Rock The Bike: BLOG

Update from Austin’s first Pedal Powered spin class

Jan 20, 2010Posted by

Rock The Bike is helping Pure Austin Fitness pedal power their spin class. Pure already owns two of our Fender Blender Pros, and the goal of the current project is to convert these bike blenders to pedal power generators using our latest technology, then use them to pedal power the audio in their spin class. Here are some shots from the work I did in Austin over the past five days.

 

On Friday I met up with Pure Austin’s Beto Boggiano at his workshop. We chopped off the dropouts on the Fender Blender Pro frames, in order to respace them for the new generator hubs.

 

We used the generator hub itself to position the dropouts at the correct width, rather than, say, measuring the distance with a caliper and then holding the dropouts with a pair of vice grips.  The gym mats and wood are to lift the hub and hold it at the correct position for tacking.

 

 

Here’s a shot of the inside of our generator hub. The copper coils move past rare earth magnets that are bonded to the inside of the aluminum hub shell, creating an electric charge that makes current flow through a cross-bridge rectifier. From the Wikipedia page on generators:

 

A generator forces electric charges to move through an external electrical circuit, but it does not create electricity or charge, which is already present in the wire of its windings. It is somewhat analogous to a water pump, which creates a flow of water but does not create the water inside. The source of mechanical energy may be a reciprocating or turbine steam engine, water falling through a turbine or waterwheel, an internal combustion engine, a wind turbine, a handcrankcompressed air or any other source of mechanical energy.

 

Above: Beto tacking the dropouts back on in their new position.

 

After welding the dropouts back to the frame at the correct width, it was time to rebuild wheels around the new hubs. The rim and tire add mass that creates a flywheel, smoothing out the pedal power. Plus, with a tire back on, the tire-rubbing bike blender interface will still completely functional (though optional). Pure Austin will be able to rotate the blender’s roller away from the tire during the spin class (to minimize noise and power loss), and then move it back to crank out smoothies for the cyclists after the class.

 

Before the trip, Rock The Bike’s engineer Leif had encouraged me to build the wheels ahead of time so that I could devote my time to installing the system once in Austin. Unfortunately I ran out of time preparing for Austin and instead brought rims and spokes with me. I ran into a number of issues. In the photo above, note the spoke nipples poking way out of the rim. I’d built up the wheel as a one cross when the spokes were spec’ed for a two-cross pattern.

 

Fortunately, these missteps and delays gave me a chance to bike around Austin on a bright blue Mundo and meet several cool salesmen and mechanics at Bicycle Sport Shop, Austin Bikes, and Mellow Jonny’s. I was impressed how much people in Austin already knew about the Mundo and its development, considering there are only a few Mundo riders there. I got stopped in front of bars for test rides and one rider even flagged me down… “Is that a Mundo?” It’s amazing how well educated and networked bike people can be about the products they buy.

 

The Monday 6PM spin class came and went without Pedal Power. I did get to see Beto, the gym’s owner and most experienced spin coach in action, which was great. The big black box on the floor between the palm tree and the instructor’s podium is a digitally powered JBL PRX subwoofer. The main speakers are mounted to the ceiling. You can see one of them at the top of this image just right of center. The mains are powered by two rack-mounted amplifiers, out of view. Hopefully we’ll be able to Pedal Power both the amps and sub. But we won’t know until we try.

 

Above: Bob Farr, an old-school Austin Xtracycle rider, and pedicabber, showed up Monday for the Pedal Power Workshop at Pure Austin. The technical delays described above limited our ability to fill the sweaty gym air with solder fumes at the workshop, but I was able to show Bob lots of good data and parts on paper and on Pure’s public iMac. The next day Bob showed up to help me bust out the last few details of installing the generator wheels. Here Bob is pedal powering 80 watts of LED lighting, a successful test of the Electric FB Pro.

 

Above: tracing a round object to mark a cut in the wheel covers, making room for the larger hub.

