Pedal Power

For main stage and side stage options for your event, festival, or private gathering

Please fill out our FORM HERE, for best fitting our offerings to your event production.

Pedal Powered Lighting and Sound to engage your audience, fans, friends, or community in a whole other way.

Pedal Powered Lighting and Sound to engage your audience, fans, friends, or community in a whole other way.

ROCK THE BIKE – CARGO BIKE WITH CARRYING CAPACITY OF A MINI-CAR. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO BE DIRECTED TO MORE INFO:

http://www.upisf.com – Urban Permaculture Ideas. If you are wanting locally grown food, get your hands dirty and help bring local food to your district.

Take a Soul Graffiti trip to a special ecological place where you can learn about native plants and ways to harmonize with nature and your surroundings. Soul Graffiti is partnered with www.RockTheBike.com to give eco-tours and educational outings to the most beautiful spots around the bay area all using bicycles and public transportation. We have electric bicycles to rent as well if you do not desire the work out as you go method. Contact booking@soulgraffiti.com to learn when the next event will be taking place and where. We will also be posting events here so keep an eye out. YOU CAN ALSO CUSTOMIZE YOUR OWN BIKE PARTY TRIPS AND WE’LL CARRY THE LOAD – CONTACT US NOW.

Prepared by Paul Freedman (owner of Rock The Bike)

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Light Mandala - Los Angeles

Above: Fans ride away from the Day Venue of the 2013 San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival, while enjoying a LiveOnBike concert.

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Light Mandala’s and light show via pedal power:

The destination: a street closure and night time concert in San Francisco’s Mission District. In the foreground, the all important Pedalometer.

Outline: 

Music Gear:

The PA:

Mics:

Aerial Rigging:

Board:

Musicians’ onstage gear:

Power:

The Bikes

Concert dynamics. How it works.

Bands love Pedal Power:

Listening Levels:

Education and goals:

Lighting:

Other activities: Bike Blending

Music Gear:

The PA:

 

Our PA consists of the following speakers:

 

– Mains: 4 x Modified JBL VRX 932LAP line array driver (2 per side)

– Subs: 4 x Modified JBL PRX 618XLF subwoofer (2 per side)

3-5, as needed, Modified JBL PRX 612m wedge monitor.

 

Two subs per side, two tops per side. Wedge monitors as needed per band.

* “Modifed” means that these speakers run on DC power from the bikes, not AC power from an inverter. We open the amplifiers and make a handful of small changes to the boards that allow them to run on DC power. This bypasses the process of tranforming DC to AC (in an inverter) only to transform it back into DC inside the speaker. This makes our PA up to 40-45% more efficient than it is through an inverter. And our PRX and VRX loudspeakers are already known for being efficient ones thanks to their digital amplifiers. 40-45% is an unheard of efficiency gain in the world of pro audio. But we have measured it scientifically and it is one of the keys to our results.

 

In addition to the efficiency gain of having a DC powered PA, there’s an important stability gain. The power for our 12-speaker PA does not go through an inverter, but comes straight from ultracapacitors. Our pure sine inverters aren’t exposed to the dynamic range of the music and can run well within their ratings, a key to all-day stability. Our beautiful lighting elements (see below) are also pure DC and bypass the AC power system. The only devices that require AC power at our concerts — day or night — are musicians’ on-stage gear (see below) and our mixing board and few pieces of outboard gear. Our entire PA system (not including musicians’ on stage gear like guitar amplifiers) uses under 60 Watts of AC power. The rest of the power for our PA goes straight from the highly rated ultracapacitors (constantly fed by the bike generators) to the rails of the amplifiers.

Aerial Rigging:

We supply bamboo tripods with rated aerial rigging sufficient to elevate our mains up to 18’. The tripods are lightweight, bicycle-mobile, and look stunning at night.

 

Boards and sound gear:

X32 Behringer Compact with 40 input channels; 32 xLR inputs

Up to 4 monitor wedges, or an in-ear monitor option (up to 16 separate mixes) to lesson the pedal power load and ease of transporting the gear.

