How to Build a Bicycle Generator




The intention of this project is to build a straight forward human powered generator from a used bicycle and to use it to power light bulbs, blenders, cell phones, laptops, and other small appliances. This project will help one develop engineering skills while learning about a clean way of generating electricity.

The project was created as part of Infrastructure Academy's environmental technology curriculum for high school students, so it is intended to be both achievable and affordable.

Before continuing with the actual bicycle generator, one should understand how it works, and the components that make it up. View the PowerPoint presentation before moving on to the next step.


- 2" X 4" Wood
- Wrench
- V-belt
- Saw
- Diode
- Wood screws or nails
- Battery
- Hammer or Screwdriver
- Inverter
- Tape Measure
- Wire
- Screwdriver
- Motor (12-V or higher)
- Perforated plumbers steel
(if motor does not have mounting bracket)

Note: The bicycle generator could be accomplished by skipping steps 5, 6, 7, and 8, to save money, but connecting anything other than a halogen lamp directly to the motor is not recommended due to the varying voltages.

Step 1: PowerPoint Presentation

Step 2: Obtain a Bicycle and Remove the Back Tire.

You will need to unscrew the back rim to remove the tire and tube. Since the only part of the bicycle that needs to work is the chain and pedals, a junk bike or an old used bike would work just fine.

Step 3: Build a Stand to Elevate the Bicycle Off the Ground.

The design of the stand is completely up to you. A few examples are shown below. Just be sure that the stand keeps the bike elevated and secure. If your bike has pegs attached to it, make sure your stand accommodates that feature.

The stand should be built so that the rear wheel of the bike is about 5-7 inches off the ground. The dimensions of your stand will be specific to your bike.

Before beginning construction of the stand, be sure to draft a design with appropriate dimensions. A design on paper will save time and prevent mistakes.

Step 4: Attach the Drive Belt Along the Back Rim.

A drive belt can be purchased at any auto parts store. You will need to remove the back rim to attach it. Make sure to measure the distance from the motor to the rim so you obtain the appropriate size.

Step 5: Attach the Motor to the Stand.

A 12-volt DC motor or higher is recommended. The wattage of the motor depends on what you want to power. The motor should be securely mounted to the stand. Mount the motor at a distance that will tightly secure the drive belt on the motor shaft. The belt and motor shaft should spin concurrently – make sure there is no slipping between them.

Step 6: Place a Diode in Series With the Motor and Battery.

Make sure the diode is only allowing current to flow from the motor to the battery. The cathode should be pointing towards the positive terminal of the battery.

Step 7: Connect Battery to the Diode.

The battery should be connected in series with the motor and diode. The negative lead form the motor should attach to the negative terminal of the battery. The positive lead from the motor should be attached to the diode, and the diode to the positive terminal of the battery.

Step 8: Connect the Battery Leads to the Inverter.

You could use an adapter to connect the battery to the inverter, or you will need to solder or tape the battery’s leads to the inverter so the circuit is secure. Be sure to correctly connect the positive and negative terminals of the battery to the inverter or you will blow the fuse in the inverter.

Step 9: Plug the Appliance of Your Choice Into the Inverter.

Once the motor is secured to the belt, you will need to use a multimeter to measure how much voltage is being exerted while you pedal. Depending on how much you exert, you will be able to power small appliances. With the knowledge you’ve gained, try to make changes that will make your generator better and more efficient.

Fun Ideas
Here are just a few suggestions to what you can do using your new bicycle generator.

Charge your phone and exercise: Ever charged your phone and just waited until it was done charging? Why not get a workout and charge it at the same time! See how much time it takes to charge your phone. Try to set a time and try to beat it in the future.

Human-Powered Smoothie: Think you can make a smoothie without wasting energy in your home? See if you can generate enough energy in your bicycle generator to run a blender. Then, see if the blender has enough power to make a smoothie.

Eco-Breakfast: If you are the type of person who wakes up in the morning wanting to exercise, then try this. Use the bicycle generator to make some waffles and toast. There’s nothing like building up an appetite, exercising, and cooking at the same time.

Think about some more fun ideas you can execute using the generator and test them out!

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144 Discussions


13 days ago

Thank you for the tips on the Stand


Question 7 months ago

can a transformer be swap against the inverter?

1 answer

Answer 13 days ago

No, the inverter changes DC to AC to the required AC voltage. An AC transformer cannot handle DC directly to the Primary.


Question 7 months ago on Step 1

Why do you need a battery? Can you not power a bulb from the bike alone?

1 answer

Answer 2 months ago

Yes, you probably could power a bulb from the bike alone, but the battery provides storage for the energy you are producing, meaning you can stop pedalling and enjoy the stored energy you have generated at a time to suit you.


Reply 2 months ago

The inverter converts the 12volt battery voltage which is DC (direct current) to an AC (alternating current) output with voltage dependent on your location. In the U.S I believe the output is around 120 volts AC, in the U.K the voltage is 230 volts AC.
So basically, an inverter converts DC voltage to AC voltage.


Question 4 months ago on Step 3

Hi, What motor did you use? I'm very new to projects with electricity. Did you take the motor out of the Blade saw?


Question 6 months ago on Step 7

Can I get the complete specifications off the parts used in this bicycle generator ? especially the motor, battery, inverter and other electrical parts.


1 year ago

Is it possible to hook up more than one generator/battery to one bike and increase the amount of energy stored with the same amount of effort?

3 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Interesting idea. Unfortunately, the power you generate will be devided into 2. So it doesn't multiply up


Reply 10 months ago

How is that? If you use multiple motors attached to the same axle rotating at the same speed you should be able to simultaneously charge multiple battery banks at the same efficiency. It would absolutely allow you to store more energy at the same time. The speed of charging however would remain the same.


Reply 6 months ago

Adding a second identical generator motor to the same axle will require roughly twice the amount of effort to rotate it at the same speed (since you are doubling the load on the axle which requires more torque). So no, you can't store twice the energy with the same amount of physical effort by adding another motor. You will, however, generate more energy at any given speed with the second motor added in, but it will be harder for you to pedal it at that speed, so you will likely see no positive effect. This is consistent with the law of conservation of energy.


Question 9 months ago

How much power can i expect to generate? Can it power my whole house for a day?

1 answer

Answer 9 months ago

Sadly no, it doesn't generate too much power so you can't expect to power much, in fact it requires quite a lot of energy to power a single device.


1 year ago on Step 9

can u tell me the material that you used in details. so that i can try making like urs


3 years ago

I was actually hoping this would have been, or included instructions, on how to make the bike produce power while you're outside doing stuff, not just a stand still bike. I want to be mobile while I power a battery on the bike. My goal was to replace the back tire with a motored tire, and charge the battery that powers this motor while I ride, and turn the motor on when I need to go up a big hill or need a break in peddling for a bit.

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Electronic bicycle is one of the popular product for you. However, you might find tough to ride, really tough


Reply 1 year ago

Look into hammacher schmlemmer.. they have 2 different styles with a chain 1500$ and with out 3800$ chainless your pedals are cranking an alternator and harvesting power off each tires natural movement.... I know you don't want to spend that, but maybe between this article and brain power you could "reverse" engineer something