Introduction: Bike Stereo

Picture of Bike Stereo

Build a sound system for your bicycle and entertain your friends. The speakers are designed to fit within the frame and can be easily removed. My system is powered by a battery operated mobile T-amp and an ipod. The total cost of the system is well under $100 and can be completed in a few hours.

Step 1: Required Tools

Picture of Required Tools

Here are some of the things you will need to get started.
1. A good pair of tin snips.
2. Velcro Tape.
3. Pliers
4. Wrench
5. Sharpie
6. Spray Paint (optional)

NOT PICTURED but still important:
7. Speaker wire
8. 1/8" line to go from the source to the amp. (mono is probably better than stereo since the speakers face opposite directions)
9. A sturdy basket. I got mine at IKEA in the bathroom section for 4 bucks.
10. A drill and a bit that will go through aluminum duct.
11. An old leather belt.

Step 2: Other Required Items - Aluminum Duct

Picture of Other Required Items - Aluminum Duct

Check your local hardware store for sheets of HVAC aluminum ducting. My local store was out so I went to Home Despot. They had several shapes and sizes. The big sheet was 7 bucks but I managed to cut two pieces out of a smalled pre-bent sheet for under 4 bucks. If you measure your bike frame first and bring the stencil you cut out you can make sure you get the right size.

Step 3: Other Required Items - Amp

Picture of Other Required Items - Amp

Sonic Impact Portable T-Amp Digital Audio Amplifier. This is a battery powered 15 watts per channel stereo amplifier. It costs about $30 new. It runs on 8 AA batteries. I'm using POWEREX 2300 mAh NiMH rechargeables from Thomas-Distributing. They cost a bit more but you only have to buy them once and they last forever. I've run the amp at full blast for 3-4 hours without running dry.

Step 4: Other Required Items - Speakers

Picture of Other Required Items - Speakers

Sonic Impact Stick-On Speaker SoundPad Pair. These run about $20. These speakers stick to any flat surface turning it into a speaker. In this project I make two flat planes out of aluminum that fit inside my bike frame. The sound pads are concealed between them and the sound actually comes out of the aluminum!

Step 5: Other Required Items - Ipod

Picture of Other Required Items - Ipod

You will need a source for your sounds. I use and iPod wraped in an iSkin for protection. You can't be too careful these days. The best part about the iSkin is the clip on the back which I use to secure it to my $4 IKEA basket. You could easily substitute another mp3 player, a walkman, or discman. If you figure out how to put a turntable or an 8-track player on a bike, let me know.

Step 6: Other Required Items - Bicycle

Picture of Other Required Items - Bicycle

You will need a bike. This is my '68 Schwinn Racer, made right here in Chicago.

Step 7: Measure the Frame of Your Bike

Picture of Measure the Frame of Your Bike

Using a large section of cardboard, posterboard, or paper outline the inside of your bike frame. This will help you cut your aluminum speakers to the proper size.

Step 8: Measure the Frame of Your Bike

Picture of Measure the Frame of Your Bike

Cut out your stencil. Now you have the shape of your frame so you can chop your aluminum down to size.

Step 9: Measure and Cut the Aluminum

Picture of Measure and Cut the Aluminum

Use your stencil to cut two speaker planes out of your aluminum sheet. Don't worry about the excess aluminum. It will be bent in the next step.

Step 10: Bend the Aluminum to Fit Inside Your Frame

Picture of Bend the Aluminum to Fit Inside Your Frame

Make sure you make each plane slightly smaller than the area of your frame so it doesn't rattle and scratch your paint.

Step 11: Attach the Straps

Picture of Attach the Straps

Cut two even parts from the belt. About 10 inches each should do. Drill 2 holes through the aluminum planes, one towards the front and one towards the rear. Use bolts with locking nuts to hold the belts in place. Hang the planes over your crossbar like saddlebags.

Step 12: Attach the Speakers and Velcro Tape

Picture of Attach the Speakers and Velcro Tape

Stick the speakers on the inside of the panels. Place one higher and one lower so they will not hit each other when they are hanging back to back. I also added a strip of velcro tape around the bottom bar on my bike frame to stabilize the speakers so they would not swing side to side and hit the pedals.

Step 13: Add RCA Jacks to the Speakers

Picture of Add RCA Jacks to the Speakers

I spliced some female RCA jacks onto my speaker wire so I could easily remove my amp from my bike.

Step 14: Trim the RCA Cables on the T-amp

Picture of Trim the RCA Cables on the T-amp

My Sonic T-amp came with long male RCA speaker cables. I trimed them to about 6 inches so they wouldn't get caught in the front wheel.

