1. Debuting LiveOnBike at the 2010 SF Bicycle Music Festival. Shows our preparations for the LiveOnBike element of the 2008 Bicycle Music Festival, co-founded and sponsored by Rock The Bike.
2. Old School Human Power Research in the Rock The Bike workshop with Nate Byerley, inventor of our Fender Blender bike blenders, Marquist, neighborhood kid, Paul Freedman, founder of Rock The Bike, and Gabe Dominguez, musician and co-founder of the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival. See where we caught the bug for human power!
3. Mundo Surfing, circa 2009. Rock The Bike’s Pedal Power coach Pastana came up with an amazing new way to ride, and we’ve been surfing ever since.
4. Fossil Fool, LiveOnBike at the 2010 Barcelona Bicycle Music Festival. Great camera work and daytime light make for a clear demonstration of the LiveOnBike concept. Part of the 2010 Pleasant Revolution bike tour.
5. Fender Blender Bike Blenders available from Rock The Bike. We take bike blending very seriously. Check out the three types we make!
6. Side Visibility with the Down Low Glow. Notice how much brighter the Down Low Glow is from the side than regular blinkies. Please note that as of winter 2010 the Down Low Glow is off the market for a major redesign that will be ready soon.
7. The Mundo Cargo Bike. Rock The Bike helps test, design and engineer the Mundo and we love using it in our Pedal Powered Stage.
8. The Choprical Fish and the UMDJ — Documentation of a Fossil Fool original Soul Cycle and of collaborating on the UMDJ in Austin, Texas. Keep in mind, this is 2007 Technology.
Starting this Tuesday the 4th, Rock The Bike will be in Eugene, Oregon building a Pedal Powered Stage with the U of O Outdoor Program.
We’ll be building a Biker Bar, the 3-person pedal power system and LiveOnBike stage we debuted last year. It will be the key component of Eugene’s Pedal Powered Stage. We’re also delivering two Mundo 500‘s — powerful electric cargo bikes that double as efficient pedal power generators when isolated with our Lunar Lander kickstand. The five pedalers’ efforts will flow into a Pedal Power Utility Box, and the state of the pedal power will display in a 6′ tall Pedalometer.
Our crew will include Pastana, Pedal Power intern Jeff Hansen, bassist and experienced bike rocker Jared May, Cara, and yours truly, Fossil Fool, the Bike Rapper.
Pastana has been one of Rock The Bike’s most loyal crewmembers, and he’s one of the reasons we create magic at our events. At our Earth Day event at USF he was the one who cornered a loose goat, roped it with a cam strap, and proudly marched it back into the quad:
Jeff the Pedal Power intern is back! Last summer he helped us build our Biker Bar and learned how to crew Rock The Bike events. He lives to build pedal power gear.
Jared May on bass:
Cara is an experienced bike tourer and will be holding down our crew table and merch station. Come say hi and get on the email list.
Moving the technology forward.
We are excited to improve the Biker Bar and to test our new Pedal Power Direct Circuit.
In the photo above you can see how the orange rear supports of the swingarms will relieve the bar. This is also the first time we will be building our own trailer chassis out of raw aluminum stock materials. Earlier this week I borrowed a truck and shopped for metal in Oakland.
The Direct Circuit accepts incoming power from the pedalers and feeds it directly into the JBL powered speakers without a AC/DC inverter. This cutting edge circuit comes out of a collaboration with our electronics genius Jake in our Berkeley workshop. It has the potential to improve the efficiency of a pedal powered music experience by up to 30%.
Four years in development.
The work in Eugene follows four years of active research into Pedal Powered music. Check out this early video of R&D on the Pedal Powered P/A:
More recently our collaborative work has taken us to Brooklyn, NY, and Austin, Texas, where we have built Pedal Powered gear collaboratively with Band Of Bicycles and Pure Austin Fitness. The Outdoor Program heard about Rock The Bike through the Pleasant Revolution, who also use our Pedal Power gear.
Pedal powering the Willamette Valley Music Festival, Saturday May 8
El Arbol has the same enclosed volumen and audio componentry of a JBL PRX535, our favorite pro-sound speaker, and is a powerful two-person generator:
At most of our events we try to pedal power the entire music experience, including the monitors, mixer, mains, and any instruments that plug in. Depending on what instruments a band uses, we have been able to get the entire music experience down to 200 watts!
