Rock The Bike: BLOG

3000-person Pedal Powered concert system fits in briefcase. Rock The Bike’s biggest custom build to date.

Nov 17, 2013Posted by

RussianDolls sound system speaker

Demolding montage
Demolding wave guides. Each of the slots is at a slightly different angle, allowing the 6 tweeters to reach different parts of the crowd.  Photo: Mike Cobb.

1/9/15 Update! The Russian Dolls / BRX system is in use! Check out the photos and blog post about the 9/21/14 People’s Climate Rally in Oakland.

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It’s always exciting when you move from the brainstorming and drawing phases of a custom project into the hands-on, smelly, goopy, dusty build phase. That’s happening right now for a project that could hopefully have a big impact on how we do our largest Pedal Powered concerts. It doesn’t have a concise name at the moment, so I’ll call it the 3000-person Pedal Powered Concert System that Fits into a Briefcase. Another name I’m considering is “America’s Concert” in honor of the AC72 America’s Cup boats that partially inspired it. It’s also inspired by Fukishima & Global Warming, Bike Party, James Bond, and Rube Goldberg.

It’s a new way to reduce the volume and weight of our 12-speaker concert PA system, using ultralight materials and a stacking / nesting / Russian Dolls redesign of the loudspeaker cabinets.

Loudspeakers contain lots of air. Air is what allows them to reproduce low frequencies like bass notes and the beat of dance music.  But it means that they take up lots of space.

1 Bike / 1 Speaker used for 500 activists at 350.org’s Global Power Shift summit in Istanbul

Jul 30, 2013Posted by

When we heard 350.org was gathering 500 climate justice activists in Istanbul for the Global Power Shift conference in June, we offered to loan them our latest and simplest yet Pedal Power system, “One Bike / One Speaker” .  Since several of the organizers were coming from the Bay Area, we reduced our smallest system to two boxes, both within airline regulations for checked baggage, bringing the shipping cost to 0. We met up with two of the organizers to hand off the two boxes, one at a BART station and one at our shop. 350.org would have to supply a bike in Istanbul and swap the rear wheel for the lightweight generator wheel we provided. We supplied detailed setup info to ensure the system would get good use.  Next: wait for update. 

Update from Kevin a few days into GPS:  “Hey! Just saying it’s rocking. We did a 500 person plenary outside which was great, and its become a staple for our daily announcements. Next up, the Open Mic…”

The photos show that this One Bike system was able to amplify music and speech for the entire conference. 

Thank you Bicycle Music Festival for a day of music and inspiration!

Jul 12, 2013Posted by

June 22nd marked the 7th and largest San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival. Please click “more” to see an album of photos from BMF. Many thanks to photographer Volker Neumann.

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

May 12, 2013Posted by

AP-coverage
 

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!

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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: http://www.facebook.com/events/325251237585774/?ref=ts&fref=ts

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.

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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!”

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