Step 15: Secure the T-Amp in the Basket

Picture of Secure the T-Amp in the Basket

On my first test run, I just set the T-Amp in the basket. I hit a pothole and almost lost it. Luckily, I caught it due to my incredible Nintendo reflexes. Since then I used twist ties to fasten the battery cover to the basket. The T-Amp just clips onto the battery cover and I feed the speaker cable through the bottom of the basket.

Step 16: Attach the Basket to the Handlebars

Picture of Attach the Basket to the Handlebars

I stick one side of the velcro tape around the handle bars. The other side wraps around the basket and attaches to the bars holding the basket in place. Rope or a strap also works pretty well. The velcro tape can be easily removed and replaced when you want to take your basket with you. I've found that the velcro sometimes needs adjusting on a long bike ride.

Step 17: Connect the Wires and Test

Picture of Connect the Wires and Test

Plug the 1/8" line into the iPod and the line in on the amp. Plug the speakers into the amp. Slowly crank up the ipod and the amp. If either source is too loud you might get a tinny rattle. The bass isn't great but it sure beats whistling. If one or both of your speakers isn't working, try reversing the red and black wires on the speaker cables. You may have spliced them backwards.

Step 18: Give It a Paint Job (optional)

Picture of Give It a Paint Job (optional)

I painted mine to match my frame. I'm working on a stencil and logo to spice it up a bit more. Any suggestions?

Comments

Fantastic Awesome (author)2017-05-30

I just used a Bluetooth speaker, a caribeener, and the straps from my bike rack. Just finished today!

ElijahB3 (author)2015-07-09

i made it but the speakers blew out after about a week

BikeBeatz (author)2014-05-20

Awesome setup!

-Jimmy from BikeBeatz

susann (author)2012-12-17

This is so awesome! I had a stereo installed on my Vespa, which is very cool, but this is a must have! Thank you!

susann (author)susann2012-12-17

It is going to be tricky, because I have a female Schwinn! But I'll study where it's going!

kksimas (author)2012-07-16

What if your frame doesnt have a very big opening? Cuz I ride a BMX bike and its not a very big space.

gate (author)kksimas2012-07-16

Time to get a bigger bike. :-)

kksimas (author)gate2012-07-20

Haha thanks!

ggardner7 (author)2011-10-17

you could put a pic of apple on it in memory of Steve Jobs

NT86 (author)2008-07-29

excellent design. for more bass i would suggest a rear rack and a small wooden or plastic cabinet with more standard size speakers, such as those in boom boxes. once again i thought the aluminum was pretty cool how it hides the speakers.

_Scratch_ (author)NT862011-09-27

Or might I suggest a bass shaker for ~40$ with its own circle of aluminum on a rear rack. I would assume it would work as a sub, albeit a lower quality one.

NT86 (author)_Scratch_2011-09-27

That would be cool, aluminum might resonate and sound hollow or tinny though. For mine I ended up taking an altec lansing system from a computer putting the desk speakers and controls in the sub box with the sub and mounted that to a rack and hooked up a 12 volt battery. Works nicely with a little bit of rattle from the low quality sub but overall a good hit at the beach

64bitgenius (author)2011-07-16

i thought this would be a more speaker, less bike idea...i kinda like the idea of riding a speaker.

dermbrian (author)2011-03-24

I have a couple of T-Amps, and a pair of the original Sonic Impact fold-open 'cardboard speakers' that have those Sonic Impact transducers inside of them.

I may play around with those and make a speaker system like yours. Instead of aluminum, I'd likely try that weather-resistant material that real estate signs are made of. Kind of a plasticized or plastic cardboard. That should reduce the weight substantially, and it may be a better medium for the transducers. The Sonic Impact cardboard speakers are something similar to that stuff. I'd use hollow posts at the corners as spacers between the panels.

One thing I like about your design is that it lends itself to decoration. The chalkboard paint suggestion was good, but that's good real estate for bumper stickers or any kind of 'statement'. eg: Google 'Peak Oil' People!

Of course, I'd use a suet feeder for my electronics basket, a la my own bicycle stereo design here....
https://www.instructables.com/id/Bicycle-stereo-dashboard/

dermbrian (author)dermbrian2011-03-24

Shoot. Forgot about my two water bottles in that area that make this an unlikely mod to my bike. I guess I'll stick to powered speakers.