2 Mains: We can either go with the Line-Array from our 30 foot tall Bamboo poles, or a smaller option that still has the capacity to reach up to 600 people with two side fills attached to our subwoofer system.

Mics:

7 x SM57

7 x SM58

1 x Beta58

2 x Wireless SM58

1 x  Beta91A kick drum mic

This has generally been enough for bands up to 12 members.

 

Musicians’ onstage gear:

So what can musicians bring / play / do on stage? For most bands, the experience is interchangeable with playing at a traditional club or stage.

Above: The band Beautiful Machines performs at Maker Faire. Two laptops, 3 keyboards, guitar amp, effects pedals. This is a relatively complex and high Wattage setup for a band and we were able to power it with 12 people including some kids. It did feel harder than our other bands but with teamwork and good coaching we met the challenge and had a lot of fun sweating to power their music.

 

At our largest Pedal Powered Stage events, we no longer limit performers in what they can and can’t use on stage. We still prepare for every band by reading their rider, so that we know what they are expecting to use on stage. If we catch a potential issue with power draw, we can send them a power-measuring device to test their power use at a rehearsal. Below, results of a rehearsal power test by the heavy metal band Zombie Holocaust. Their max wattage was 287, well within the 1000W rating of our pure sine inverter.

 

Power:

The Bikes

Our system relies on power from up to 25 people on generator bikes.

 

We typically use a highly efficient hub generator in which nothing rubs the tire. As you can see in the photo, the rear wheel is off the ground, and the hub of this bike is bigger than normal. It’s loaded up with magnets and coils. When you pedal, the magnets move past the coils and create an electric field. Power comes out through a wire from the axle. Some of our bikes are cargo bikes that double as vehicles to haul gear to our local shows. Others are “Generator Pro” bikes where the power wheel is in the front. We also have a compact generator stand that accepts any bike.

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Above: A Pedal Power Utility Box suitable for a team of 10. Our concert boxes are similar but larger, or linked to each other for higher power handling.

 

DC power flows from the bikes through cables to Junction Boxes, where it then flows through heavier cables into Pedal Power Utility Boxes, which contain energy storing ultracapacitors, AC outlets and DC speaker outputs, and monitoring and safety circuitry. The key monitoring function is the display of voltage to pedalers through the Pedalometer (more below). The most important safety function is overvoltage protection.

Concert dynamics. How it works.

 

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A Pedal Power coach holds up a PEDAL sign if power is getting low.

Bikes are set up in a Biker Bar, usually off to one side of the stage. This is an arc that is not in the dancing area but has a view of the stage. If needed risers can ensure that the cyclists can see*. (* Note, Rock The Bike does not supply any staging.) If symmetry is preferred you can have 10-12 bikes on each side of the stage, though one long Biker Bar is pretty impactful visually.

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Generator Pros aligned by color theory in the Biker Bar.

 

We can turn the system on and speak through the mic if even 6-8 people are pedaling. If we need to use the system at full power, but there are not enough pedalers yet — such as for a sound check — we can do so by connecting our Lithium-Ion ebike batteries to power the system. Once a concert is going, people from the audience are willing to pedal and no batteries are needed. In fact, people often stay on the bikes after a performance is over just because they like pedaling. So it may be that we never need to use to the Lithium batteries.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.02.42 AMThe Pedalometer (light tube) is placed in a location where all can see. The Pedalometer makes it possible for a group of 20 or more pedalers to work together and achieve a shared result. It coordinates and syncs the group, tapping into the collective brain power, hearts and muscles of the 20+ bicyclists. Together they become a powerful, swift, and self-regulating 1000-3000 Watt DC power supply that can quickly respond to changing concert conditions (crescendos and such). Though not everyone can pedal at the same Wattage output, everyone has the same goal. The goal is: Keep the concert going. Keep the Pedalometer in the green. The higher, the better!

 

With 20+ bikes, it’s not noticeable to the pedalers when one or two people get off their bikes and two more hop on. There are enough other people to average it out. We always take the time to raise or lower the seat for a new rider when they get on a bike.  We also point to the Pedalometer and make sure they know how to read it.

