Pedal Powered Stage Gear

This is the gear we use at our own Pedal Powered Stage events, including the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival.

 

A Pedal Powered Stage is a system that must include ALL of the following:

- generator(s)
- loudspeaker(s) and audio gear
- protection circuitry and voltage buffer
- wiring and interconnects
- pedalometer

The following elements are optional:
- lighting

Creating a system yourself can be a great team-building experience but has a serious learning curve. Working with Rock The Bike, by buying our gear outright or scheduling a ‘barnraising’ (collaborative build), will get you up and running much more quickly and with higher quality components. You’ll be able to put your focus on organizing events much sooner.

Let our experience work for you. We’ve been Pedal Powering music events since 2007.  This will translate to less frustration and more empowering moments when you use our gear at your events.

We would be happy to assist you in customizing a quote for your Pedal Powered Stage. Please note that the items in this category are often made to order. Please help us help you by giving us enough time to do our best work.

Please read: “What are the technical elements of a Pedal Powered Stage?”

  • When a bike gets stolen, activate your networks to get lots of eyes looking for you. And then get that bike back.

     

    After a recent Bicycle Music Festival volunteer meeting one of our best cargo bikes, a Mundo 500, was stolen. It was locked to itself. This electric cargo bike was heavy, immobilized and impossible to push. The thieves must have had to lift it into a truck. I realized it the next morning and felt dejected and ashamed.

    I gathered some resolve to ask around for my bike. I remembered my friend Kipchoge’s story of recovering his stolen laptop by spending 3 days lurking in the underworld of San Francisco’s seediest Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods. When he finally found himself face to face with the man who’d stolen it, in the hallway of a dingy hotel, the man admitted he hadn’t yet wiped the hard drive or sold it yet because he liked a video on the desktop. The video showed Kipchoge and his friends riding into the woods on Xtracycles carrying chainsaws, in order to do trail maintenance.

    I printed out the photo below and headed out to talk to people in the nooks and crannies under highway overpasses and in the Plaza at Civic Center.

    I also reached out to crewmembers and friends on facebook for help. I posted it everywhere, in all the group pages for which I was a member. RTB’s Nio connected me with Jenny Oh, who has built a bike theft recovery network that is remarkably effective at getting stolen bikes back to their owners. She reposted my photo and shared her tips for getting bikes back. Following the advice I filed an online Police Report.

    I found that friends and even the people on the street were overwhelmingly sympathetic with my cause.  Alas, they weren’t giving me any leads. I didn’t feel threatened or awkward. I would just walk up to them and said “Hi, have you seen this bike? It just got stolen.” Some were actively trying to get money out of me but they were easy to spot. One guy said he knew where the bike was, but his timing didn’t check out; he said he’d seen it before it was actually stolen. They universally liked the bike and expressed real empathy. One guy said “I steal bikes, but I wouldn’t steal a bike like that. That’s a working bike.” The most embarrassing moment of my search was when I was asking a group of fairly strung out individuals in the TL for help. I told them the bike had an unusual bamboo fender. One of them said “You have a pretty unusual fender yourself!”, while pointing at my crotch. As he repeated himself, voice rising into laughing hysterics, I looked down and realized my fly was down. Exit stage left.

    My initial fervor for hitting the streets was brief. I have a business to run and I pretty much gave up the creative quirky approach to getting the bike back after the first day. I filed a claim with our insurance provider and would have probably completed it by now if not for extensive documentation they required.

    Fortunes turned when a crewmember (alum?) named Kai saw the bike locked to signpost in his neighborhood. A fan of cargo bikes, he regularly checks out Mundos he sees on the street. But this one caught his attention because of the custom welded rack and trailer hitch. He snapped a picture and sent it to his brother Leif, who showed to me, in the back seat of a pickup truck heading back from Los Angeles where we’d been for UCLA’s Ecochella.

    The photo was a positive match. There was my bright green cable housing, eBike controller, and Cane Creek brakes. There are way too many custom details on this bike to leave any doubt. On closer inspection, it appeared that my original U-Lock and wheel were still on the bike; the thief hadn’t bothered to cut off my lock!

    As we continued driving in to the city, we wondered how to approach it. It would be after dark; did we really want to deal with an angry thief at this hour? I called the SFPD for backup. The dispatcher told us to meet them somewhere other than the bike in case the thief were to get upset. I chose a gas station since we were empty anyway. We refilled and waited.  And waited.