 

We succeeded in electrifying both of Pure’s Fender Blender Pros. The next step on the project is to build them a Pedal Power Utility Box. I would have liked to have the triumph of a pedal powered spin class, but at least we finished the primary goal of converting the two FB Pros they had, and I won’t have to fly back to Austin to complete the project.

 

Pure will have time to thoroughly test the system before using it at their fitness expo, March 6.

LiveOnBike Performance by the Genie

Jan 13, 2010Posted by

Posted by fossilfool
Time:
02/05/2010 – 06:30 – 08:00

The Genie will grace our mobile performance stage right before the “Road To BMF” event at Cell Space. All volunteers and fans invited.

The Genie is an exciting performer who developed a style called the scratch guitar. It involves looping an electric guitar that sits on his lap, combining sounds from a Velcroed-on iPod, and doing heavy filter sweeps with his big toes on devices like the Kaoss pad.

 

The Road to BMF

Jan 13, 2010Posted by

Posted by fossilfool
Time:
02/05/2010 – 08:00 – 23:59

Road To BMF: benefit for BMF

The event starts with a LiveOnBike performance by The Genie at 6:30, then awesome street food from Sol Cocina and Bike Basket Pies.

Then we’ll feature live performances by awesome local bands on Rock The Bike’s Pedal Powered Stage.

Shotgun Wedding Quintet

Tomato Riper

SHAKE YOUR PEACE!

Fossil Fool

Justin Ancheta

Circus Arts performances by:

Tara Quinn (aerial hoop)

Beer from 21st Amendment Brewery.

Bike Blended Smoothies

Photo gallery, Art bikes by Jay Broemmel, Fossil Fool

This event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=268770596666&ref=ts

————————–

By the time Bicycle Music Festival hits this year, we want the community with us: bands, fans, roadies, pedal power coaches, cops, neighbors, squirrels, and more. Our goal is to produce the best music festival we possibly can, with no use of fossil fuel-burning generators and vehicles. A lot of things have to go right between now and then. Permits, publicity, amazing bands signing on. So this is our chance to kick the season off right.

We’re hosting a series of events that help us get there.

They include:

Feb 5th at Cell Space

Pedal Powered Stage at Maker Faire in San Mateo

 

Fantastic pedal power social dynamics in the BBC’s powering-a-house experiment

Jan 12, 2010Posted by

I love how the pedalers get grossed out as they see the father of the house preparing to take a shower. It’s always cool when you can let the pedalers get the best seat in the house at a music event or let them in on a secret.  At Rock The Bike’s Pedal Powered Stage events, we serve up smoothies to the pedalers, bike blended of course. We’re thinking of putting the pedalers on a raised stage and lighting them at our Feb. 5th event.

The other moment that’s just classic about this video is when people continue running into the room to add more power and bring the system voltage back to the green. At first, they’re wearing the nice uniform: red jersey and cycling shorts. But as the system voltage continues to get clobbered by the energy hogging electric shower, the producers themselves run into the room wearing street clothes.

And you gotta love the cheering from the crowd when they successfully bring the voltage back from the brink.

A hot shower is, of course, one of the hardest things you can possibly pedal power. Apparently it takes 70 people to do so, (approximately 6000 watts!) Music is just the opposite. 1 person pedaling can get generate about 50-80 PDW (people dancing wildly), reminiscent of how an ant can carry 50 times its own weight in food.

Why is music so efficient? Is it just a coincidence that pedal powering music is easier than pedal powering lighting (even LED lighting), projecting a movie, or cranking out a smoothie, in terms of the number of people who can enjoy one person’s effort?

I think not. Think back to the ancient roots of music: drumming in the Savannah of Africa or the plains of North America that would bring people from a wide distance to gather at the fire. Music and dancing may be a cosmic gift of our evolution, a tool for humans to form communities, and therefore better band together, meet challenges, and fight external threats. This is the theory put forward by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book “Dancing In The Streets: A History of Collective Joy”

Thanks Urban School!

Jan 9, 2010Posted by

We had a blast last night at the Urban School, pedal powering their first dance of 2010. Thanks to Lucy, Lucas, Catherine and all the students and teachers.