 

Our Modified JBL PA system and our AC power inverter both draw from capacitor banks that the pedalers are constantly charging. The result is a harmonious balance between production and consumption of energy. To understand this, picture a waterfall in a mountain stream with a pool above feeding the falls and a pool below collecting. The pedalers are like a bucket brigade, constantly pumping and lifting water back from the lower pool to the upper pool, so that the falls can continue to flow and look impressive. The sound guy/girl is like god who can decide how much water is flowing over the falls and therefore how impressive they are. By raising and lowering the listening levels, she increases the power consumption of the concert and makes the sound travel farther. This makes the concert / waterfall sound / look impressive but makes the bucket brigade have to work a little harder. The job of our crew and sound team is to find a balance where the fans can enjoy great sounding music, from the front to the rear of the space, the band can hear themselves play on stage, and the pedalers are happy to keep on powering the show.

 

We check in with pedalers (and get on the bikes ourselves) to know whether it’s too hard or too easy. We constantly keep our eye on the Pedalometer. Once we reach our desired listening levels, we no longer raise the volume even if there is power available. Our 2013 Bicycle Music Festival was a pleasure in part because the power was in the green all day in Golden Gate Park. We never approached an outage and didn’t have to speak through the mic to get people to the bikes, or coach the pedalers to “bring the power back”. We achieved this by supplying more bikes than needed, which brought the average per-person Wattage requirement to about 30-40 Watts. If felt fun and relaxed to pitch in: not like a spin class, more like heading to the cafe. Having so many bikes means we don’t have to exclude people who pitch in less, which is especially important if there are disabled people, kids, elderly, overweight people, etc. who want to participate. We want everyone to be part of the team effort, not just athletes. Having more than enough bikes is the way to make that happen. 

Sure, if an athletic cyclist shows up at the Biker Bar and wants to generate way more power than the 30-40 Watt average, we say ‘bring it on.’ Even an average person is capable of producing 100-200 Watts if they want to, for a few minutes. We have used our gear to produce higher-Wattage experiments like the 30-person spin class that led to Chobani’s viral “U.S. Olympic Experience” video, shown below:

 

We also suggest promoting Pedal Power specifically in event outreach (posters, facebook, etc.) This way, when people arrive, they already know Pedal Power is going to happen and that they’re planning to ride for part of the day.

Bands love Pedal Power:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.03.24 AMLead singer Kata of Locura performs at 2011 Bicycle Music Festival.

 

Bands rise to the occasion. Bands give inspiring, heartfelt, fun, and slamming performances on the Pedal Powered Stage. It’s not just another stage, another city. The people power gives them a sense of gratitude that helps them connect with fans and break down the division between performer and fan. Pedal Powered performances have a certain “this is the moment” energy about them that brings out the best in musicians.

 

Listening Levels:

Another reason bands like performing on our stage is the sound.  Our sound team are devoted to getting the best results and on-stage sound with the available Wattage. And our listening levels are lower than typical stages, so musicians can hear each other play in a new way. Performing music in a really loud environment is disorientating. Sure, some people are good at it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or natural. Our listening levels make on-stage sound a lot more natural. Bands regularly tell us their set sounded better on the Pedal Powered Stage than at a major music festival they’d recently played. It’s because we care and because our listening levels are more humane for the bands and the audience. Our listening levels certainly allow fans to enjoy the presence of proper festival sound, something they can never get at home, in their car, or with headphones. But feeling the kick drum in one’s chest doesn’t mean you have to raise sustained levels above 100db. We’ve determined that our ideal listening levels in the danceable area are about 90-95 db. Our gear is capable of higher levels, but keeping it around 90-95 is a really pleasant shift in the music experience for bands and fans alike. It’s easier for pedalers to maintain, and it’s better for everyones’ ears too.