    It was my dislike of gas stations and my love of my missing Mundo that got me to stop waiting and make for the bike. It was right where Kai said it would be, but we had no way to cut off the offending lock. So we threw another lock on it and for good measure, took the rear wheel. Then Leif got a call back from Laird that Cyclecide’s Big Daddy could lend us an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. We picked it up and made a plan to return in the morning when the noise wouldn’t bother the neighbors as much.

    The video at the top shows what happened next. We returned in the morning and used a Rock The Bike Pedal Power Utility Box to collect the energy from two different bike generators and supply Pure Sine wave AC power to the angle grinder. The Utility Box had no energy stored when we arrived. What you see in the video is a pure energy transfer between two determined friends’ legs and a powerful angle grinder.

    The bike is in decent condition. I lost a saddle, a lithium ion battery for the eBike motor, and a Mundo bag. It wasn’t pristine when I lost it. I’m planning to put some work in to show gratitude for having it back.

    Some folks on YouTube have commented that we shouldn’t have ‘stolen’ the bike back (or should have at least left a note) because perhaps the new ‘owner’ had bought it from someone else and would not be out looking for it. I find it hard to believe that the new ‘owner’ didn’t know it was stolen. They had been riding around with the front wheel bungied to the frame. In other words, they had it for 3 weeks but didn’t have the resourcefulness to cut my lock off.

     

    The greatest advice I can offer others is to get your network working for you. Multiply the number of eyeballs who are pattern-matching your bike to the bikes they see on the street. Ask lots of people in lots of neighborhoods. Supply them good photos and keep a positive attitude. And pray for good luck!

     

  • Festival Grade Pedal Powered Stage

    2 Bamboo Tripods for elevating precisely arrayed speaker clusters / 16 bikes / Stage lighting / AC power.  

    The Festival-grade package is both sonically and visually rich and serves as a prominent landmark at your event. Designed for the largest audiences, with large tripods angling the loudspeakers at distant rows. Beautiful at night.

    Crowd Size: 500-2500
    Setup Time: 3-4 hours
    Crew size: 8
    Getting it there: The entire sound system can fit on 6-8 cargo bikes and cargo trailers. Terrain will affect exact choice of roadie gear. Please consult with us!
    Generators: We recommend 5 Mundo 500, 1 Boda Boda, 4 RTBGen, 2 Electric Fender Blender Pro, 4 generator wheel and stands.
    Event space: We recommend a 12 x 24  stage. Additional space for Pedal Power generators, approx. 8×20.
    Storage space: All gear will fit into a 10×15 storage space. Please see our storage recommendations for more info.
    Lighting: Includes Stage Lighting panels for night events. Tripods have integrated lighting.
    AC Power rating: 1000 W, Pure Sine Wave.

    Audio Gear: 2 * Modified JBL PRX 635 mains, 2 * Modified JBL PRX 612 monitors, 2 * Modified JBL PRX 618XLF Subwoofers.

    Budget: $49000 +-
    Options / Upgrades:
    You supply:

     

  • Pedal Powered Stage packages from Rock The Bike

    After producing over 150 Pedal Powered music events, Rock The Bike has designed and created a dependable, reproducible system for you. Rock The Bike offers four packages of Pedal Powered Stage gear as follows:

    One Bike One Speaker Bike Pedal Powered Stage

    One Bike / One Speaker

    Specifically catered to the Live PA performance artist. Cello Joe lives by the words, “Make the world your stage.” Our most popular, simplest, lightest and most affordable Pedal Powered Stage package.

    1-Minute Setup, 1 Bike, 1 Speaker, Audiences up to 300
    $3,100.00   |   More Info

     

     STAGE-band-ready

    Band Ready

    Power up a live band. A robust system designed for a live band, complete with AC power, for instruments such as amps, keyboards, and effect pedals.

    30-Minute Setup, 4 bikes, 2 speakers, Audiences up to 500
    $13,950.00   |   More Info

     

     STAGE-live-concert

    Live Concert

    Power up a live band. A robust system designed for a live band, complete with AC power, for instruments such as amps, keyboards, and effect pedals.

    2-Hour Setup, 10 bikes, 2 speakers, Audiences up to 500
    $27,200.00  |   More Info

     

     STAGE-festival-grade

    Festival Grade

    Make history.

