Picture of The Choprical Fish: a Human Powered Party Bike

Bikes and music are both amazing ways to experience community. Combining them takes the whole thing to a new level.

I've been creating bicycle sound systems since 2002. My friends and I use them for impromptu Halloween parades, Critical Mass rides, and smaller Cruiser Rides that I organize on

After building four different "Soul Cycle" party bikes, as I call them, I decided to go off the deep end and build my ultimate bike, to my highest, most exacting standards for visual details, sound quality, ease of use, features, and overall cosmic qualities. The Soul Cycle Chopper is now almost complete after 2-3 years of hard work. I'll be taking you through the overall process of making this bike at a fairly high level, and diving deeper into a few techniques that I think are cool or useful.
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Step 1: Concept phase.

Picture of Concept phase.
This is the inspiration stage, the brainstorm. Have fun. Pull out your notebook when you're on the subway and draw your ideas. Later on you'll have to deal with dimensions, components, and techniques, but at this point you're just drawing.

Fill up your notebook, identifying which are the key features, thinking of the overall visual look. One of the key features I was going for with the Choprical Fish was a laid-back cruiser / chopper look that was still capable of carrying a powerful sound system and climbing hills.
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just stopping by to give anyone who wants to do fiberglass fabrication a heads up on a new technology that's greener than fiberglass with less harsh chemicals... bamboo glass! it was apparently pioneered by a Greenlight Surfboard Supply.  i read about in a tech magazine mostly about building ROBOTS of all places! if i ever do a fabrication like the choprical fish, this is the way i'd go as the bamboo doesn't make you itch like fiberglass either.

without the stench or itching, i could picture tackling this kind of project at home now. i might be inclined to work with clay & molds though instead of messy styrofoam. i prefer working with materials that can be molded into shape than carving away at them like the foam i carved for casting aluminum in an art class. that squeaking noise foam makes is painful too.

if only i could get a custom fabricated bike frame now!
fossilfool (author)  zeroemission3 years ago
Do you know there translucent options for green glassin'?
Hey man nice instructable. Btw wouldn't adding so many 18650's in parrallel cause u to have about 16 amps and take out the 7812's? The max they r rated is for 1 amp so at that much power how did u manage?
ynneb4 years ago
3 years is a depressingly long time to build such a relatively small item.
Even though you didn't know much about the welding process, I would have liked to have known the type of welding process he used, the rods, the amps, the gas etc. You could have asked your welding mate.

Nice project and thanks for the blog.

Was there a reason you didn't just use the generator to recharge the battery?  No need for a capacitor, and you could generate "free" power by engaging the generator when coasting downhill.  The only electronics you should need to implement this would be a diode (rectifier) to isolate the generator from the battery.   Use a 25A 50V rated rectifier, which should be enough overkill to be safe.
smokin joe4 years ago
Have you measured the noise pollution level yet? Do you play music in transit or only at shows? I ask because everyone has different tastes in
dummy19775 years ago
Brilliant job on this instructable.

Party Bike v2?  :D
Since my mad crazy bike stereo-ing skills are neither mad nor crazy, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for inexpensive, yet cool looking speakers, I plan on using a sonic impact portable t amp (5065) as the amp, so obviously nothing too powerful... This is going to be by second stereo, and I plan on making it more complicated than some speakers hot wires to run off of a 9v battery with done LEDs tossed in...
dang it! i posted a WICKED long reply with a bunch of links to various images only to lose it the second i checked my first link in preview! arrrrrrrgh!

anyways, you can easily find all shapes & sizes of speakers if you google image search for cool looking, weird, & funky etc. speakers. i even saw some that were dragon shaped.

a really CHEAP way to get cool looking speakers if you're concerned about total sound quality is to go to a thrift store & buy some funky shaped "boombox shelf system" speakers & paint them.

there are a few really cool looking outdoor speakers too. i can't remember who made some really futuristic oval shaped ones i liked that were $400+

if you look into wakeboard & boat tower speakers, you'll also find a lot of really cool looking & wicked expensive chrome speakers too.

there's the info you need to re-research the info i lost & don't want to look up again.
OK... i just stumbled across THESE rather, um, "distinctive" looking speakers. if you want speakers that draw much attention, these are what you're looking for

anyone looking to network with other bike stereo people, stop by the bikeology website and show your system off, ask for tech help on building your own rig or just check out the owners' wicked loud beatrix system & other projects.

we'd like to make it THE hub for ALL street party cyclists & fans to hang out if more people would join the forum. we'd REALLY love it the soul cycle/choprical fish crew stopped by to show their rigs off & talk shop.

the hobby is really starting to grow. i bet most people will have heard of bike stereos within the next 5 years.
La Rotta5 years ago
The electrical and mechanical  work is awesome. But the face of the people having fun around your bike IS simply PRICELESS!!!!
fossilfool (author)  La Rotta5 years ago
 Many thanks for all your positive feedback. 
do you mind if i use a pic of choprical fish for the systems banner on my website?
fossilfool (author)  zeroemission6 years ago
I'm cool with images being used in a noncommercial application and within bike culture. It sounds like the systems banner might be a commercial use, but if it's only making your personal work experience nicer (like a screen saver) then I wouldn't mind. Thanks for the props.
nope, it's a non commercial site, but i try to make it look good as best i can with my limited hacking abilities.

