Rock The Bike: BLOG

Hosting Pedal Power workshop at Pure Austin Fitness Jan 18, plus Thursday Night Social Ride 1/14

Jan 8, 2010Posted by

Tell your friends in Austin, invite Lance if you know him… Rock The Bike is coming to Austin.

I’ll be working with Pure Austin Fitness on a new Pedal Powered spin class. Along with the gym’s founder Beto (also a bicycle maker), we’ll be converting the Pure Austin’s 2 Fender Blender Pros to electric generators. If all goes well, this roomful of spinners will have loud, clear pedal powered music.

On Monday the 18th, at Pure’s 5th St. location, I’ll hopefully be putting the finishing touches on wiring up a Pedal Power Utiltity Box. If you come to this workshop, you’ll learn about how to create a Pedal Powered Stage, and how to host pedal powered events.

Gym Address:

907 W. 5th St.

Austin TX 78703

Time: 5-8PM

I’ll also have the new V3 Yuba Mundo. Come test ride this awesome cargo on a wee social ride to follow the workshop.

Speaking of social rides, I’ll also be out at the Thursday Night Social Ride next Thursday the 14th. Please tell your Austin-based friends to say Hi. I’ll have friends-price Down Low Glows with me and a Mundo for test-riding.

Chicago has a long, tall history of innovation in the field of tandem tall bikes

Jan 8, 2010Posted by

El Arbol will not be the first tandem tall bike. Check out this lamplighting bike from Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Read the Full story here:

Or how about this family contraption, complete with treddle-powered sewing machine:

Thanks Flickr friend Whymcycles

More recent but also notable, from Chicago Critical Mass, via Georgeaye. The photo has been viewed 4500 times on Flickr.

New Year’s Eve at Sera Phi

Dec 31, 2009Posted by

Posted by fossilfool
12/31/2009 – 21:00 – 01/01/2010 – 02:00


Pedal power one of SF’s best underground sound systems, with a full lineup of dance worthy musicians.
NYE Lineup

The headliners will be Band Of Mystics, who have played for Rock The Bike at Sunday Streets, West Fest, and other occasions this year.

Also, experience Sera Phi founder Ananda’s performance on the subsonic healing sound floor, and get quenched at the organic juice bar.

Event details:

Sera Phi:

1117 Howard between 8th and 9th.

9PM start.
$20 to get in.
Night ride to begin at approx 1-2AM.

Flyer: Katopop and Leifcycle


Jay pedaled! National TV debut of the Fender Blender Universale

Dec 24, 2009Posted by

To our delight Jay Leno climbed on a stylish white and orange step-through cruiser with a properly installed Fender Blender Universale bike blender (FBU) and blended what appeared to be a daiquiri, about 15 minutes into his show as part of the Last Minute Gifts segment. He pedaled for about 15 seconds, though to be honest I was too busy celebrating and making rock signs to count accurately. Jay had a medium-slow cadence and seemed very comfortable on the bike, smiling his trademark chinny grin and joking as he went — “for the active alcoholic!” Although his leg extension wasn’t optimized for power output, he had no problem crushing ice. He did not tuck in his pant leg prior to pedaling.

Watch the segment on Jay’s site: fast forward to 25:00 if you’re in a rush.

Above: The Fly Stick Van De Graaf effect levitation wand, one of the cooler toys on the segment.

Of the 13 products he selected, only three — the FBU, the Fly Stick Levitation Wand, and Snow To Go instant snow — fell into the category of positive, educational, or amazing. The others were novelty gags.

Six of the products were off-color: a stripping, singing Santa, a pole dancing alarm clock, and two products that involved sticking something (a pencil to be sharpened and a beer bottle to be opened) into the backside of an animal.

Two were personal care products gone awry — a head massager and a facial treatment system.

At $249 The FBU was the most expensive product on the segment.  The others (apart from the Deer Rump bottle opener) were all in the $30-and-under price bracket. All of the products were available through the internet. Not a single mainstream store such as Target was mentioned.

When the producer emailed today to say that Jay had selected the FBU for the show, I had to think for a minute where I’d be able to watch it — there hasn’t been a TV in my place for two years. Luckily Adam had one and was willing to host a viewing party. Four of us from the Rock The Bike crew, plus his two housemates, were there to take it in. At the top of the show, we took bets on whether Jay himself would pedal the bike, or an assistant. Heading into the segment, 4 out of 6 in our SF viewing party thought he’d do the deed. But at the last moment Grace changed her bet and it was 3 and 3.

above: Adam updating Facebook status to “Jay Rocks The Bike” moments after Leno cranked out a frozen cocktail.

When the show first contacted us a few weeks ago to request an FBU, we offered to send it to them complete and built up on a Jamis city bike. We figured that they’re busy TV people, not bike people, and they’d probably rather have us install it. No thanks, they said, just send hthe boxed FBU. Clearly installation was straightforward for them. The rack was perfectly level and the pitcher sat directly over the rear wheel.

above: the FBU installed on a classic Stumpjumper with Sweetskinz tires.