    4-Hour Setup, 16 bikes, 7 speakers, Crew of 8, Audiences up to 2,500

    $54,000.00  |   More Info

    Please answer the questions in the following survey to clarify your event needs e.g. target audience size, crew size, etc: http://www.rockthebike.com/basic-questions-to-consider-when-crafting-your-pedal-powered-stage/

    We also recommend you read and see the following posts and videos before diving in to the packages above.

    What: Here’s a post that explains the components of a Pedal Powered Stage. Here we describe the basic building blocks of Pedal Power: Generators, Loudspeakers, circuits, etc.

    Why: Check out Paul Freedman’s “Fossil Fool TED talk“ to get the motivation for Pedal Powering music events. It’s about teamwork, community building, fun, and replacing gas generators.

    Where: You can do it anywhere, but outdoor music events are the best settings. Our system uses cargo bikes to carry all the gear to events. Then we convert the cargo bikes into generators. See photos of past events:

    Who: Your crew should include strong cyclists, outgoing ‘coaches’, techs, and performers. See pictures of the Rock The Bike crew in action. 

    How: Call us to get an estimate going for your gear package. We ship almost anywhere and specialize in building gear you can learn quickly and use dependably. You can also come to a Rock The Bike event and learn from us directly. Typical lead time for a Pedal Powered Stage is 6-8 weeks.

     

     

  • Band Ready Pedal Powered Stage

    An awesome demonstration, great boom for your buck.

    4 Bikes / 2 Speakers / AC Power

    Audience: 250-500 people

    Cost: ~ $13950

    Also known as the SHAKE YOUR PEACE! rig (named for the band for whom we develop it). This is the smallest system we sell that allows you to truly power up a band. This option provides AC power; most bands have at least one performer who needs AC power for their instruments (amps, keyboards, effect pedals).

    Setup Time: 1 hour.
    Crew size: 4
    Getting it there: 2 of the bikes are cargo bikes. 1 tows another.
    Event space: Generators will take up about 12 x 8. Recommended stage size 10 x 14 including loudspeakers.
    Storage space: All will fit in 5 x 10.
    Lighting: Stage lighting panels can be connected directly to a bike or the included Utility Box.
    AC Power rating: Comes with a 600 Watt pure sine inverter capable of delivering 1200 Watt surges in power. However, for practical purposes, AC power will have to be less than 200 Watts (continuous) for a successful event.

    Optimized for what types of performances? Bands without many AC Power instruments.
    Other notes: With a Medium sized Pedal Powered Stage, you need to be conscientious about what types of bands you work with. Specifically, instrumentation.

    We recommend:
    Generators
    2 Electric Fender Blender Pro
    2 Mundo generators (upgradeable to Electric Cargo Bike):
    3 Generator wheel + stand (upgrade any bike)

    Circuitry: Split-Rail Utility Box with integrated 600 Watt AC inverter.
    Pedalometer: 4′ tube, visible across a wide area.

    Barebones downgrade:
    No Pedalometer tube.

    Bass upgrade:
    Get a subwoofer.

    Required additional gear purchase / sourcing:
    2 speaker stands.
    Modified JBL PRX 635 Loudspeaker with built-in Dubla and single Ultracapacitor brick.
    All cabling included.
    $5000

    Substitution: Pedal Powered DJ Booth. Add 1-2 subwoofers. Keep only 1 monitor. Now you’ve got a righteous rig for dance music. If you’re working with a great DJ, your audio needs will be different than if you’re planning to Pedal Power bands.

  • Large Pedal Powered Stage

    10 Bikes / 2 Subs / 2 Mains / 3 Monitors / 1000W AC

    Be at the forefront of the Pedal Power movement. Make history. The large Pedal Powered Stage includes enough loudspeakers, generators, circuitry, and interconnects for you to entertain a 1000-person audience, or larger.  ‘No compromise’ sound for performers, thanks to ample monitors and AC power. The experience of playing on a Large Pedal Powered Stage is about the same as playing on a conventionally powered stage. To the audience it also feels and sounds like a medium-sized festival stage from a major festival.