As with any Rock The Bike event, we invite people at the event to pedal. The kid in the foreground is pedaling the Choprical Fish, which is powering the lighting at the dance.

Justin’s pedaling the Mundo 1000 during the sound check, one of our two bikes equipped with our Grasshopper generator system.

 

Despite their abundance of energy for gogo dancing and freaking, the Urban School students were a bit hesitant about joining in the pedal power effort. I felt good that we had shown up with a 6 person crew, including Adam, Masha, Hugh, Justin, and Ally.  But we were doing 90% of the pedaling. Normally, the GP (general public) does more like 40-50% of the pedaling. I tried pulling students in and there were a few cool students who kept pitching. But honestly the freaking on the dance floor was so prolific, that it was obvious that’s where their minds were. So after a while, I stopped walking out into the crowd using a Down Low Glow like an airport landing guide, and just pedaled. I thought back to David Butcher and how he holds it down at festivals, pedaling away on the Prime Mover. I found new time trial position I liked on the Fender Blender Pro, and entered a crank, sprint, lactic acid! cycle. Out of saddle sprint! Lactic acid. Two students get on, both girls. I adjust the seat for one of them and the indicator on our inverter already drops into the red.

 

“Pedal hard! Go for it. ”

 

I look around for crew and don’t see any one. The LED is floating in the red, occasionally hitting blinking red. I know I’m going to need to save this party. I hate having to be intense with the pedal power coaching, but I was yelling, “Pedal, Pedal, Pedal!” every time I saw that blinking light. I was trying to get in a hamstring stretch, but I kept having to coach the girls on the bikes. And my communication with the DJ wasn’t to the point where I could make eye contact with him. He was killing it anyway, and I liked the fact that we were driving the PRX hard. Screw the stretch. I tap out with one of the girl and go into another sprint on the FB Pro.

 

Justin’s back! The other girl taps out and we bring the LED back to orange, and green. It was kind of like that all night. Three electrics would have helped, but really we just needed more from the students. I think some type of introduction would have helped. The students probably didn’t know what the function of the pedal power bikes was, other than to climb all over them and have a blast. No, they knew, but the hormones were too strong. Freaking trumped!

 

Rock The Bike has left the building.

 

We only brought one of our PRX speakers this time. The other is in the shop on a pedal power integration project.

 

See more photos from the night on Flickr.

Both Sunday Streets and Maker Faire post their dates for 2010

Jan 8, 2010Posted by

Last year’s Dolores Park to Maker Faire Social Ride. Photo: dustinj

Maker Faire is back May 22 and 23 at San Mateo Fairground. Rock The Bike is aiming to make the Pedal Powered Stage event more fun this year and once again host the Dolores Park to Maker Faire Social Ride starting at 9AM on Saturday May 22.

Sunday Streets going huge in 2010.

Above: Sunday Streets’ founder Susan King taking us through the route maps for the 2010 season.

This year, all Sunday Streets days will go 10-3 instead of 10-2. The extra hour is key as it will help the Rock The Bike crew sleep in a bit and still bring out the Pedal Powered Stage. Many thanks for this compassionate update to one of our favorite events.

Schedule

  • March 14: Embarcadero, starting at Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39, south to China Basin and Terry Francois Blvd.
  • April 11: Along the Great Highway, coinciding with World Health Day’s “1,000 Cities, 1,000 Lives” international event, as one of thousands of cities hosting simultaneous car-free events worldwide.
  • April 18: Bayview, along 3rd Street from King and 4th (Caltrain Station) to Bayview Playground.
  • May 23: Bayview, in conjunction with the 3rd Street Corridor Project and Bayview Merchant’s Association’s “3rd Street Festival.”
  • June 20: Mission, along Valencia and 24th Streets. The day after Bicycle Music Festival. Epic weekend in SF!
  • July 11: Mission.
  • August 22: Great Highway/Golden Gate Park.
  • September 19: NEW: Western Addition, exact location TBD.
  • October 24: NEW Civic Center/Tenderloin, exact location TBD.

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:

http://www.rat-patrol.org/Archives/Eiffel.html

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
Time:
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.