Rock The Bike: BLOG

Introducing the High Performance Upgrade for Fender Blenders

Nov 11, 2014Posted by in Featured News, Fender Blender Bike Blenders from Rock the Bike, Fender Blender Pro, Fender Blender Universale | Comments Off

Same frame, same base. New Blendtec-made pitcher.

We’re changing the name of our high-end Bike Blenders from “Vitamix Upgrade” to “High Performance Upgrade” and including a Blendtec pitcher rather than a Vitamix pitcher. We’re also now offering new package pricing that will make it easier for customers to get 2 or 3 pitchers per bike. Having more pitchers is key to meeting the needs of a crowd. We will continue to sell both our value-priced Oster-compatible pitchers and our Vitamix brand pitchers.

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The new Blendtec WildSide+ XR pitcher (on the right) is the same size and offers the same high performance as the Vitamix Advance (center) container that we’ve been selling.

 

We’re excited about the new pitchers because:

– They are less expensive! You can get additional jugs for less money, either at the time of purchase or later. Having more pitchers is the key to serving lots of people at your events and also accommodating dietary restrictions like nuts or dairy. Check out our package deals for the best pricing!

– The lid is easier to take on and off. The square lid with its big rubbery corners is less fidgety. Time saver at busy events!

– The big square hole in the lid (through which you can add food while blending) is bigger and easier to use than the smaller round hole on the Vitamix. This makes the Blendtec jug a better choice for certain foods, like pesto and hummus, where you want to be able to add ingredients while blending (“It needs more olive oil!”) Pedaling these foods is a fun and interactive team effort. Similarly for smoothies, sometimes you need to add liquid to a smoothie in progress.

The Blendtec made pitcher on the right has the same drive spline as the Vitamix pitcher we've been selling. They're compatible!

The Blendtec made pitcher on the right has the same drive spline as the Vitamix pitcher in the center we’ve been selling. They’re compatible! The Oster-compatible pitcher on the left is a different system and is not compatible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other key aspects between the two jugs are the same.

- Same size. 7 or 8 servings in a full Vitamix or Blendtec pitcher of smoothie, versus about 4 with the Oster-compatible pitchers.

- Same high-performance quality blending as Vitamix. We’ve been using the BlendTec pitcher at our events for the past 6 months and can detect no difference in blending performance versus the Vitamix. Both the Blendtec and Vitamix are far superior (for certain recipes) to the standard Oster-compatible pitcher. For basic smoothies all of our pitchers deliver excellent results. Check out our Vitamix – Oster comparison video for an explanation.

– Both are compatible with the ‘Vitamix Upgrade’ we’ve been selling for years. If you purchased a Fender Blender (Vitamix) and have been wanting additional pitchers, now you can buy the new Blendtec pitchers for less money.

– Both have the NSF rating.

– Still American-made (now Utah)

– Blendtec and Vitamix are the two leading names in the high-end blender world.

 

The base we've been using for our "Vitamix Upgrade" won't change. Both the new pitchers and the Vitamix brand pitchers we've been selling fit this base.

The base we’ve been using for our “Vitamix Upgrade” won’t change. Both the new Blendtec pitchers and the Vitamix brand pitchers we’ve been selling fit this base.

Any known downgrades?

We haven’t done as much longevity testing with the new Blendtec jugs, so we can’t offer as strong of a statement in that regard. We think they’re built to last, but we don’t have as many event hours under our belt with them. All RTB products are backed by our warranty, so you can buy with confidence. As we use them more at our events, we’ll be able to say for certain whether they do hold up as well as the Vitamix brand pitchers.

Possible confusion downgrade. We know that by changing our product names, and offering a Blendtec-made pitcher that’s compatible with our existing High-Performance base — which we were formerly calling the “Vitamix Upgrade” — there will be some head scratching. It’s a bit unconventional that Blendtec now makes a pitcher that is compatible with Vitamix bases and not with their own Blendtec bases.

