Recently we came across a video of an olympic sprinter using a modified stationary bike to power a toaster. The cyclist generated 0.021 kWh, and lightly toasted the bread. They close out the video with how many of him would be needed to power a car or plane, so we wanted to continue with the data conversions.

Since most of us have legs smaller than 74 cm, pumping out 700w of output might be a bit outside of our scope. So we broke it down to four different output levels: 50 watts, 150 watts, 250 watts, and 400 watts.

Wattage is pretty easy to determine if you have a power meter on your bike or use the FluidPRO Power bike trainer or CMXPro Power stationary bike. However, you can also estimate your potential wattage using the calculator at this site:

Electrical Rundown – Wattage is a unit of power (Joules/sec), while kilowatt hour is a measure of energy (kWh). 1 kWh is the same as 3,600,000 Joules. So if you wanted to generate 1 kWh of energy at 250w output, it’d take four hours.

On to the Output*

50w – If you’re cruising around town, you’re probably expending about 50 watts. Using Bike Calculator, that puts a rider’s speed around 10-12 mph.

Things you can power/charge

13” MacBook Pro – This new Apple laptop requires 60 watts to charge & run, so at 50 watts the power would almost be enough

iPhone 6 – The iPhone battery stores about 5 watt-hours of power, so you could theoretically charge it in 6 minutes.

Clock Radio – 10 watts. So you could power a few of these.

150w – If you’re an average sized person on a race bike putting up 150w for an hour, you’re probably riding around 17-19 mph, depending on your weight.

Things you can power/charge

TV+DVD Player – At this rate you could watch a movie. A 26-inch LCD TV is estimated to draw 110w, while a DVD player would be 25w.

Window Fan – At 150 watts, you could get a good cross breeze going in your workout room

250w – At 250w, you’re starting to go a bit faster. These riders are going pretty close to the same speed as the 150w crew, mostly because at this point you’re fighting wind resistance a lot more than powering the bike.

Things you can power/charge

Ceiling fans – With an average ceiling fan drawing around 120 watts, you could power two and get solid airflow going. And at 250 watts, you’ll probably want as much air circulation as possible.

400w – This is where hour record holders reside. The elite tier of bike performance. At this level, you’re pushing 25 mph on your bike and probably setting some land speed records.

Things you can power/charge

Central air conditioning for a house can draw up to 3500 watts. So if you had a team of 9 olympic-class athletes chugging away, you could probably keep them at a relatively cool temperature the entire time.

Brew 5 Gallons of Beer – It takes about 1.9 kWh to bring 5 gallons of room temperature water to a boil, which is a major step in the brewing process. With a team of 5 cyclists running at 400 watts, that can be done in an hour.

Some extremes

Now that we’ve talked about some individual and small team power events, let’s get into the crazy extremes.

Cook a Turkey – The internet claims turkeys should be cooked in ovens running at 325º, which runs about 2000 watts. So with a team of 8 riding at 250 watts for 12-20 minutes per pound, you too could have a good Thanksgiving dinner.

Launch Something Into Orbit – We’ll stick with getting 1 kilogram of anything into low earth orbit, which is about 360 kilometers above the surface of the earth. It takes about 3.29×10^7 Joules to get something into orbit, or 9.1 kWh. 22 cyclists holding that 400w pace for an hour could generate that much energy.

Hoover Dam – 2,000 megawatts. Four cyclists at 250 watts can output a kilowatt. So we’d need 4,000 to generate one megawatt. So to generate the output of the Hoover dam, we’d need 8 million people hammering at 250 watts. Oddly enough, Hoover Dam serves around 8 million people.

*There are a lot of assumptions involved in this, primarily that the system is 100% efficient.