However at the WVMF, the organizers wanted a bigger sound than we can provide, and will be bringing in a hanging line-array system like the photo below:
The power consumption of the audio equipment at WVMF will be closer to 2000-5000 watts! What can we do with Pedal Power in the context of a festival that’s bringing in such heavy equipment? We can help the musicians hear.
7-8 pedalers will power 4 on-stage monitors (3 JBL PRX 535’s and one Mackie SRM 450). The pedalers will be positioned right next to the stage where they can make eye contact with the musicians. Powering the stage monitors should make for a intimate connection between the pedalers and performers, though perhaps less so with the audience.
A key stop on a rapidly developing West Coast Bike Culture route.
Now that Eugene will have a Pedal Powered Stage, the West Coast is quickly becoming a destination for bike touring musicians. In theory these bike touring musicians can carry just their instruments, play acoustic shows in the small towns, and pedal powered shows in the larger cities, like San Francisco, Eugene, Portland, Chico, Seattle, and LA.
Last year the Pleasant Revolution World Bicycle Tour passed through Eugene, inspiring them to raise funds and build the pedal powered stage. Who will be next?
In the true spirit of the Bicycle Music Festival, we pedal powered five bands, went LiveOnBike with a scratch guitarist, fed and quenched sweaty pedalers with tea, kombucha, pies hauled in by bike and a local street chef, and featured a contortionist, a unicyclist, a bootleg beer garden, and a quartet of breakdancers, putting us squarely on the Road to this year’s SF Bicycle Music Festival.
Mark Wessels serving up a delightful unicycle performance.
The Shotgun Wedding Quintet rocking after midnight.
We rolled these platforms in Donkey Kong style for a captivating Tara Quinn performance on contortion and aerial hoop. Photo: Kai
The Genie’s LiveOnBike performance. Afterwards I heard lots of great feedback on The Genie’s music, but one repeated request was to create a raised stage for our LiveOnBike performances. People in the back couldn’t see him.
Above: School kids rushed to the fence as the Genie sound checked the day before The Road To BMF.
After the LiveOnBike ride, we hauled the speakers off the Biker Bar and converted it to Pedal Power mode, sound checked Justin Ancheta, and got the party started. Above: Shotgun Wedding Quintet
Our Pedal Powered Stage gear included two Electric Mundos and the Biker Bar. We also brought out the Fender Blender Pro, hooking up the pedalers with smoothies.
For my performance I wanted to show both my passions, bike rapping and bicycle customizing, so I debuted my new tall bike, El Arbol. It’s still in progress, but the frame, drivetrain, and roots are complete after a year of hard work in the Complete Fab workshop with welder Jay Broemmel. I rode it into the room, deployed the roots, made rock signs, climbed down, and then pedal powered the lighting, which outlines the shape of the tree.
The night after, a few of us went for a 10 mile ride to the Richmond and back, deploying the roots numerous times as we wiggled through the Haight, and enjoying ample 360 visibility from the pedal powered lighting.
I wasn’t the only bicycle customizer showing off two-wheelers at the Road To BMF. Above: Jay Broemmel tightening the Dragon Bike’s clutch.
Many thanks to those who came out to enjoy this night of music, food, circus, and bike culture. Although we weren’t able to secure a liquor license because BMF’s non-profit status is still in progress with the San Francisco Parks Trust, we were able to raise hundreds for BMF.
Many thanks to Honest Tea, Bike Basket Pies, Sol Cocina, 21st Amendment Brewery, Cell Space, Big Top Cooperative, and all the performers.
Got photos, and video from the Road To BMF? Send us a link!
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.
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.”
Thanks to the Maker Faire community, bands, pedalers, and crew! Maker Faire was a blast this past weekend. See you next year at the Pedal Powered Stage.
Oona Garthwaite performing on Saturday at the Pedal Powered Stage.
The Maker Faire community provided all the power used to amplify the bands.
Cello Joe performs under pedal power at Maker Faire.
Justin Anchetta performing on the Pedal Powered Stage, framed by the Biker Bar and the Rock The Bike tent.
The Biker Bar was mostly in effect on its West Coast debut. When it worked, it worked very well, and the noise level coming from the gearbox was acceptable, especially mounted as it was on grass.
But there were several mechanical issues, all of which stemmed from spec’ing hardware that was too wimpy for the task of securing the gear box to the frame. The wood screws we chose pulled out of the 3/4″ plywood on Saturday afternoon.
Since we had added between the gear box and the plywood, a shockproofing layer to reduce noise, there was room for the screws to flex and work loose.
We switched to our 2-bike system shown above.
