demonstrated his ability time and time again to find customized solutions to any engineering problem thrown at him.

When I was preparing for my bike trip in July of 2011, I came to Mike and asked him to be my power consultant.  I knew I would require 5-6 hours of computer time per day to work effectively, and I wanted to be able to maximize the time I could spent camping between cities without plugging into the electric grid.  What I expected was an educated perspective to help guide me through which gear I should purchase.  What I received instead was a series of customized power generation solutions designed specifically to meet my needs as a long distance bike tourist.

In a mere 2 weeks, Mike was able to modify a dynamo hub which generates current from the spinning of the bicycle wheel in order to charge AA, 9V, USB devices, and a high storage Brunton Impel Battery.  The design was lightweight, waterproof, tough, fully idiot proof, and more adaptable than any other comparable product on the market.  What's more, both the DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION costs associated with the prototype were far below anything else available through online retailers.


Mike’s circuit was able to fully charge 2AA batteries in just 45 minutes.  That’s GPS power for a day.  I was shocked.  How far could we take this?

At this time, we set a new goal for ourselves: Total Power Independence.  By the end of the 18 month trip, we will meet or exceed all personal power needs utilizing only readily available natural resources and the power generated by the act of biking.

So what is next?  Well, solar was an obvious choice, but even foldable solar panels can be bulky and subject to the wear and tear of the road.  Furthermore I would be biking for 5-6 of the sunny hours a day, and do not want to deal with mounting large solar panels on my bicycle.  Managing 75 lbs of gear while biking is challenging enough as it is.

In addition to a few other products, Mike is now developing a variable resistance dynamo to maximize the current generated by biking.  The problem with current dynamo technology is as follows.  If the current being generated is too high, a biker will not be able to climb steep inclines due to the resistance applied by the dynamo.  If the current is too low, well, then it will take longer to power batteries.

However if the biker can control the resistance (and consequently the current) in the same way as he shifts between gears based degree of incline, then he/she can maximize the power generated on downhill stretches, while minimizing the resistance while climbing.

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