Here’s the simplest way to understand it:

We have for several years sold a high-performance version of our Fender Blender. We just called it a brand specific name: “Vitamix Upgrade”. Now we’re changing the name to “High Performance Upgrade” and substituting an equally capable pitcher with some cool advantages and better pricing!

Possible downgrade: availability issues: This is a cautious note, but we must acknowledge that the pitcher we are now using in our leading product does not represent Blendtec’s main product emphasis. The blending quality is state of the art, but the compatibility with Vitamix makes this an unusual product. Indeed they actually run their Utah assembly line specially for us to get us the jugs we order. There aren’t as many distributors of these unique pitchers, and it’s possible that we could face delays on them at times in the future. However, if that does happen, we plan to substitute the Vitamix brand pitchers we have always carried.

Major upgrade: Package pricing.  From our event experience, we know you really need more than one pitcher for even a medium-sized event. Please take a look at the packages in our online store to see how the price per pitcher drops as you buy more than one.

Compatibility questions:

  • I have a regular Blendtec (with an electric motor base). Can I use my pitcher on my new High-Performance Fender Blender? No. Blendtec’s motorized bases have a different spline from Vitamix bases and they also spin in the opposite direction. If you have a regular Blendtec base, it won’t fit in the High-Performance Fender Blender. We hope to offer a Fender Blender Blendtec in the future!
  • I have a regular Vitamix (electric motor base). Can I use the pitcher I have now on the new High-Performance Fender Blender? Most likely yes. Vitamix pitchers will most likely fit the High-Performance blender base.
  • I still prefer Vitamix brand pitchers; can I still buy them from you?  Yes, but we’ve raised the prices about 15%.

Why are we doing this?

We are doing this because we want to provide value packages so that more of our customers have multiple pitchers (which we have found to be a key to large events) and because we like the features of the Blendtec pitcher.

Pedal Powered homecoming at USC

Oct 24, 2014Posted by in Featured News | Comments Off

A growing number of students are considering how their values meet up with the production style of campus events. At USC the Environmental Student Assembly wanted to showcase that big events can be green events. Rock The Bike was up to the challenge. One of the cool things that the student organizers contributed was the ‘sponsorship’ of individual bikes by campus organizations. Note the signs on handlebars… Campus orgs got exposure in exchange for providing volunteer pedalers. No power outages all night (except when we tried to plug in a fog blaster ;) ).

Activist rapper Boots Riley’s spoken word at the People’s Climate Rally Oakland, Rock The Bike’s biggest event ever.

Oct 22, 2014Posted by in Featured News, Modified JBL Loudspeakers, Pedal Powered Stage Gear | Comments Off

Thanks to the 350.org Bay Area and System Change Not Climate Change organizers, volunteers, and attendeeds, and Rock The Bike crewmembers who came together for the People’s Climate Rally this past September 21 on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. A major highlight of the event was Boots Riley’s spoken word and song during the peak of the event when at least 2500 people were in attendance. Skip ahead to 5:15 to hear the poem (warning, language!) Check out the awesome dance moves of the pedaler on the Tree during the song Ghetto Blaster (at 3:12). It’s inspiring to hear an activist talk about people power while using a people-powered PA system.

In this second video, Rock The Bike’s Fossil Fool induces an outage in order to reenforce the message of people power:

It was our largest audience size to date by more than double,  the previous being the 2013 San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival in Golden Gate Park at about 1000.

The crowd size meant lots of new information to take in about live sound. While our 16-bike Pedal Power system functioned flawlessly, delivering a steady supply of power to our amplifiers (note the green Pedalometer in view under the speaker in the photo above), our audio system was at its limit.  We were simultaneously getting complaints from some people in the front row that the sound was too loud and requests from organizers for the sound to be heard in the kids zone on in the back corner. Interestingly the problem was only happening during speech, not during music. Music is a full-spectrum audio signal with bass, mid and treble. while speech is more concentrated on a specific frequency range. It was the peaks of the speeches that were hard on the ears of the front rows.