if you want to, check it out here and you can see the current banner i'm using now, but choprical fish would look really great for the middle.
private eye7 years ago
I'm thinking about putting cold cathode lights on the bottom of my bike and somehow put diamond plated steel on the rims and rig them so they are like spinners anybody have any idea how to do that?
don't just cool cathode shorties... go to <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a> and have a look at that stuff!<br/>
fossilfool (author)  private eye7 years ago
Well as far as putting cold cathodes on your bike, have you checked out the <a rel="nofollow" href="">Down Low Glow</a>Down Low Glow ? And for spinners, how about <a rel="nofollow" href="">Deuces</a>Deuces? <br/>
I've thought of putting spinners on bike wheels before. I'm not sure how you'd do it, but your best bet might be to have the spinner disc inside the wheel, spinning around the hub. Then maybe have LED's attached to the fork and chain stays, unseen, but reflecting from the spokes and spinners. Make sense?
traewinter6 years ago
This is Fantastic! Art and function! Very inspiring.
JayV6 years ago
jamesbuilds6 years ago
It showed up at Yuri's night, bay area. Lots of pedaling happened.
Yup - I only just recognized it. I had posted a nice picture of the bike in action, in the More Yuri's Night Pics thread:

fossilfool (author)  Patrik6 years ago
The funny part was that I left the bike, with lights ON and music OFF, on battery power, while I roamed the event. A group of people came up, quickly figured out how to work the microphone, switches, and iPod, and had a raucous karaoke session. They all thought it was in Human Power mode and pedaled like crazy. But because there was no load on the human power system, they overheated the ultracapacitor and it failed.
Tester50006 years ago
You could get several bikes together, hook up a little wireless connection and have them all play the same sounds. Awesome piece of work!
that's what a dude in england i've chatted with in an audio forum does with his buddies. check out his sick megawatt trailer here

he says it's not as loud as a car system, but to people on the street, i bet it embarrases the daylights out of most wannabe boomin' cars especially there as he said the car audio scene isn't that big and most systems are just off the shelf bazookas etc.
so far, i don't see your bike here

if you aren't registered there, it would be a good place to show your ride off as i don't see any street party bikes there yet.

your bike has inspired me to do a custom of my own that will be much more comfortable than my stretch lowrider AND much louder and tighter looking than my mountain bike with a better center of gravity.

i don't know when i'll get it built, but the mock ups i did looked promising. thanks for the inspiration. a simple trailer for my lowrider just isn't that exciting, but the bike i'm planning will have a few tricks no-one has thought of yet as far as i've seen. i'll definately be stealing your dual kickstand idea, but with some changes. until it's built though, i'm keeping it TOP SECRET so no-one can beat me to the punch.
have you considereed LED hokeyspokes or El wire to light your bike up even more?

this bike is really making me want to do some fiberglass fabrication for phase 2 of my mountain bike instead of using off the shelf outdoor speakers.

custom fabrication & lighting are so much cooler.

BTW, if you're looking for more power for your system, blaupunkt has put out a 75wpc @ 4 ohms car stereo amp. that's what i'm looking to do next with my ride, or possibly build a full custom wagon for my lowrider
how much does it cost to build one ov these?
fossilfool (author)  rocknrollskwurl7 years ago
We're working on a new kit that will cost somewhere between 1 and 3 grand depending on the options. (Probably). If you do it yourself, you'll spend quite a bit on beginner's errors. But generally the audio components will cost around 400+.
fossilfool (author)  rocknrollskwurl7 years ago
OK, unlike NemomaticNemomatic, I wasn't able to use found materials to make this bike. When you're trying to hit an engineering diagram exactly, you need to start with plenty of clean materials. For example, bending the tubing and executing the fiberglass enclosure. I haven't done the math yet, but the bike will definitely have over $3000 in materials. Of course that's not including the value of my time.
ewilhelm7 years ago
Looks like you're local. Send me or canida a private message to get on our Show and Tell/party list!
dan ewilhelm7 years ago
i met the guy in photo of step 11 at squid salon a year ago, he works at extracycle i think. not sure if that is fossilfool or not?
fossilfool (author)  dan7 years ago
His name is Wen, and he doesn't work for Xtracycle as far as I know. But he's good with fiberglass.
I've ridden with Fossil Fool a couple times and I think he's in Oakland now. Riding with a mini-fleet of his earlier soul cycles was several flavors of awesome. This bike was at Maker Faire, too.
I like the ride! Where did you get disk brakes for the front?
fossilfool (author)  xfirexstarzx7 years ago
They're Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. I bought them at a swap meet. Highly recommended.
VERY DISTINCTIVE custom! EVENTUALLY I'll have a bike/system combo that clean.
Pambo7 years ago
THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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