Invented in 2006 by Nate Byerley, the FBU is our most affordable bike blender, and it’s the one that a lot of schools, nonprofits, and summer camps buy. Earlier this year our engineer Leif redesigned the FBU so that it goes on and off a bike without tools (once you install the aluminum rack). When the blender base is removed, you’ve got a strong, light, functional rack you can use to commute, carry groceries or boxes. Every FBU we sell is adding carrying capacity to the bicycle fleet of America!

Bike blending is the most approachable, affordable way to demonstrate human power at an event or school. It’s a great conversation starter —  literally an awesome ice breaker — and one of the few products that can raise environmental consciousness without a guilt trip. It gets people pedaling at events, which reminds them how awesome bikes are. Kids love it! Check out the awesome testimonials we’ve posted for the product.

We also recently came out with a human power generator that’s compatible with every Fender Blender we’ve ever sold, so that a school that bought one, say, in 2007 can now add the generator and use their FBU to make power for a music system, lighting display, etc.

Many thanks to Jay and the producers for helping to spread the cheer and magic of Pedal Power at the holidays.

Yuba’s factory team takes first in the two-wheeled division at food-hauling cargo race “Supermarket Street Sweep”

Dec 8, 2009Posted by

Team Yuba’s Ben Sarrazin hauled 330 pounds of food, mostly rice, to a food bank to win the two-wheeled division of the “Supermarket Street Sweep. Rock The Bike ran support for the race.


The overall race winner, Jeremiah Ducate, hauled 900 pounds on a Reuben Margolin cargo trike. Together the riders in the load-carrying race brought in over 8500 pounds of food to the San Francisco food bank.

The required cargo on the manifest weighed only 30lbs, which is nowhere close to the Mundo’s 440-pound payload. So we stopped in Chinatown to load up 300 pounds of rice. The price went up $4 during our visit. Thanks to Geoff for pitching in.

Yet another good chance to “ride long distances, carry heavy loads.”

We had a crew of eight supporting one rider. A bit overkill, perhaps, but a nice way to spend a Saturday.

As you can see in the video, carrying the rice on the Mundo was, for the most part, quite stable. I was able to surf on top of five sacks of rice, which was a bit more scary than other forms of bike surfing.


The view from the Choprical Fish on 3rd St.

After the race we picked up Adam’s girls and went on a dusky sunset cruise.

How to surf a Mundo

Dec 7, 2009Posted by

Here’s a very clear demonstration of the technique.

See how the calf muscle hooks the front of the saddle? That’s how you control the bike. The rear foot plants forward of the axle.

Repeating our warning to check your Down Low Glow system for signs of insulation breakdown and bare copper.

Nov 25, 2009Posted by

The battery output wire on the Down Low Glow has a certain amount of insulation. But with repeated flexing that insulation can break down.

Please look at the battery in the picture and compare it to yours. The black insulation has kinked and separated where it exits the pack, and you can see the white and red insulation of the inner two wires underneath. This is a result of repeated flexing of the wire. It is worse in cold places where the insulation can be brittle.

Our goal with this announcement is to keep you riding safely with the Down Low Glow, and to prevent needless short circuits. In our experience, most of these short circuits happen because the type of wiring damage shown above has escalated to the point where the white and red wire jackets have also crumbled, and bare copper is visible. If a customer continues using the battery at this point, the output wire may twist, bringing the two coppers into contact with eachother. When copper touches copper, a short can start at any time, but it still may take days or weeks of use before it happens, if it happens.

Short circuits are scary and can create lots of foul smoke and possibly a few seconds of a small open flame. They can melt surrounding plastic objects like nylon backpacks. You certainly wouldn’t want to hold one in your hand. But in our experience they are unlikely to start a fire. We shorted five batteries outside our workshop underneath a newspaper, and none of them ignited the newsprint. The sputtering, smoky part lasted about 2-3 minutes on average before the pack had dispensed most of its energy.

About a year ago we tried to recall batteries from a specific, problematic production period in 2008. But since this type of failure invoves wiring, and all Down Low Glows sold to date have wiring, we are asking that you simply check out your system to see if it has this type of wear.

We want to replace batteries that show this type of wear. If you have one that’s showing signs of wear, please either follow the DIY steps to prevent further wear on your battery, or send it back to us for replacement or service.

We worked with our battery manufacturer on this issue and are now selling batteries with a thermal fuse that prevents short circuits.  We’ve also beefed up the strain relief on the wire leaving the pack. Down Low Glow systems sold today are much less likely to fail in this manner.

We have a reputation for excellent customer service and for being generous with warranty periods. If there’s something bugging you about your Down Low Glow system, or anything else you bought from Rock The Bike, please let us know.