    Crowd Size: 300-1000
    Setup Time: 2-4 hours
    Crew size: 6
    Getting it there: The entire sound system can fit on 4-6 cargo bikes. Use of cargo trailers will help reduce the number of roadies needed! Also, terrain will affect how much each roadie can haul.
    Generators: We recommend 3 Mundo 500, 1 Boda Boda, 2 RTBGen, 1 Electric Fender Blender Pro, 3 generator wheel and stand.
    Event space: We recommend a 10 x 20  stage. Additional space for Pedal Power generators, approx. 8×20.
    Storage space: All gear will fit into a 8×10 storage space. Please see our storage recommendations for more info.
    Lighting: For nighttime events, we recommend 3 stage lighting panels, plus additional decorative elements like speaker grill lighting.
    AC Power rating: 1000 W, Pure Sine Wave.

    Audio Gear: 2 * Modified JBL PRX 635 mains, 2 * Modified JBL PRX 612 monitors, 2 * Modified JBL PRX 618XLF Subwoofers.

    Budget: $27200 +-
    Options / Upgrades:
    You supply: 3 bicycles for the Generator Wheels, mics, mixer, snake, audio cables, speaker stands.

     

  • Basic questions to consider when crafting your Pedal Powered Stage

    The technical needs of a Pedal Powered event vary greatly depending on audience size, venue, and power needs of musician’s devices. The questions in this post will help you to know what features are most important for you, and how much power you’ll really need. Please answer these questions and email us using the contact form. Also, please check out some of our recommended packages to see systems intended for different crowd sizes: http://rockthebike.com/pedal-powered-stage-packages


    Above: Shake Your Peace! performs during the Bay Rising Tour on their Pedal Powered Stage crafted by Rock the Bike.

    1. In  your mind’s eye, how many people are taking in the music at your ideal event? Audience size is the most important factor in knowing how many loudspeakers, generators, and circuitry to get.  Are you aiming for school assemblies? Street performing? A festival stage? 
    2. Who is pedaling to generate power at your events? Is it competitive cyclists? fit adults? the general public? teenagers? kids? How family friendly are your events? Doing events with kids means you’ll need more bikes! The reason: Kids love to pedal but can’t generate much power. Also, they need to use bikes that are sized accordingly. If you want to do these events, you need to plan ahead so kids can participate.
    3. What style of music do you want to amplify? Or do you have a specific band your are planning to work with? Are you a bandleader? If so, what is the instrumentation in your band? 
    4. Indoor vs. Outdoor? In your mind’s eye, where are your Pedal Powered events taking place? 
    5. Do you want or need to be completely off the grid? Off The Grid means that you are completely independent and not relying on power from any other source. Some people just want to demonstrate Pedal Power, but are doing so in places where there ready access to wall power. Perhaps they don’t mind using some wall power and some bike power. This can be a way to decrease the number of bikes in your system, but still offer people the chance to create power with their bodies. For example, if you want to a Bike Powered Cinema, you could power the loudspeakers with bikes and the projector with wall power. Other people want to make a statement by using NO power from the grid, or they are trying to bring a concert to a natural setting or park where there is no built-in power at all. They’ll need to be completely off the grid. What is right for you? 
    6. Related. What is your main motivation for doing Pedal Powered events in your community? Examples: Have fun, get involved in music events, raise environmental consciousness/bike excitement, encourage healthy lifestyles, publicize a commercial offering. It helps us to know why our customers interested in Pedal Power, and it may affect our gear recommendations. 
    7. Are you planning to bike it there?  Biking it there requires more crew, gear, and experience than loading a truck, but can be enormously gratifying. Check out these photos to see if this inspires you: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockthebike/sets/72157622547485971/
    8. Will you be doing nighttime events? 
    9. Do you already have a crew? Are you interested in leading a crew? Doing larger events with the general public requires a crew, including specific roles like Sound Guy, Roadie, Coach, Tech, MC and more. 

     

  • Many thanks San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival: World's largest Human Powered Music Fest.

     

    The 6th Annual San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival was our biggest ever and a milestone for our grassroots Human Powered Music Fest. Many thanks to the bands, fans, and our huge volunteer crew. Any one of the 3 phases of the day would have been epic enough. But we had a beautiful, idyllic daytime music festival in the park, an outrageous mobile party, and a post-modern urban block party all in one day. Daytime: 500+ people in a meadow, enjoying live music in the beautiful sunshine… Followed by a fire-truck dodging, freeway underpass screaming, Fossil Fooling LiveOnBike session, with captain Ariel using no electric assist to pull 3 performers and audio gear weighing 250 pounds on our Mobile Stage… Followed by a street party with an elevated stage,  a glowing Bike Tree, and a 3-person pedal powered stage lighting system.