Education and goals:

The hacked highway sign above shows accumulated Wattage produced by pedalers at our concerts (units are Watt Hours). Fans and pedalers take pride as it ticks higher. This make it fun, intuitive, and social to learn about power. Power is a major issue in our world but it can be hard to understand. Pedal Power opens the heart and mind and begins a learning process. The realizations and awakenings from an experience like a Pedal Powered concert could make a real difference in the environmental movement. They happen 1000, 2000, or 3000 people at a time. The more people, the more effective the group realizations are.

 

We hope to inspire people through our concerts to pedal more often, by replacing car trips with bike trips. More than turning off a light switch, addressing ones transportation choices is the biggest personal impact any of us can make on the Climate (according to the Union of Concerned Scientists).

Social Impact Strategy:

We aim to involve local bike people, both because they are fun to work with on events, and because they can provide other people resources and encouragement to give biking a shot.

Every city has a community of bike people and advocates who are trying to push their city towards Liveable streets and more human powered transportation. Connecting with them is the way to help music fans translate their excitement into lifestyle change, i.e. bicycling as a transportation choice. Having the local bike community involved isn’t necessary for our system to work and engage fans on a music / entertainment level, but  makes for a greater social impact. The MC can say on the mic, “if you’re inspired by the amazing Pedal Powered music that’s happening here, remember that you can get that feeling every time you ride your bike. Please go check out the Bicycle Coalition table, where you can get info, bike maps, coupons, and encouragement to pedal every day. It’s one of the most important personal actions you can take to improve your fitness and help the Climate. Thanks!” In general the bike community is young, highly mobile, and can be good allies for promotion.

 

The transition we envision is starting to happen in a real way in our own music community, where musicians have begun biking to shows carrying their instruments and inspiring their audiences to do the same.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.03.50 AMCello Joe tours through Europe carrying his cello on the Pleasant Revolution bike music tour.

 

We are also trying to impart a health message. This message is experienced, not told, to participants. It feels different to everyone but basically the message is “Wow, my body is pretty cool. Look what I was able to do with my body today. I want to take care of my body.”

 

The last key message is of teamwork and community. Again, not delivered in words but through the experience of pedaling shoulder to shoulder with fellow concert goers. It can be hard to believe that it’s even worth trying to make change sometimes. The forces we confront seem so huge, so unstoppable. But an experience like Pedal Powering a concert shows that great things are possible when we work together in a fun spirit with a positive intent. It can have a profound impact if people believe in community.

 

But our highest goal of all is to entertain audiences. Fun, joy, dancing, laughter, and song are of the utmost importance to any Rock The Bike event. It so happens that amplification and pedaling increase the number of people having fun together, laughing, singing, dancing together. This is our mission: to harness the power of amplification for bringing people together in joy and song, but do so with good clean Pedal Power, bypassing all of the dirty energy sources that are causing division and harm in the world. We provide a living, breathing model that doing the right thing for the planet also does right for me. Pedaling gets endorphins going amongst the fans, and gives us a dependable energy source. Harmony in action.

 

Lighting:

Our gear looks great at night. We have 6 custom LED stage lighting panels, containing over 1000 LEDs each, encased in additional epoxy dies, as well as translucent speaker cabinets that pulse to the music. Rather than confine the creativity of lighting to someone behind a booth, we invite fans to power the lights. They can really participate in setting the mood of the concert. Reds, greens, and blues create beautiful violet and amber color fades when pedalers accentuate different parts of the music.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.04.11 AMThis Peace & Love banner has 7’ symbols and makes a stunning backdrop or visual element in the space.

 

We have other lighting elements that we have built over the years and can adapt them to the space. See our custom lighting work in the Services section of rockthebike.com .

Other activities: Bike Blending

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Human Power makes great smoothies. We can produce a smoothie booth near the Pedal Powered Stage that quenches the thirst of pedalers and keeps a line of people happy. There’s nothing like pedaling for your smoothie: hearing the ice crush, blending berries and fruits together, then getting to taste the product of your work.

 

The Fender Blender is Rock The Bike’s #1 product. – Please refer ‘Soul Graffiti’ for a discount on your order. Thank you.

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