On Sunday, reinforcements arrived. Leif and Idran brought tools and better hardware from Berkeley.
5 Cent Coffee’s Smitty Delacroix taking a Ukelele solo whilst pedaling the Electric Mundo.
Kids pitching in some Human Power on the Biker Bar.
It was the first event where we used a proper pro-sound setup, with the mixer located out in the audience, where Gabe, our sound guy, could make eye contact with the bands and make adjustments as needed. Bands enjoyed better sound quality than any previous Rock The Bike event. We had two JBL PRX535 main speakers, and one JBL EON 10″ monitor, all digitally powered.
At the end of the second day, we challenged two pedalers to produce as much power as possible for a 10 minute dance session. It felt like the entire Faire collected at the Pedal Powered Stage to jump and shake one last time before the event closed.
We had our West Coast debut of Pedal Powered Spin Art. One of the really nice things about Spin Art is that little kids can easily pedal it. Blending requires more power and for kids, this requires a certain focus. In our Fender Blender video, you can see the look of determination on 8-year-old Arthur’s face as he blends a smoothie. Compare that to the relaxed expression of the girl above. That’s the difference with Spin Art. The level of physical exertion for Spin Art is much lower, so kids can get totally immersed in the Spin Art without needing to think about their next pedal stroke.
The Spin Art station doubled as a bike blender, cranking out ice cold smoothies for the crew.
Mafi makes a sign for Spin Art.
The weekend started with an awesome group ride from Dolores Park. Photo: Dustin Jensen
The weekend started with an awesome group ride from Dolores Park. Cello Joe added his beat to the music from our Soul Cycles.
The Biker Bar was carrying the speakers and several instruments for the bands. The old SLA battery for the Electric Mundo only lasted the first quarter of the ride. After that we had to push up the hills and at intersections to get it started.
Luckily we had strong pedalers with good attitudes. Oliver took it for the last 8 miles.
Justin Anchetta took the middle leg.
Each night after the Faire, we took Caltrain back to the City and rode home with loaded up Mundos and Xtracycles.
Gabe of SHAKE YOUR PEACE! leading a singalong.
We got a little dance party going on the Caltrain at the end of Day 1.
Rock The Bike says a huge thank you to Central Park Conservancy for getting us involved in Earth Day 2009, and helping us get Rock The Bike NYC off the ground. Here are some of the highlights from our visit to New York over the past 11 days.
We had a blast meeting the public at Earth Day. Above, Pedal Powered Spin art.
We debuted our new multi-person pedal power system, the Biker Bar. Three bikes share a common drive shaft, that turns a powerful generator on the fourth bike, an Electric Mundo (blue bike on the left)
Unfortunately, in its first outing, the Biker Bar was no match for the power-hungry PA equipment that event organizers supplied. The power consumption of the audio system was approximately 300-400 watts with one person speaking on a microphone, not even any music playing.
Ever since we started doing Pedal Powered Stage events, clients and organizers have been asking “Why can’t we use the speakers we already have?” Good question. We commonly answer “Because we use the new generation of digitally powered speakers, and their higher efficiency makes pedal power possible.” But in the process of working with Central Park and other clients, they kept asking… So with Central Park, we accepted the challenge. We put our efforts into making the Biker Bar powerful, simple, and efficient. We told them “Sure, you can.”
But on the day of the event their equipment’s power draw was just too much. Suddenly Pedal Power felt really hard. When a chain snapped, we talked with the Central Park team and decided to focus on our other offerings and let their music stage run on wall power. Luckily they had that backup option at the ready. In future events, we definitely plan to have a 30-45 minute battery backup, which will allow us to fix mechanicals or other issues without letting the performers down.
Luckily, the Spin Art station and the Bike Blenders were a huge hit.
Kids of all ages were able to make Spin Art and pedal for other kids.
Above, the Tropicalia team making bike blended smoothies.
We had bright bikes and big smiles to share with the crowds.
And tricks to share… Above, Sara floating on a Mundo. Galen ollies.
We biked everything back to Brooklyn on a hot afternoon.
Travis piloted the Biker Bar, which becomes a cargo trailer to get gear home from an event. Just add the wheels!
The Electric Mundo helps haul the 250 pound load up and over the Williamsburg Bridge.
Above: Rolling back from Central Park with our crew, friends, cousins, and the Choprical Fish.
Getting ready for Central Park was a huge task. We arrived a week ahead of time and only set our tools town to pack for the park at 2AM the night before. Check out the preparations below:
First things first! How about a social ride to get to know each other.
