This custom art bike, made and based in San Francisco, rides through the city at 12 feet tall, then sprouts roots, branches, and leaves at events, where it becomes a 2500-Watt double-stack main speaker at our Pedal Powered Stage. Integrated LEDs look stunning at night. The Tree has two seats and creates all of its own power using an integrated One Bike / One Speaker circuit.
Above, El Arbol in action as a Aerial Dance rig at Gaia Fest in 2012.
Aerialist Shredder performs on hoop from El Arbol’s trusty rear branch.
Tara performs on El Arbol at the start of the SF Marathon
El Arbol without its Canopy of Leaves.
The sound quality is incredible. By using the audio elements from 2 Modified JBL PRX loudspeakers, it has the ability to get music out at festival levels with very low distortion. We use El Arbol as half of our Pedal Powered Stage at the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival. The height of the upper loudspeaker (9′ up!) helps the sound spread out easily out above a crowd, without requiring deafening volume levels for those in the front.
It’s fun and expands the notion of ‘Stage’ to include the pedalers.
Huge thanks to the crew from the University of Oregon Outdoor Program, where Rock The Bike built a Biker Bar and related Pedal Powered Stage gear last week. Our work culminated in the all-day Willamette Valley Music Festival.
In many ways this was an ideal project for us, working hand in hand with local bike people, transferring knowledge of producing bike music events, and enjoying many fun rides throughout the week.
To get our gear to Oregon, we rented a full-size truck. Rolling past the refinery in Richmond on our way out of the Bay was a sober reminder of the carbon footprint of out-of-town gigs.
Pedal Power intern Jeff Hansen (hereforth “Hansen”) met us in Eugene, ready to work! Looks like he’s been taking care of himself since last summer.
Here is the project space we used, the Outdoor Program’s huge ‘barn.’ It’s under renovation right now and the crew will be pedal powering the opening party, June 4.
There was a very open community vibe throughout the week with many supporters and bike people coming through to pitch in here and there.
A reporter from the Eugene Register-Guard snapped this rad photo of Pastana, Hansen, OP’s Dave Villalobos, and yours truly, on El Arbol.
El Arbol served as a pedal powered shop radio at various points in the week.
Our daily commute to the Barn was 3 miles from our vacation rental house.
Alex truing up El Arbol’s rebuild wheel — 10 gauge spokes!
Jared May joined on Thursday night, adding his bass stylings to several short ‘tweener’ sets
El Arbol served as a two person generator and a functioning speaker that helped the pedalers feel ‘in the music.’
Northwest Community Credit Union turned out hundreds of smoothies with their first generation Fender Blender Pro.
At 4PM the festival audience got on their bikes and joined for a LiveOnBike performance by yours truly, Fossil Fool, the Bike Rapper, with Jared May on bass.
Jared picked a few effects pedals to strap to the footrest area, and we cruised without incident on my new rear wheel — Thanks Alex! The ride the night before had taught us an important lesson about how the weight of the passenger affects the deployment of El Arbol’s roots. Through trial and error the night before Jared found out that the rear facing passenger needs to stand on the footrest, taking weight off the roots at the moment of deployment and retraction.
Just two months ago, I was copying a tractor seat from IKEA to create the rear facing seat in a block of pink foam.
At the end of the ride, we set up in a plaza near the festival for El Arbol’s first street party!
For the headliners, CunninLynguists, we powered DJ Flip Flop’s turntables and monitors. It was a fairly easy load, only 80 watts, and we never let him down.
What follows are dimly lit photos that show the scale of the event, one of Rock The Bike’s largest in terms of crowd size.
In the shot below, the two dancers above the crowd are on the backs of OP’s Mundo 500’s. The bikes themselves are completely hidden.
Here are the two Mundo 500’s earlier in the evening when the crowd was much smaller.
Alex returning event promo the day after the festival.
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!