Rock The Bike: BLOG

World’s Largest Human Powered Music Festival returns to San Francisco June 22. Be There!

May 30, 2013Posted by

We co-produce and Pedal Power this annual community-powered music festival which always falls on the Saturday closest to the Solstice. This year, our 7th, is going to be our best ever. Please say you’ll join us 🙂

Check out this amazing video from last year’s event:

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

May 28, 2013Posted by


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. (more…)

Thanks and Sup. Avalos’ office for the opportunity to Pedal Power Bill McKibben

May 12, 2013Posted by


When I heard Bill McKibben was going to be in San Francisco to announce a recent success in Supervisor Avalos’s initiative for San Francisco to divest from Oil giants, I jumped at the chance to Pedal Power the speech. Avalos’ office put me in touch with the organizers who were excited to make it happen. 

On the day of the rally, Nio and I transported two of our Modified JBL Loudspeakers and towed one electric Fender Blender Pro to use as the generator. We used our newest Pedal Powered Stage system for small events, called One Bike / One Speaker, in which the ultracapacitor (storage tank) and protection circuitry are inside one of the speakers. There’s no red customized toolbox as there usually has been in Rock The Bike’s Pedal Power setups. This makes it fast to set up, and easier to transport.

The first thing Bill did when taking the stage was fist-bump the pedaler. His message on the mic is very inclusive and echoes previous giants of social movements: “We may not beat this challenge, but I so look forward to fighting alongside all of you.

I love that in the AP’s entire article about divestment, the only mention of bicycling is in the lead photo. Rock The Bike!


A bangin’ Bike To Work Day

May 11, 2013Posted by

This morning on Bike To Work Day I was racing to drop off a Bike Blender to UCSF for their Health Fair. In classic fashion I’d double-booked the drop off with a really important meeting, the ISCOTT commission meeting where Bicycle Music Festival was to present our Nighttime street closure plan. I didn’t check the bike routes and ended up climbing this WALL of a hill. Switchbacking too tight I flipped the blender and pushed it up the second half. Happy Bike To Work Day!

Drop complete, ready to sprint to ISCOTT. Only problem is I have no lock, and they’re NOT going to let me bring it in.  (more…)

Justin Ancheta LiveOnBike at Sunday Streets

Mar 30, 2013Posted by

Justin Ancheta Band to debut their new CD “Plant” at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco April 13. RSVP:

Bike Blending: How many crew? How much ingredients? How many bikes?

Jan 28, 2013Posted by

Here’s a copy of a recent receipt from Trader Joe’s for a Bike Blending event that served 100 people.


To serve the most people in the least time, here are the factors to consider:

Ingredients. This is the easiest. Ingredients cost $0.60 per 8 oz smoothie. Scale this to meet your crowd needs.

Crewmembers. This helps you prepare the pitchers of ingredients faster. 1 person per bike for a relaxed event (100-200 servings). 3 crewmembers per bike if you think you’ll be slammed (300 – 500 servings).

Number of Fender Blender bikes. Increase the number of bikes to maximize your participation levels when maximum crowd flow is expected. Each bike can do 100- 250 8 oz smoothies per hour, depending on the number of crewmembers.

Type of pitcher: See the Osterizer v. High Performance comparison. It’s easier to serve large crowds with a high performance blender.

Number of pitchers. Two pitchers are incredibly useful. Make double the same amount of time by prepping a second batch while blending the first. If you foresee having vegan/dairy-free smoothies you might want a pitcher just for those.

The sLEDgehammer has escaped the tube.

Dec 17, 2012Posted by

pedal powered game

Our Pedal Powered lighting challenge, the sLEDgehammer, has escaped the tube.  We’ve both advanced the circuitry and the creativity of this piece of gear, making it even more of a crowd pleaser.

The sLEDgehammer is a Pedal Power game where you have to pedal really hard (but not for very long) to win. When you win, the power you’ve built up by pedaling gets unleashed in a dazzling light sequence. In the example above, a river appears to flow down the courtyard away from the pedaler, then the Peace & Love sign lights up. The 9-segment ‘reward’ sequence lasts only a couple seconds. When someone wins the game and sees the sequence, there’s a palpable release of energy. The celebrations are awesome to see. At the holiday party where we set this up, people were shouting “Peace & Love!”


Basic questions to consider when crafting your Pedal Powered Stage

Oct 16, 2012Posted by

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:

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 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 are 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:
  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.


Watch Fossil Fool’s TED Audition.

Aug 13, 2012Posted by

VOTING IS CLOSED! Thanks for reading and watching the video!

Friends, customers, and fans: Please support my campaign to speak at the global TED 2013 conference. There is an open voting and comment period happening NOW until the end of August, in which you can watch and review all the amazing auditions that took place in the past 6 months. I auditioned in Vancouver in May. While the TED team make the final decisions, your feedback and ratings are going to help this talk get noticed. Please see bold instructions below for info about how to take action!


Ride to Gaia Fest with Rock the Bike

Jul 13, 2012Posted by

Beginning July 30 from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, we will pedal northward, covering 180-miles in 4-days, arriving in style at Gaia Fest, an awesome music and camping festival at the Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville.

For the past 4 years, we have mobilized hundreds to ride 20 miles south from San Francisco to Maker Faire.

At the Bicycle Music Festival, we move our entire festival, including our 10000-watt Pedal Powered Stage and hundreds of fans, from our day venue to our night venue 5 miles away.

We have studied from the masters of self-supported music and bike touring, the Pleasant Revolution.  Cello Joe, in foreground, will be biking with us. Kipchoge, in background will also be biking to Gaia, but from the North.


And now, we are ready to bring YOU safely by bicycle to Gaia Fest!

We will be carrying all the supplies we need for our tour, then setting up a Pedal Powered Stage featuring some of the best bands at the Gaia Festival, right across from the Main Stage!