The way that traditional audio companies handle a situation like this is with taller line arrays in which more of the speakers are aimed at the back. But this uses lots of power. The other way to deal with it, and our plan for large events in the future, is to position repeater stations mid-way through the audience with a time-delayed audio signal so that the sound from the stage and the sound from the repeaters arrives at the same time to the ears of the people at the back. The cool thing about the repeater stations is that they could be powered by bikes right by the speakers. We would probably use our standard One Bike / One Speaker system for this. Then people in the middle of the crowd won’t have to walk all the way to the front to pitch in some Pedal Power!

Speaking of Pedal Power, check out the beautiful color theory array of Generator Pros in our Biker Bar below:

We were proud to set the stage with the taller elements of the bamboo tripods and El Arbol, the Bike Tree. The organizers had focused on organizing —  inviting the many groups and coalitions of activists and environmentalists that made the day a success — and didn’t have a plan for the feng shui of the stage. No problem! Rock The Bike is happy to help create a sense of theatrical presence at our events. Look how the tall components frame Boots Riley during his spoken word below:

Another element that made the People’s Climate Rally a win for us was the volunteer roadies.

We requested that 350 Bay Area hook us up with 4 volunteer roadies who could help us transport our entire system to the event without cars and trucks. You can see some clips of the roadying in the second video above. We put our trailer wheels in our Generator Pros and installed them behind volunteers’ bikes. We rode with music into the setting sun. The ride was about 5 miles, and was pretty flat. The rides are a great bonding experience for volunteers and crew and we thanked riders with pizza back at our Oakland shop.

 

Old and new Fender Blender Pro seatposts. If your old one is causing your seat to slip back, we want to get you a new one.

Sep 17, 2014Posted by in Featured News, Fender Blender Pro, Generator Pro | Comments Off

We are offering a free upgrade to anyone whose Fender Blender Pro seatpost looks like the one on the left and is experiencing seat slippage:

Old seatpost on left doesn’t hold angles well.

The issue is that the older style, sold in 2012 and 2013, can lose the knurling that holds the seat angle you set. Once it has slipped a couple times, the problem gets worse. Even if you tighten its bolt with good torque, your seat may slip back and up, looking like this:

The seat should be flat, not pointing up like this.

The new seatpost has better clamping force and more pronounced ridges that hold angles better. Check it out:

The new seatpost (on right) has better grip on angles.

To take advantage of this offer, call us at 888-354-BIKE (2453) or email us through the contact page.

Using Pedal Power with larger crowds.

Jul 28, 2014Posted by in Featured News | Comments Off

From our vantage point the events world seems to be ever growing, and out of passion for spreading our bike message and in the interest of providing the best gear we can to our customers, we continue to test our activities with larger crowds. In this post we’ll share some of what we’ve learned about bringing Bike Blending and Pedal Powered music to larger events.

When we work at this scale we now go through a complete process that includes applying for a temporary health permit (ideally 2-3 weeks ahead of time to avoid late fees). The Health Permit process will vary in different cities, but in Oakland, it involves bringing a 3-bin wash station, a hot water insulated jug, enough cooler space to separate servable ice (ice that goes in smoothies) from the ice used to keep other ingredients cold. The enclosed tent shown above is also required. It also helps draw attention and support the beautiful hand-sewn sign.


Above: we set up our smoothie booth at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. Our crew of 3 served about 400 smoothies in 7 hours. Above: Carolina gives the ‘countdown’ to a teenager, encouraging him to crank out 5 more seconds of high energy pedaling.

Across the Bay, our crew of 4 entertained thousands of runners at the finish line of the SF Half Marathon, with a 5-bike, 4-speaker sound system.

Getting it there: On our smoothie booth, once all the extra smoothie jugs and coolers are accounted for, it gets harder and harder to bike it there. While Rock The Bike prides ourselves on replacing car trips with bike trips, we no longer use cargo bikes to transport the ingredients and supplies to our largest events. We now use the pickup truck, which can easily haul a full day’s supply of gear and food, and transport the crew as needed. You could probably do it with a station wagon too.