CydeSwype (author)2010-05-29

 Amazon has Dayton ones for $16 a pair and some other brand for only $6 a pair!  Not sure if they are of a poorer quality but they seem highly rated.  Think the $6 may be a temporary sale.

sharlston (author)2009-08-08

cool ible im getting a bmx in a couple of days! :)

zeroemission (author)sharlston2009-12-17

if anyone is looking for a forum dedicated to bicycle stereos, stop by the bikeology website's forum. the owner of the site has built some pretty ambitious & LOUD trailer systems, but we'd like ANYONE with any kind of bike system or even just interested in them to visit.

as many different systems as people have built, it would be nice to have a community that shares info & ideas as well as a common place for everyone to show their rides off & just hang out.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-07-24

When you feel the need, change the price of the T-amp, and add it to my Group.

tannerr52 (author)2009-06-16

Nice 'ible! I liked how the basket is JUST big enough for your amp and ipod. I think you could be able to make the aluminum panels smaller, there is a lot of extra room in there.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-10-01

i just put something a little like this together, but instead of eight batteries my amp takes four and runs for about the same time.

hotcharlie (author)2008-09-19

Good lookin', man! I don't know how I missed this Instructable, but...
Check out my '68 Collegiate:
Right Here
Where'd you get the whitewalls?

troyka (author)2008-08-10

Nice work... I would use the space on the panel to advertise my youth club or website, or maybe paint it with chalk board paint... I got a marshal 9v mini practice amp from ebay (£15) and plugged my Men sleek into that for maple music.. only mono though..

NT86 (author)2008-07-29

how many ohms?

Scotlandman27 (author)2008-07-29

hey do you know if the soundpads would work through .1 inches thick acrylic/plexiglass? because that's what i wanted to use. i dont want to order the stuff and then have to use a new frame...

Scotlandman27 (author)2008-07-13

now how did you manage to get your hands on a Sonic Impact Portable T-Amp Digital Audio Amplifier for 30 dollars new? i can only find it for 115-160 bucks, new or not.

gate (author)Scotlandman272008-07-13

Hmmm, it looks like that amp has been discontinued. I got mine from Thinkgeek.com. They only have the 2nd generation $69 amp now. It doesn't look as good as the first one either. Maybe ebay?

conrad2468 (author)2008-07-07

great "officer someone just stole my bike stereo" "what are you smoking?!"

caca1822 (author)2008-06-30

i love this instructable. ive been wanting to do this, one problem.. im not sure if this will work on a girls bike. ill have to see if the speakers fit.

gate (author)caca18222008-07-01

I built an second (louder) version of the stereo that might work better for you. I attached some old speakers I found in the alley to the aluminum struts that hold up the rear fender. It isn't nearly as pretty but the sound is better. I'll try to post some pics soon.

someguy1234 (author)2008-05-20

cant beleive u trashed ur racer to build that......

gate (author)someguy12342008-05-20

It's entirely attached with velcro. No modifications were made to the bike. In fact it didn't even scratch the paint.

someguy1234 (author)gate2008-05-21

thank the god of bicycles!

The Insomniac (author)2008-05-21

Sweet instructable. I had been considering building one of these for a while, but had never gotten started/had no clue where to begin. When i finally get around to maknig this, I will be sure to credit it you +1 comment.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-05-14

i want a T-amp like that but cant find the old ones, just the new $80 ones, way too expensive, and dont want to try ebay

greatscotmagic (author)2008-04-25

This is an Instructable on building a solar powered boom box. The project uses a Sonic Impact amp and indoor outdoor speakers.

You could build it and just put that into the basket.

Here is the link"
https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Solar-Boombox/

heyzuphowsitgoin (author)2008-04-23

haha thats pretty fancy... i just took a guitar amp apart and took the speaker, duct-taped it to the bike, and duct-taped and old mp3 player to the handle bars and connected them with a speaker wire... it was pretty loud too!

zeroemission (author)2008-03-10

don't forget doubling speakers too. every time you double the number of speakers you're using, you get 3 free decibles which is the same as doubling your amplifier power. it probably wouldn't work the same if you doubled the number of panel drivers though as you wouldn't be doubling surface area too. as to "other speakers", what do you mean? clayfig, other panel drivers, or speakers in general? generally any speaker would work with a sonic impact unless it's some crazy 2 ohm or 16 ohm unit. actually 16 ohms would work, but it would seriously cut the amps output. are you looking for specs for the sonic impact drivers?

i made a similar thig with a razor scooter, it was cool :)

Clayfig (author)2007-10-10

Hey I want to create a speaker back pack using the same materials but with different speakers does anyone know the specifications of the speakers that I can use with the amp?

Phoghat (author)Clayfig2008-03-10

You can use 4 or 8 ohm speakers (try to get High Efficiency if you can) with 8 Ohm it's ~ 6 watts/channel and 4 ohm gives you ~ 15 w/channel

zeroemission (author)2008-03-08

a few things that might be robbing efficiency and sound quality are material mass and a stiff suspension as mentioned, but your driver size would be limiting also. you might consider using large sheets of synthetic cardboard with some sort of suspension as jaime said. the material is stiff yet extremely light which might help you get better sound and deeper bass with a larger surface area. as light as the material is, you could make some sort of temporary mounts using a luggage rack behind your seat. then you could install them when you want them or pull them when you don't. one other issue could be backwave cancellations. an unenclosed driver's soundwaves cancel each other out especially in the bass. even if you're running two drivers in opposite phase, each of their backwaves might be dampening the motion of the opposing driver somewhat. i'll have to get back to everyone as to just how loud and deep those pyle speakers go when i get those next. i think that's probably the cheapest, lightest and loudest bike setup you can get using sonic impact amps.