    Rupa & The April Fishes perform at Golden Gate Park’s Log Cabin Meadow. Photo: Volker Neumann.


    We had 19 pedalers at the peak in Golden Gate Park! Plenty of power for our 10000-Watt sound system to run. In the distance you can see our Pedal Powered Line Array hanging from its bamboo tripod.
     
    We mobilized the entire festival on an outrageous LiveOnBike ride with yours truly, Fossil Fool, the Bike Rapper, performing with two bandmates on an elevated Mobile Stage towed by a Mundo. Above: the view from the Mobile Stage.
     

    Earlier that week… Load testing the Mobile Stage outside our workshop in Berkeley.
     

    We had stunning lighting at our night venue, Showplace Triangle. Three of our LED Stage Lighting panels, a renegade LED project hanging from the billboard over the stage, and the Bike Tree, El Arbol, all powered by 3 different pedalers. One pedaler did the greens, another did the blues, and a third did the reds. The tube on the left with red and green lights is the Pedalometer, which shows pedalers how hard to pedal.
     

    SHAKE YOUR PEACE! rocked their return to Bicycle Music Festival perfoming. Bandleader Gabe Dominguez is also the co-founder of San Francisco BMF.
    The large “880″ in the photo is the instantaneous wattage total. A single electric kettle or hair dryer uses up to 1500 watts, yet we were able to entertain hundreds of people with a total wattage of under 1000. Actually early in the day, an electric kettle did bring down our festival. A member of our volunteer squad plugged it in to our Pedal Powered Stage to have water to sterilize his cookware for our lunch. A fuse in our Pedal Power Utility Box blew. Another fuse blew before we started using our eyes to solve the problem. We saw a bright orange extension cord going all the way to our crew area. Aha!
     

    This rig required no electricity, and produced delicious Pedal Powered Ice Cream.  Each batch on the Ice Cream Bike takes about 20 minutes to churn.

    In keeping with Bicycle Music Festival tradition, our roadies transport all of of the loudspeakers, Pedal Power gear, food, banners, and festival gear to our venues by bike.
     
    Even our 18′ tall bamboo tripod, affectionately known as the Tarzan Tower, can be broken down to a 10′ bamboo bundle and hauled behind one bike.

     

  • What are the elements of a Pedal Powered Stage?

    What follows is an explanation of the key elements of a Pedal Powered Stage. If you are ready to buy individual components, please see the Pedal Powered Stage products section of our online store. If you’d like a custom quote for a Pedal Powered Stage, please start by emailing us with the answers to our Pedal Powered Stage questionnaire.

     

    Pedal Power Generators:


    Above, two Mundo 500 generators in use at the Eugene Bicycle Music Festival. The rear wheel is elevated off the ground so that you can pedal in place and generate power.

    How many?
    You will need enough bicycle generators that the pedaling effort per person is approx. 50-75 Watts. Based on our experience at events, 50-75 Watts is the amount that an average audience member can continuously provide. You should also have ‘ringer pedalers’ in your crew. Ringer pedalers are strong racer or everyday commuting cyclists who can contribute up to 4 times more than an average pedaler. Whether you’re relying on ringers or the GP (General Public), you’ll need to provide enough bikes that the effort can be shared.
     
    In order to make Pedal Power fun and inspiring, your goal should be to have the lowest ‘overhead’ possible. Overhead is how much Wattage your system draws when no music is playing. Using energy intensive devices like rack-mount audio gear, subwoofers, large guitar and bass amps, laptops, and lights can add significant Wattage to your system’s overhead.  If you already know what devices you want to run, start by measuring their Wattage with a Kill-A-Watt. Having a lower overhead means that more of your pedalers’ energy goes into music, not keeping devices on.
     
    If you are planning to use our Modified JBL PRX Loudspeakers, you can follow this table to estimate the crowd size possible for a given number of pedalers. These numbers are for danceable levels of music and assume a favorable overhead. 
     