We shopped for this event at CostCo and got the bananas donated by Whole Foods, who were sponsoring the event. CostCo now sells a variety of organic and conventional foods and allows us to get close to wholesale on our ingredients cost. We spent about $300 on the smoothie ingredients and brought in about $900. Smoothies sold for $5 or $4 if you brought your own cup. We brought 2 Fender Blender Pros used a total of 6 of our professional grade High Performance pitchers.

The crew of 3 included 1 chef to prep the smoothies, 1 coach to take money and help people on and off the bikes, and a third floater to wash the pitchers or help coach.

By making tradeoffs like substituting pickup trucks for cargo bikes, and heading to CostCo versus the farmers’ market, we have been able to increase the number of smoothies we sell, giving many more people their first taste of Pedal Power. Stepping on a bike, pedaling, and accomplishing something awesome is an experience that has the potential to transform the way people think about their health and their energy use. Our priority at events is to provide this experience to lots of people, so that they feel great about what they can do with their own power.

On Sunday morning we were up before dawn to set up a 5-bike Pedal Powered DJ rig for the finish line of the San Francisco Marathon’s half marathon race.

Golden Gate Park was a perfect fit for Rock The Bike and El Arbol. The runners stayed, stretched, danced, took selfies, and pedaled all morning long. We even made a bike blended smoothie with the womens’ first place finisher. DJ Izzy Wise had a great ‘Global Bass’ set, very different from the Top 40 sound that runners may be used to at other races. Very San Francisco!

The fact that they had only run 13 miles, not 26, meant that the runners had more energy for us than when we have done the full marathon finish line. By using our Lithium batteries in combination with Pedal Power, we were able to vary the effort level so that runners got a satisfying ‘cool down’ from our bikes.

Technically speaking, we benefited greatly from having a large meadow to ourselves, i.e. having very little sound bleed to and from other activity areas. The sound from the Tree was able to reach out to all the runners getting their medals and reconnecting with family. And the announcer at JFK was over 100′ away and was still able to speak to the finishers without our music bothering him. El Arbol is essentially a Modified JBL PRX 635 and 612 in one. We coupled it with a Modified JBL PRX 618 XLF subwoofer, and then provided one more 612 to Izzy as a monitor.

I found the experience of being at the halfway point really energizing. I was at once experiencing the sweet celebrations of the 13-mile runners, and also rooting for the full marathon runners who were streaming by so beautifully.

Moberi entrepreneur survives Shark Tank, reps Human Power

Mar 27, 2014Posted by in Featured News, Fender Blender Pro | Comments Off


Ryan Carpenter gets the Sharks pedaling healthy smoothies as he pitches his Pedal Powered smoothie carts on National TV.

Click here to watch the full episode. Ryan’s appearance is at the beginning.

In a sense, Moberi’s Shark Tank segment was the perfect microcosm of the current debate between environmentalists and pro-business voices. The conservative sharks grilled Ryan about his ability to grow his biz without electric blenders (fossil fuels), while Ryan insisted that his customers want a more organic experience of life, and prefer to pedal their own smoothies, using Bike Blenders purchased from Rock The Bike.”Do you have a normal blender back there you can use if the line is long?”

“No,” said Ryan “that’s the beauty of it!”

Well said!

Having produced large smoothie booths at events ourselves, we know that Bike Blending doesn’t hold you back from quenching the thirst of a crowd. You just need to have an efficient system, a good team, and plenty of spare pitchers. Although Ryan didn’t lure the Sharks into making an investment, he successfully defended Pedal Power!

Wonder what those smoothies taste like? Visit Moberi in Portland OR. Or use our map to find a Fender Blender in daily use closer to you.

We’re moving! Open house April 3. (Reprint of National newsletter).

Mar 27, 2014Posted by in Featured News | Comments Off

It is with great hope and excitement that we invite you to the Open House of our beautiful new headquarters in the Golden Gate District of Oakland, CA. The occasion will also mark the celebration of our 10th Birthday.  We have been in business since September 2003 and are in our 10th year of providing products and services that combine our love of bikes, music, the earth, food, community, and education.