Leif keeps the beat as Galen and Lopi haul gear across Brooklyn with Mundos and the trailer.
We set up a little workshop at Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward.
Below, hand stretching the frame of the Mundo to fit the electric rear wheel.
We generated many sparks and generally looked bad ass with our protective eye wear.
We solved engineering riddles. Above trying to anticipate issues with the drive train of the Spin Art station.
We used the Choprical Fish as transportation bike and ‘getter’.
Above, 75 pounds of Sealed Lead Acid batteries.
Of course having the Fish in New York meant there were a few impromptu street parties and even a cypher around town over the past week.
Above, freestyle session in front of a school in Soho. A teacher came out and said “How about a song about getting back to class?!”
Ran into Antioquia on my way to work. The band got seriously inspired by riding around San Francisco with us at Bicycle Music Festival this year and are now on their way to Santa Cruz on Xtracycle SUB’s. It’s a shake-down tour, getting used to being bike-touring musicians. In the future they’re hoping to have their own pedal-powered PA system for live shows. Here’s one of their videos below from performing at the Bicycle Music Festival in June.
Check out their upcoming shows this weekend and October 7 at the Elbo Room in SF!
This video gives a taste of the LiveOnBike performances we’ve been doing on SF Cruiser rides this summer. Joel Elrod, who had just finished playing a gig with Pleasuremaker, is drumming on a SPDS electronic drum machine. The signal from the SPDS is carried from the back of the Mundo to the front where it enters a DIT Head Unit containing a Rolls MX56c 4-Channel mixer and Shure Wireless body pack microphone, and DoubleWide Down Low Glow battery that powers the SPDS and a dual tube DLG system for 5 hours.
Skip ahead to 1:15.
The LiveOnBike rig also has a microphone seen in this video of Janaysa performing at the Bicycle Music Festival, but it takes longer to set up, so we haven’t been using it with Joel. The signal of the Shure body pack on the LiveOnBike rig is caught by the receiver on the backrest of the Choprical Fish. I select the tracks from an iPod on the control panel of the Fish. When I pick a new track, Joel listens for a few moments and then picks up the beat and improvises on the playing-card-sized rubber pads of the SPDS.
Both Adam (pilot of the LiveOnBike Mundo) and I have the ability raise and lower the volume level of the SPDS. When I was piloting the bike for Janaysa, I was able to set her vocals and keyboard levels independently using Channel 1 and Channel 2 of the MX56c. We were experiencing a very short range with our wireless transmitter that night, as you can hear in the first moments of the videos.
The DIT Head Unit uses the excellent 1-button KlickFix handlebar mounting system, and the wiring harness simply Velcros to the bike, so we can convert the Mundo from Town Hauler to Rock Star in only 5 minutes, and that includes mounting the SPDS and aTractor seat. I know that’s lot of names for you, but well, that’s how we did it.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to celebrate the first ever Southbay Bicycle Music Festival, July 19th, 2008. On a warm sunny afternoon we met at Hermosa Pier, sang happy birthday to Cruiser of the week “Tony’, then we headed off towards the Esplanade cruisin’ to the Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. (What can I say, it felt like we were heading off to Woodstock so the mix was leaning a little towards the ’60’s for this ride)We had a few newbies and some returning youngsters like 2 year old Lola Martin and her 3 1/2 year old sister Sophia, who came with their dad Roger. (Sophia and Lola are former Southbay Cruisers of the Week’ as well.)
As we made our way to Valley Park we were greeted by Makena, one of our featured artists, all set and ready to perform for us thanks to help from ‘Amy ‘The Wonder Woman’ who missed the ride so that she could decorate the park with posters and banners and help the musicians set up. She was also helped by Mary Caldera-who along with Shawnee made two awesome posters just for this occasion. (See pics on www.southbaycruiser.com)
After settling down to a barbecue, Makena kicked off the evening’s performances which included some classic and orignal hawaiian music which inspired us to get up and dance. All the way from Hilo, Hawaii, Makena was awesome, feeding our souls with island tunes like ‘Ulupalakua’ and ‘Waikiki Hula’ It was sure nice to finish a ride in a park and be greeted by Hawaiian music. This duo has performed on MTV and around the world and it was awesome to have them kick things off! They even taught us a little about Hawaiian culture between sets.