    Number of Pedalers Estimated Crowd Size Possible in an Outdoor Location
    1 200-500 (with One Bike / One Speaker)
    4 500
    8 500-1000
    12 1000-2000
    20 2000+ We haven’t had enough chances to test at these power levels.


    The Electric Fender Blender Pro, our most compact, efficient generator.

    What kind of generator?
    The most effective generators are hub generators. They are efficient, quiet, and can convert a huge flow of power if the pedaler is cranking hard. The less effective ones are friction generators (tire rubbers). We recommend only hub generators, though for people on a long-distance bike tour, the extra weight is a drawback. Using efficient, quiet generators is better because it makes Pedal Power feel more impressive, which makes people want to pedal more, which in turn makes them want to ride bikes well after your event.  Check out this page to see all of our generator options: the Mundo 500 (electric version of our favorite cargo bike), the Electric Fender Blender Pro (towable bike blender and generator), and  generator wheels to turn any bike into a generator.

    Loudspeakers

    What kind?

    Do not bother with Hi-Fi equipment (including home theater, bookshelf speakers, and computer speakers) or car audio gear. Neither of these were designed for large spaces and large crowds. If your goal is to produce an outdoor music event, you need to use “Pro Sound” equipment that was designed to reach larch crowds at events.

    We sell Modified JBL PRX Loudspeakers. We modify and sell the full line of JBL PRX speakers, from the smallest wedge monitor (the PRX 612) to the 1000-watt subwoofer, the PRX 618. The ‘modified’ part means that we hack the circuit boards to allow them to run on DC power, bypassing the need for AC power (wall power). Since the conversion of Pedal Power from DC to AC  and then back to DC inside the amplifier is wasteful, our Modified JBL PRX loudspeakers run 43% more efficiently than in AC mode. PRX loudspeakers are already some of the most efficient powered speakers commercially available, thanks to their Crown digital amplifier, so the additional power savings in DC mode makes them (quite possibly) the most efficient Pro Sound loudspeakers in the world! They make Pedal Power feel truly impressive. Pedalers have a big smile on their face when they hear how much powerful, crisp sound results from their good clean Pedal Power. This is a Rock The Bike exclusive offering.

    PRX speakers are made of high quality plywood and have a durable coating. Although they’re heavier than some plastic speakers, they are relatively lightweight for Pro Audio gear, making them manageable to get to and from events by bike.

    What ever loudspeakers you use, don’t forget the importance of proper elevation and positioning of the loudspeakers. Pro-sound speakers like the ones we sell at Rock The Bike have scientifically calculated dispersion cones that help the sound spread out to the sides. In order for these dispersion cones to do their work, your speakers have to be up in the air  on a speaker stand.

    How Many? 

    Generally you need at least two mains to do an event. But we know from experience that with 1 speaker, good music, and Pedal Power, people will dance. Generally speaking, divide the anticipated size of the audience by 100 to get the correct number of mains. This is only applicable for events up to 500 people. Beyond 500 people, using speakers on stands is not going to cut it. You need to start thinking about elevating the speakers even further, using subwoofers, and considering a Line Array configuration.

    Above: The Pedal Powered Line Array in action at “Slaughter By The Water,” a heavy metal festival. 

    What about monitor speakers?
    Monitor speakers are how the bands hears themselves during performances. Very few musicians can perform at their best without monitors. Generally you need 1 monitor for every 2 bandmembers of a full band. At least 2 for most bands. For public speaking events like a press conference, you can do without them. We sell the Modified JBL PRX 612 wedge monitor.

    What about the speakers you already have?
    You may already own certain Pro-sound gear or have musician friends who have gear. Can you just plug that in and roll with it? Basically, the answer is yes, but you may pay a significant penalty in both weight and efficiency with older PA gear. Many newer powered speakers have digital amplifiers. These generate less heat and therefore require less power/fewer pedalers. How can you tell if your speaker has a digital amplifier? Look up the model number online, or measure the wattage of your speaker using a Kill-A-Watt.

    Can bands still use their own amplifiers?
    Musicians are used to playing their guitar, bass, and sometimes keyboard through a specific amplifier. The amp is part of their instrument, part of their sound. Unfortunately, their amp increases your overhead. Ideally you will have enough bicycle generators that the extra wattage of their amplifier doesn’t matter. Asking a musician not to use their own amp is an unusual request. However in our experience, we get great results asking bass players to ‘go direct’ or play through the PA. This means that the bass player leaves her amp at home, and plugs the bass into a channel on our mixer, just like the lead singer. There’s still plenty of bass but there are fewer devices ON and therefore lower overhead. If you have a small Pedal Powered Stage with, say, 3-5 pedalers, you may not have enough raw power to keep additional devices on besides the bare essentials (the mains, a monitor, and the mixer). Fortunately, the bass players we’ve worked with are very happy with the sound they get at our events.

