Just returned from a really nice 3 days in Bristol participating in the radical bike projects gathering. My low key “how to build bike soundsystems” workshop at Kebele on Friday afternoon seemed to go quite well. I brought along various bits to make up a really basic system from scratch on the tabletop – an ipod, a car amp, a battery and a speaker – and this helped to keep it up the involvment and interest. Although we didn’t get on to the more advanced stuff like bass enclosure design, everyone seemed happy. Our demo soundsystem, twisted together wires and all, ended up provided the tunes for a lovely multi-course supper later than evening.
Saturday saw several workshops at the Bristol Bike Project looking at whether segregated cycle lines are indeed the way to go and what interventions actually reduce danger on the roads at source, bike games, and what we trying to do when we work with children and bikes. In the afternoon we headed of onto the roads in groups to explore and assess 3 different bike paths, looking at things like accessibility with trailers and signage. In the evening most of us cycled off to fireworks and frollicking on the Mound with a great view of the whole of the city spread out around us.
On Sunday, Im and I did a Bicycology workshop on how we communicate politics and messages in our work with bikes. We started with some spectrum lines, for example on whether people thought politics should be explicit or implicit in our work, then gave some examples from Bicycology’s experience. We split up into smaller discussion groups and then quickly rounded off back together for some feedback. It gave me some ideas for how to do it better in future, but it basically worked and certainly was a topic that people wanted to explore. Sunday also saw feedback from the Commonwheel meeting to set up an anarchosyndicalist bike project network, a workshop disabled cycling, and polo for those who could stay late enough.
In summary, a lovely weekend and an inspiring opportunity to get a sense of the diversity of emerging radical bike projects and network with both familiar and new bike folk.
At a time of year when it’s easy to get stressed out with w0rries, future plans, and the whole “where is my life going” thing, it’s nice to escape into a bit of pure creative fun with an angle grinder, welder and a selection of knacked bikes. As in January 2008, when I did my first bike build making a tall bike, I spent time over the last week putting together a rather odd bicycle. This one is a stretched-out bike. I’ve called it a longtail, though I’m not sure if that’s an accepetd term.
I got the idea last autumn. The Hastings bike group HUB got use of a great basement workshop in the town centre and we ran bike mechanics sessions with young people. We got donated a load of bikes. I was looking for a project and an crappy Halfords dual suspension MTB caught my eye. I thought about taking the rear frame section from that and slapping it on another mountain bike, making a long low bike that could be a load-carrier, like the xtracycle cargo bikes.
I made a mockup by just placing the bits of bike together to see how they looked. It all seemed to line up by eye without much work (as with earlier the tall bike). No precise technical drawings here! With a piece of frame tubing cut from another crappy mountain bike, things were taking shape. Seb came by for a couple of days and sorted out the bottom bracket of the rear frame. With a little bit of bending of the dropouts, the axle of this slotted in where the rear wheel would have been in the front bike frame. The new piece of tubing was bolted in at one end and welded to the frame at the other. I used the awful arc welder I found in the road years ago. This is a brutal beast, and if you are not very careful it will blow holes in bike tubing, which then you have to go back and fill. Very slow and messy, and not good for the strength of the final work, but good enough.
Choosing from a bag of donated spray paints, the new creation became a two tone blue, including the bars too! Components from here and there completed the job, and it had it’s first ride on Hastings seafront in the rain today.
Further work? Well, I guess a rack and/or a platform at the back. Perhaps a frame-mounted wheel-driven generator and a big stand that will raise the back wheel up off the ground and turn the machine into an instant pedal generator. Perhaps a built in sound, cinema and power system - an all-in-one energy bike?
Anyway, it served its immediate purpose – getting me through the dark days of early January without a nervous breakdown!
Okay it’s a bit late but I thought I should have a first go at blogging by adding little piece about Bicycology at this year’s Climate Camp at Kingsnorth in Kent.
We had our own space for the first time, with a small marquee for bike workshop, evening events etc. and a dome to retreat into when we needed our own space.
Power came from solar panels and a battery array in the dome, supplemented by pedal power. We did several pedal powered film shows, an spoken word event with our friend Ben, and music from Son of Pedals, our tandem-pulled soundsystem, which you can see in the photo below.
Son of Pedals soundsystem on the move
We helped provide a fair bit of bike load-carrying capacity, which proved really useful moving food (and beer) after the police decided to prevent vehicles accessing the site.
Brox load carrier leaves the cars behind
Kids on the Brox
We had a some pedal generators for children, including a pedal-powered gameboy.
That’s all for now.