Are all Down Low Glow systems destined to fail in this manner eventually? No!

New units have better tapering strain relief.

Tapering strain relief.

All DLG systems can last if you follow these Dos and Don’ts:


Yank the wires when disconnecting the battery from the charger or from the light tube(s). Yanking puts unneeded strain on the wiring.

Don’t carry or swing your Down Low Glow battery by the output wire:


Do hold your battery pack by the pack itself:

Use two hands to pull the main power connector apart. Same for removing the battery from the charger:

DIY repair:

Pinch output wire as shown to prepare for taping step.

1. Pinch output wire as shown to prepare for taping step.

Wrap tape over one side of the loop.
2. Wrap tape over one side of the loop.

3. Wrap tape over the other side of the loop. The tape prevents yanks and tugs from creating strain on the wire where it exits the battery pack.

The mod shortens the battery’s output wire a bit.

New to Rock The Bike? Here’s a quick intro with links to our most popular products.

Nov 23, 2009Posted by

The Fender Blender — a Human Power base station

As seen on Jay Leno’s holiday gift guide, and a Rock The Bike exclusive. The world’s finest bike blender now doubles as a Human Power base station when you drop in one of our compatible generators without tools. Available in three different styles, starting at $249. Made in USA.

Mundo Cargo Bikes and Xtracycle Sport Utility Bikes

We ride useful bikes like the Yuba Mundo cargo bike above and the Xtracycle SUB (Sport Utility Bike) below to get back and forth to Rock The Bike events, deliver our goods, and live life.

Not only do we sell bikes, we help design them and customize them. No one puts load-carrying bikes to the test like Rock The Bike; trust us when it comes to your bike decision.

Pedal Power gear

Photo Cred: Volker Neumann

Electric Mundos, Electric Fender Blender Pros, The Pedalometer, Modified JBL loudspeakers, and our dependable Pedal Power Utility boxes. Welcome to our weekend. We’re the undisputed experts for building Pedal Powered Stages for event audio. So call us if you need: consulting, a quote for a build, advice.

The Down Low Glow — Unmatched Side Visibility for night riding.

Photo: K’Tesh

The Down Low Glow is a rechargeable safety light offering unmatched Side Visibility and huge style points. The Down Low Glow 1.0 has been discontinued. Contact us to get on the wait list for the new version of the Down Low Glow. Follow our product development on Flickr!

We’re also a Bike Culture crew that Pedal Powers events, mostly in the San Francisco area

Our Pedal Powered Stage events are where we bring it all together. Pedal Powers music events and political rallies in the Bay Area. We have a number of event offerings but the primary ones are our Pedal Powered Stage and our music production. We co-produce the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival, and have appeared at: Earth Day Central Park, West Fest (40th Anniversary of Woodstock),

Often there is some sort of athletic feat involved, such as getting our gear across town by bike.

We are developing partnerships with bike culture crews and pedal power people in other places. We support them with technology (Pedal Power gear), know how, and promoting the field in general.


Pastana Surfs Valencia as Rock The Bike crew roll from Bike Expo to nighttime gig at Baobab.

Nov 22, 2009Posted by

Of the three in our crew that can surf Mundos only Adam Pastana has the sense of foundation that allows him to dance while surfing. We were on our way from the SF Bike Expo to power the Genie and yours truly at Baobab Village last night.

My parents have told me to take this off our homepage and focus on selling the Down Low Glow.

I think it’s rolling street theater and an absolutely stunning breakthrough in rocking the bike (lowercase). It’s inspiring to me, so I hope that, despite the obvious safety considerations, it’s inspiring on some level, to you too.

Besides that, this brief video shows three of our most important products in action: firstly the Mundo, which we already knew was stiff as a tree trunk and danceably strong, is apparently a great handling surfing bike too. A bike this rigid and predictable is going to be reassuringly stable when you carrying a passenger or a serious load.

Adam’s not only surfing the Mundo, he’s also carrying 30 pounds on one side of the bike in a GoGetter bag while towing a 75 pound Electric Fender Blender Pro from one event to another. Two other bikers pass on the right, with the Down Low Glow providing excellent Side Visibility; one is towing a racing bike on a Mundo.

So you see, it’s not just a video, it’s how we put our gear to the test, week in, week out. If you want to buy your bike products from some place where they all drive to work and click the mouse all day, go right ahead. But if you’re looking for people who ride, who push the envelope, who break and fix things, people you can trust with gear recommendations, you’ve found the right place.

Welcome to Rock The Bike.

Surfin’ Mundos with the Rock The Bike Crew in SF

Nov 8, 2009Posted by

Adam Aufdencamp spreads his wings on his first Mundo surf.

Below: Video of a Sunday Night Mundo surf with Pastana and Masha. Footage: Aufdencamp.