    Pedal Power Utility Box, i.e. the Circuit

     

    This Utility Box contains a AC Power Inverter and DC power outputs for our Modified JBL PRX Loudspeakers.
     
    The Pedal Power Utility Box contains the AC Power inverter, a capacitor that holds a few minutes worth of power, the protection circuitry that keeps the system safe from overvoltage conditions, and outputs for your DC-powered devices (like the loudspeakers mentioned above). Our Utility Boxes now include a 4-line Pedalometer in the lid that shows pedalers how hard to pedal.  Even if you buy our Modified JBL PRX Loudspeakers, which run on DC power, you will still need AC power for devices like guitar pedals, amps, mixer, etc. All this functionality is protected inside a durable red plastic toolbox with a sturdy handle and latches. Your circuit takes Pedal Power in and kicks out a steady stream of regulated, usable power to the audio equipment and devices. The simplest type of output power is  traditional AC power; this means you will be using a DC-AC inverter. But in our Split-Rail Utility Boxes, there are special outputs for Split Rail Power required by our Modified JBL PRX speakers.

    Can you store the energy created?
    The circuit also includes whatever storage method you are planning to use. We use 30V Ultracapacitor ‘bricks’, which hold just enough power for a few minutes of music.

    Why do I need protection circuitry and what type do I need?
    The microprocessor brain in our Pedal Power Utility Boxes monitors the key system voltages and triggers relays that disconnect the pedalers from the system to prevent overheating and damaging the devices you’re running, or the Ultracapacitors. In addition to overvoltage protection, you also need fuses in case of short circuits. The input cables that connect the bikes to the system are long and are often subject to harsh conditions: people walking on them, tripping over them. Of course, you should tie these down as well as you can with reuasable Velcro ties. But you should also install fuses that prevent a bad yank from causing a meltdown. The circuit itself needs to be protected. We use Tupperware inside the box to prevent our microprocessor brain touching anything else and accidentally shorting. Your circuitry can’t be out in the open where it can be damaged in transit or where a metal wrench can be set down on it, causing a short circuit.

    Cabling

    In a bicycle based system, any wire can be tugged or rub against a tire and degrade from wear. They need to be ‘strain reliefed’ and insulated. Connections from bikes to the circuit need to be both quick-connect for ease of setup and robust. We use Neutrik connectors, the industry standard for Live Sound.

    Our current pricing structure is that most of your wiring is built in to the price of the other components. For example, if you buy a generator, you get an input cable. If you buy a speaker, you get a speaker power cable. We use only 14AWG gauge wiring for power cables that will see the outside world.

    All the wiring needs to be safe and robust for multiple setups / tear downs. It has to be long enough to allow you to place the bikes where pedalers have a good view, and where they don’t get in the way of the event or of dancing.

    Pedalometers

    You will need a way to show Pedalers how hard to pedal. Otherwise they may drift off in their thoughts (and power output) or overpedal your system.

    Our latest LED Pedalometer, shown above, is visible across a wide area, day or night. It’s controlled by a microprocessor that continuously monitors system voltage.


    Our original Pedalometer (2oo7) involved a fan blowing air into a tube perforated with holes. The higher the system voltage, the harder the fan would blow and the higher the beer can would rise in the tube. It was quite motivating.

    The ideal Pedalometer is the classic thermometer style, because it’s intuitive, making it possible for pedalers to get lost in the music while still providing the exact amount of Pedal Power needed. The pedalometer uses color-coding to show the pedalers when they need to pedal harder and when they need to slow down. Just keep it in the green.

    The voltage information shown on the Pedalometer is also important to the sound guy/girl, who can raise and lower the overall listening levels and the bass levels according to the available system power. The Pedalometer also engages the audience in the Pedal Power experience. Even the bands get involved. When they see power levels dipping, they may make a funny comment about it between songs to help pedalers boost it back up.