As our new decade begins we continue taking part in the environmental transformation and awakening happening right now on the planet. How can we resist environmental degradation and transition to a sustainable future? What types of changes do we need to make? We believe that our offerings are helping everyday people ask and answer those questions with joy, humor, and physical involvement.

We enter our new decade with a solid foundation and a commitment to serve our key constituencies: Event people, bike people, educators, entertainers, health and food advocates. Our bike blenders are increasingly dependable, affordable, available, and supported by a lively community of co-entrepreneurs and personalities. Our Pedal Powered Stage is ready for 3000-person concerts and is undergoing a rebuild that’ll make it more beautuful and suited to travel. The circuitry we use in our Pedal Power Utility Boxes is now Open Source. In short, we are seeking to make our highest impact, now!

We say YES to green entrepreneurs and food brands, activists and event planners, gyms and insurance companies, schools and individuals willing to examine where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and where our fun comes from!

We say YES to music, to the amazingly talented collaborators who have grown alongside us, some of whom will be performing at our Open House.

We say YES to our loyal team putting their lives into this effort.

We say YES to the old school customers who still read our emails, even if they’re just hoping for some news on the long-awaited Down Low Glow.

To all who have been part of our story, come check out our new space on April 3, the first Thursday in April. We invite you to tour, celebrate our 10 year milestone, and enjoy great local music, local beer, dancing, Ice Cream and more.

As of April 1st our office and workshop will be open at:
6323 San Pablo Ave Oakland, CA 94608.Please update your records to reflect this change. Our 510 number may change but no change in our toll-free number: 888-354-BIKE.

Facebook open house invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/739110252788575/

Chobani Team USA Spin Class video going viral. Here’s our behind the scenes look.

Feb 22, 2014Posted by in Blog, Featured News | Comments Off

With viewcounts racking up, Chobani’s Team USA Experience is officially going viral. 30 everyday athletes are introduced into a new environment and invited to pedal to power an incredible spin class that unfolds before them with live music, interactive LED art, and a huge hillside projection.  Rock The Bike produced the Pedal Power Spin Class system and the interactive lighting: per-bike LED strips that  responded to individual pedaling effort, and a 16′ LED mandala. The 4-speaker sound system was the same we use at our Pedal Powered DJ events and medium-sized concerts. You can see the all important Pedalometer (the light tube that shows pedalers how hard to pedal) and two of our generators: the Generator Pro and the Generator Wheel and stand combo.

Here’s a Behind-the-Scenes look that shows our experience of producing the Spin Class. You can follow the captions and dialogue to see how we recognized and overcame one of our main technical challenges: too much power. With 30 athletic pedalers, there weren’t enough output power devices connected to use up all the power. Whether we’re setting up a 1-bike music system, or a 20 person Pedal Powered Stage (music concert), the goal is the same: to create an energy environment where the pedalers are challenged or at least engaged by keeping a certain device ON. You have to anticipate and set up enough bikes to share the load.  At the Chobani shoot, the challenge was the opposite: we needed enough load to deal with the power from the bikers. On the practice day (pedalers wearing their normal workout clothes), we faced numerous overvoltage trips.  An overvoltage trip happens when a Pedal Power Utility Box disconnects pedalers from its electronics to prevent voltage from climbing to dangerous levels. Although this is a safe method for dealing with high power moments, it’s a bit unpleasant for the pedalers. They suddenly feel pedaling get easy, which is especially awkward if they’re being asked by a Spin Class instructor to pedal hard! We needed a way to keep them in middle of the voltage range, so the next night we dropped a ‘halogen bomb’ on the spin class: 900 Watts of DC power that we could flip on in 300-Watt segments. Whenever the Pedalometer was approaching the white at the top, we’d turn on the dummy load and bring it back into the middle level of the green. Pedalers never tripped our system.

Interestingly we found that we only needed to use the dummy load in the first half of the class. By the second half, the lighting and music were challenging enough that we no longer needed to burn off power. We’d successfully worn out a 30-person Spin Class!