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You Power the BMF Sound System!

Human beings create all the electricity needed to run BMF’s equipment, including lights, the sound board, the guitar amplifiers, and more. The audience takes turns volunteering to ride the bicycles (made stationary with special kickstands), and can ride for as long or as short as they want. When they’re done pedaling, another volunteer jumps on and keeps on going. If there’s not enough leg-power the sound system will turn off, and the BMF doesn’t use an immediate backup generator to get things turned on again. Instead, enthusiastic Pedal Power Coaches run up and down the line of pedalers like cheerleaders and the crowd roars encouragement to the pedalers – sending them the energy they need to “oomph” the system back to life. The BMF is the largest human-powered music festival in the world, featuring up to 20 pedal-power bicycles.

The pedal-powered sound system used at the Bicycle Music Festival is designed by Rock The Bike in Berkeley, CA, a dynamic company headed by BMF co-founder Paul Freedman (aka Fossil Fool the Bike Rapper).

The bikes and audio equipment used on the day of the festival are primarily an amalgamation of equipment owned by the festival’s Co-Presenters: Rock the Bike, and the bike-touring band SHAKE YOUR PEACE! (headed by BMF co-founder Gabe Dominguez). It’s also supplemented by the generous support of many friends (thank you for the support through the years: The Ginger Ninjas, Justin Ancheta, and Cello Joe for audio gear, and Ezra Lipp for the drums).

Bicycle Music Festival has been the spark that motivates Rock The Bike to improve the Pedal Powered Stage year after year, and the latest iteration of the technology is always available for purchase at rockthebike.com. If you’re interested in renting pedal powered sound equipment for your next event, and/or would like to book bike-music bands, feel free to reach out to either Rock The Bike or SHAKE YOUR PEACE! and they’d be happy to give you their respective quotes. Along with the vibrant characters of the San Francisco bike-music community, the two organizations collaborate frequently and stage bike-music events throughout the year.

If you’re interested in building your own pedal-powered sound gear, we recommend using online communities such as Instructables to research pedal power generators. Other bicycle music festivals around the world (notably Toronto BMF, and Chico BMF) have successfully built their own pedal-powered sound systems.

Chico Bicycle Music Festival’s pedal-powered sound system