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4th Annual Pedal Powered Stage at Maker Faire

Posted by fossilfool
05/22/2010 – 08:30 – 05/23/2010 – 18:00

What follows is a general description of our plans for Maker Faire. If you are looking for details for the 2nd Annual Dolores Park To Maker Faire Social Ride, please use our Facebook event page:

Many thanks! Please RSVP on facebook.



Maker Faire is one of our favorite events of the year, especially now that we’ve discovered we can bike there. Our plan this year, in a nutshell, is to make the Pedal Powered Stage an even more fun, musical, energizing, hands-and-feet-on, creative space for Faire goers.


Pedal-Powered Music Stage at Maker Faire 2009 from ShareBrained on Vimeo.

Our busy calendar of events has allowed us to meet some great musicians and bands. Last year, 4 different bands biked with us to the Faire, including Antioquia, shown performing above.

Other musical highlights at last year’s Faire included Cello Joe and Oona.


Above: Musical highlights from the 2008 Maker Faire stage.

Amplifying youth voices from the community.

Rock The Bike has been fortunate to get involved with several youth groups that encourage students to use their voices and develop their talents, including Environmental Service Learning Initiative, YouthSpeaks, Silence The Violence, and ISA Academy’s songwriting class. At this year’s Pedal Powered Stage we’ll be inviting students from these groups to share their poetry, song, and spoken word performances.

Hundreds gathered before the start of last year’s ride. This year we’ll invite our favorite street chefs and cafes to set up coffee and breakfast at the start. Photo: Dustin Jensen.

You can cruise on ahead…  photo: Dustin Jensen.

…or hang back with Rock The Bike crew enjoy the music. Please bring a load-carrying bike and help haul gear with us! The more people who show up with trailers and cargo bikes, the more we can distribute the heavy loads, and the sooner we can get to the Faire.

19 miles, mostly flat. Fun ride!


Host your own ride to Maker Faire!

If Dolores Park isn’t convenient for you, host your own ride to Maker Faire! The Faire is trying to replace as many car trips with bike trips this year, expanding the program that gave bike people discounted entry last year. If you want to organize a ride, please contact us with the details, to get it listed on this page and the Maker Faire site.

Over the past year, we’ve cranked out thousands of smoothies at our events. This year, we’ll be gathering up our favorite recipes and running an actual smoothie booth, using only Human Power to blend smoothies and Hummus. Tangy, nutricious goodness! Discounts for bringing your own cup and pedaling your own smoothie. Proceeds to benefit the Bicycle Music Festival.

Last year at Maker Faire, we did the West Coast debut of the Biker Bar, our multi-person Pedal Power rig, LiveOnBike stage, and heavy duty hauler. Much like the East Coast debut at Central Park a month earlier, the Biker Bar performed brilliantly as a cargo trailer but poorly as a Pedal Power system.

The side chain link between the bar and the rear wheel of the Mundo 1000 caused multiple breakdowns. We have since redesigned the Biker Bar, cutting out the side chain and replacing it with a quiet generator. Now that we’ve worked out most of the bugs, the Biker Bar has helped us amplify bands and speakers at a handful of major events and rallies. It’s one of our most popular pieces of gear.

This year at Maker Faire, help us build another Biker Bar. In a 10-foot patch of grass, we’ll install the swingarms, screw down the float bearings and the generator, and build the wooden stage of the Biker Bar.  By the end of Sunday, this new Biker Bar will go into service, and we’ll be able to get three more pedalers contributing, helping us pump up the volume for our musical headliner / closer.

The second Biker Bar won’t be a copy of our current model, but a step forward. We plan to implement several improvements to improve the efficiency of the design, based on our observations from the past year. By participating in the build, you’ll learn how engineers and inventors take an idea like the Biker Bar, iterate and improve on it.

Video shot at this Biker Bar build will go into a DIT (Do It Together) manual for the Biker Bar, helping more bike culture groups build it.

Over an eight-year span, Fossil Fool has crafted a number of one-off Soul Cycles, combining his love for bikes and music. His current Soul Cycle, El Arbol,  is a tandem tall bike in the form of a tree. Last year, Fossil Fool brought an in-progress El Arbol frame to the Faire. It looked like this:

But 9 months later, El Arbol is out on the streets of San Francisco, a functioning tandem tall bike:

The lattice structure of aluminum wire, seen here illuminated by pedal powered flexible LED strips, is the form over which Fossil Fool will lay up a fiberglass tree, complete with a trunk, roots and branches. The enclosed volume of the tree will become the resonating enclosure for the lightweight 15″ woofer from a highly efficient, digitally powered JBL PRX speaker, the same type Rock The Bike uses in our Pedal Powered Stage. The mid range and tweeter from the JBL will also integrate with the lines of the tree. If all goes well, El Arbol will sound just as good as one of our main speakers, but the sound will be coming out of a beautifully scuplted and illuminated tree.

From drawing to reality, Fossil Fool has shared the process of making his most phenomenal Soul Cycle to datethrough Flickr. Here’s your chance to see it in person. The back seat of El Arbol is where Fossil Fool’s musical guests can sit and perform, facing the audience, social rides. If all goes as planned, we’ll be able to do some of this LiveOnBike performing at the Maker Faire.

But how do you move safely through a crowd on such a big, heavy, and tall bike? One unique feature of El Arbol is the roots, which swing out to 6 feet wide! for stability at low speeds, and to transform the bike into a Pedal Powered Stage. Deploying the roots involves stomping on a lever mounted to the head tube, which pulls a cable through a pulley and a length of Porsche transmission housing, to yank the roots into service from their nesting points against the rear swingarm. Throughout the Maker Faire, Fossil Fool and friends will ride through the fairgrounds, playing music, spreading cheer, and showcasing the complex and sturdy root mechanism of El Arbol.

The welder of El Arbol, Jay Broemmel, will be in attendance at the Faire, and loves to answer questions about welding up unusual bikes. Jay has also fabricated many of the Pedal Powered amusement park rides for Cyclecide, seen at Maker Faire in previous years. Bring drawings and sketches to share your off-the-wall ideas to these experienced art bike makers. And if your art bike is already rideable, bring out on the social ride!

Pedal Powered Spin Art station:

Kids loved our Spin Art station last year. This year, we’ll be brining it back, and hopefully encorpating some natural pigments such as beet juice.

Bike Culture exhibit:

We’ll cover the walls of our 10×10 booth wth dozens of photographs that show the evolving story of Rock The Bike, including our R&D efforts, the process of building El Arbol, and highlights from our events and rides.