askvictor (author)2007-12-03

I think the speakers would work better attached to a stiffer material. Wood is probably the cheapest and easiest (though heavy);

jaime9999 (author)askvictor2008-03-06

MATERIAL-- Wood is terrible. Have you ever seen a speaker cone made of wood? Too heavy, and absorbs vibration. The material choice has already been made by 100 years of speaker design-- you want the stiffest, yet lightest material. Speakers generally use paper rolled into a cone which is quite stiff when suspended properly. You want the entire cone/diaphragm/board vibrating in unison to the music signal, so that the air pressure waves generated are uniform and match the music signal exactly, without additional (non-music signal) vibrations or resonances created. Some speakers use thin metal boards like this. Electrostatic speakers use a thin polyester membrane film hung in space. Some hi-tech speakers use a flat diaphragm made out of flat honeycomb of aluminum foil material, which is very stiff and lightweight; similar to what you've done here. Another very stiff yet lighweight material is foamcore. But I believe the authors choice of sheet metal aluminum is probably the best in this application. SUSPENSION-- Note that an ordinary speaker suspends its cone in space with a flexible gasket-like construction at the outer ring and also at the apex of the cone. The trick is how to suspend a maximally rigid diaphragm/cone/board in space whilst not impeding its movement (vibration) induced by the driver. This design holds the sheet metal at 3 corners, leaving the sheet no other option but to flex (distort) to accomodate the vibration induced by the driver, which causes the resulting distorted vibration (sound). Fancy hifi speakers use varieties of foam, rubbers, fabric, and elastomer materials for their suspension components; if you could get a stiffer diaphragm/cone/board material and suspend it with such a materials, you might get better quality. Or, just configure the suspension system to be as flexible as possible-- instead of leather and velcro, perhaps rubber inner-tube material, hung vertically (want no tension horizontally). Of course, the Sound Pad drivers are a big source of bad sound-- they work not by vibrating a diaphragm/cone/board suspended in space as ordinary speakers do, but rather by vibrating the thing they're attached to (a wall, or this sheet metal) with respect to their own mass. You could make them work better by gluing a heavy mass to their backside to give them more mass to push against (sort of like how you can hammer a nail on a board in the air only if you hold a heavy rock or brick behind the board). Are you sure the two Sound Pads in here aren't touching each other, and aren't touching the opposite diaphragm?

zeroemission (author)2008-02-28

It's too bad that I don't think you can get the $30 Sonic Impacts anymore. They've been replaced by $50 units that include A/C powering, but they look cooler with their blue illuminated volume controls.

For anyone interested in an easy "plug & play" system, check my webpage out atmy street party bicycle

It uses off the shelf gear. CD player, Sonic Impact amp, saddle bags, & a pair of Mission M71s I had laying around. It sounds pretty loud as long as I'm not outside a nightclub.

I'm going to upgrade with more lighter & more efficient Pyle outdoor speakers and a Blaupunkt 85wpc class D car amp driven by a motorcycle battery over the crank.

The current system is too top heavy and can't do bass with much authority at volume.

wishes (author)2008-01-08

hmm i had the idea to do this, but yours sure seems like a long and involved process lol. I was just gonna grab some logitech mm50 rechargeable ipod dock speakers and mount them under the handlebars then cover them in neoprene for water protection. How does yours sound? decent clarity and bass ? Also, does the wind catch you side on at all ? or do you only do beach front and park style (sunny day, slow speed) stuff?

gate (author)wishes2008-01-09

Unfortunately the bass is pretty tinny. It is definitely a slow speed bike. The stereo adds about 6-8 lbs too. I'm thinking of using a tube suspended in the frame for my next version. I'm hoping for better bass and more sound projections. Maybe this summer...

jplkeekif (author)gate2008-01-21

The tube sounds like a really good idea, reminds me of the bazooka enclosures for subwoofers, it should also make it easier to clean up the wiring and depending on the type/size of the amp you use you might even be able to conceal that as well.

Gridnack572 (author)2007-11-21

what about water-proofing in case of a sudden rain storm. I'm pretty sure we've all been caught out in the rain at least once on a leisurely bike ride. and with a "beach cruiser" like that you can't get much more leisurely plus ipods are pretty expensive-still looks cool

feelgoodlost (author)2006-07-05

did you experiment w/ different sized sheets of material and types of material, before you settled on aluminum? Im curious about how those two things would affect sound quality. If all goes well I'll be doing something similar to this to an old schwinn traveler before the end of the summer.

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