As the evening set in we lit our bonfire and were mesmerized by Manhattan Beach’s Delfina. Although only 18 years old, and with only one year of guitar/singing behind her, you’d think she’d been playing since the day she was born. Filling up our souls with stirring original tunes like ‘April Eyes’, and ‘Ritmo Porteno’, this Argentian born rising star had us all on the edges of our rocks around the bonfire. Were it not for the fear that our shared battery powered amps might run dry, she could have performed for us all night long.
Next came The 3 Heads. Acoustic rock legends in their hometown of Eureka,CA, these four took our makeshift stage around the bonfire, and picked up on what Makena and Delfina had started. Belting out original tunes ‘Undertow’, ‘Holiday’, and their anthem ‘World Was Ours’, these guys really helped set an intimate mood around the campfire with their acoustic guitars, bass, and cajon. Their jokes between songs were even more entertaining. At one point they broke into a spur of the moment spontaneous ‘Southbay’ rap song at the end. We were even entertained to one encore performance although, we would have loved to heard them play a few more.
We finished off the night with some karaoke performances including a few from Victor and his son singing some classic Doors. It’s hard to follow up to acts like Makena, Delfina, and The 3 Heads, but we had to try, and we had fun doing it too.
Last but certainly not least, we helped benefit ‘A Window Between Worlds’, (www.awbw.com) a local Venice,CA based group that helps abused women and children get a second chance on life by providing then with safe housing and an art healing program. We brought them canned foods, art supplies, clothing, and $20 in cash donations.
We are looking forward to the next Southbay Bicycle Music Festival. A year seems a little long to wait, so we might have this become a semi annual or possibly even quarterly event.
Some interesting scenes from the workshop this week, preparing for BMF. The musical part starts at 3:05. It was awesome to see the expressions on our neighbors’ faces as we cruised around West Berkeley with Janaysa singing and playing.
Folk / Soul singer Janaysa came by the workshop on Tuesday to test-ride the piano mount on the Mundo. She was initially ‘concerned’ but left on a high after a good try out.
We had a great practice ride tonight in the neighborhood around our workshop. The aTractor Seat and custom bamboo piano mount were both strong and comfortable, allowing her plenty of leg room. She practiced about 5 songs, giving me time to see how the bike handled. The handling was difficult but manageable. Even the slightest uphill made it noticeably harder to maintain a straight line, because her weight is so far behind the rear axle. The frame was up to the task, but the front end just felt light. I had to really maintain focus and keep my arm muscles tensed at all times.
The sound of her voice and piano playing made it all worth it, though. I’m really excited to bring her unique music to the streets at BMF, live!
Just in time for Bicycle Music Festival, we’ve come up with the aTractor Seat for live on-bike music performances and superior passenger comfort.
It all started one night when we were sitting around the cafe on one of these rare warm San Francisco nights. I didn’t have a Soul Cycle with me. I had the Mundo. And Mafi had her cuatro, so we decided to have an ‘acoustic night,’ and had a beautiful ride with lots of sing-a-longs.
The experience got my wheels turning and I started looking for ways to turn the Mundo into a serious performance bike. The aTractor Seat is a mod to the Mundo’s frame that allows us to mount an IKEA tractor seat rigidly to the Mundo’s frame. The frame is so stiff, that I can carry a passenger on the very rear of the rack, and I still don’t feel any appreciable frame flex. The front end does get a little light, because there’s so much weight behind the rear axle, but not enough to make me nervous, unless we’re talking about a 200lb passenger. I took my landlord Nick in Berkeley to lunch today. He weighs about 170. The front wheel never picked up, but the steering was a little less immediate.
Anyway, I wanted you to see the types of mods that you can easily do with a Mundo. The tubing on the Mundo is thick-gauge steel, not boutique thin-walled cromoly. You can take this to any welder and they’ll be able to weld a bracket on there for you for your surfboard, skis, camera mount, whatever.
Here’s a cool new video we just uploaded about the Mundo, featuring a new song of mine, “Sendin’ Out”:
This was one of about 10-15 short performances I did during the festival. Later in the video you see footage of Brenda talking about the bike she just one from New Belgium and Clif Bar. I thought she was rad so I sponsored her with a Down Low Glow for the bike she just bought.
Psyched to be performing at my first festival this summer. Will be teaming up with New Belgium to host a cruiser ride on Saturday afternoon, and a late night party, as well as numerous daytime ‘street performances’. Come on down!
Had a great time performing with Ken the mad scientist, Joel, Zori, Mafi, and Daniel last night at the KFOG Kaboom. We had completely sustainable sound — solar charged keyboard amp, and human powered vocals. We performed about 2 hours in an area filled with tailgaters, for tips, food, and fun.