    Signage:

    Pedalers need to be coached. There are two essential aspects to doing this: the human touch, and accurate, up-to-the-second information about the system voltage.

    Don’t forget the importance of human communication, like “Pedal!” signs and direct coaching. It’s also important to check in your pedalers and see who needs water or a break, or to just tell them to keep up the good work. Pedal Power coaches get maximum power from each pedaler by raising or lowering the seat as needed. They help pedalers get on and off the bikes. They pull new pedalers from the crowd. They provide the human touch and show appreciation for the good clean pedal power.

     

    Transportation

    Additional load-carrying gear to get to events by bike. This can include Bikes At Work trailers, Xtracycles, Mundos.

    Lighting

    For night time events, you will need to light the performers. Rock The Bike’s stage lighting panels throw a considerable amount of light.

    Fuel (food):

    Food  is the fuel for a Pedal Powered event. Offer pedalers a free bike blended smoothie and they’ll have the juice to keep providing their good clean Pedal Power.
    Check out all the options for Bike Blenders in the Fender Blender section of our store. Bike Blenders also make a good fundraiser for your cause.  Keep plenty of water on hand too!

  • We're Pedal Power people.


    A mom and her son Pedal Powering a music performance on a Mundo 500 generator at the Oregon Country Fair. Rock The Bike built the Pedal Powered Stage used at the Fair.

    We help our event partners engage their communities to provide the greenest source of power possible. Read on to see how we do it!

    We say a huge thanks to our amazing event partners from the first half of 2011. Sorry it’s taken so long! Here are some of the highlights. We look forward to Pedal Powering many more great events this year.


    At the University of San Francisco’s Earth Day event, we pedal powered a Spin Art table, cranked out tasty bike blended smoothies, and got some good grooves going for the lunchtime event. Below, Anastasia and Nicco jamming, with 4 pedalers providing the amplification.

    Sunday Streets

    At Sunday Streets, San Francisco’s ‘Cyclovia’ event, we Pedal Powered a performance by Rupa & The April Fishes. Video below!

    Concept to Concert

    We helped get the groove going with a Pedal Powered DJ Booth at a charity fitness event in Malibu. Two Mundo 500‘s supported an 8′ wide DJ surface, and powered the two Modified JBL loudspeakers shown.


    A month earlier — the sketch we scanned for the client.

    Getting there:


    We got better at getting to gigs by bike. Above, roadie Jeff shuttles a Mona Lisa-esque Giulia and a conga drum with a Mundo cargo bike, on a day we had more people than bikes.


    We got a lot better at surfing. Above: Ariel delivering a Fender Blender Pro rental to the San Francisco Parks Trust for an event in Golden Gate Park.


    We’ve had a perfect safety record, including on our amazing Bike Tree, El Arbol, shown above carrying two crewmembers and a conga.

    Maker Faire

    We hosted the 3rd annual Maker Faire -> Dolores Park Social Ride. 200 people showed up and we rode 21 miles to Maker Faire with awesome music and great spirits.

    Maker Faire was the first event where people made leaves for El Arbol:

     

    We had a blast at the 5th Annual Bicycle Music Festival, the world’s largest 100% Pedal Powered event, sponsored and co-founded by Rock The Bike.


    Hundreds joined on the LiveOnBike parade from Golden Gate Park to Showplace Triangle. Two mobile acts performed on our new Mobile Stage, including 2 opera singers from the SF Conservatory of Opera, who performed aria duets, an act of street theater that prompted drivers to lean out of their windows and call “Stay beautiful!”.


    Big thanks to Jay Broemmel from Complete Fabrications for welding the Mobile Stage! Thanks also to Mark, Kipchoge, and Ariel for many hours of help on the project.

    Kata from Locura sings at Golden Gate Park at the Bicycle Music Festival

    We featured 13 acts on our Pedal Powered Stage.


    After the LiveOnBike performance, we set up our Pedal Powered Stage at Showplace Triangle, an urban park.


    Photo: Sven Eberlein

    Oregon Country Fair


    We joined the University of Oregon Outdoor Program in producing 3-days of pedal powered music performances at Energy Park. Above, Rare Monk gets the dancing started.

    The U of O Pedal Power crew take pride in biking to their events, shunning even the electric assist option of the Mundo 500.

    See great music from the Pedal Powered Stage at the Oregon Country Fair in the video below:



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