Introduction: Party Bike

About: Former long time designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

Winter always throws me into full on craft mode, so I got a head start on the summer to bring my bike from normal cruiser to ultimate party bike! I wanted to avoid having a trailer or additional supports for speakers, so this mod is focused on things that can be easily added to an existing bike structure. This means: music, beverage dispensing basket, bubbles, clown horn, disco ball, and of course blinky lights.

Let's get started!

Step 1: What You Need

This is not an exhaustive photo of what I used, but covers some of the main pieces. Here's a more complete list:

- a sweet ride

- led strip - any strip will do but this is an inexpensive non-addressable strip

- basic soldering supplies: 4 colors of wire, solder, soldering iron, flux, hot glue, snips, multimeter. I ordered long pieces of 3/16" heat-shrink for the wire bundles and shorter 3/8" pieces for the connections from mcmastercarr. I also used some 4pin JST connectors for easy removal of my bike basket.

- small lead acid battery, or other larger 12v battery that can power things for a while.

- neoprene and zipper for battery cover

- bike basket, I chose wicker for a classic cruiser look and decorated with fake flowers

- boxed wine and giant googlie eyes if desired (see step 11)

- boombox

- waterproof case for phone/media player (to keep it safe from dust/rain, and for easy attachment to boombox)

- bubble gun

- clown horn

- tiny disco ball and flashlight

Step 2: Design

First I laid out the design for the LED strip. I really liked the look of the leds on dan's instructable, and opted to do something similar with the lights on the underside of the fenders and bars to create a nice glow on the ground while riding. I also wanted to have some light on the basket, so this meant integrating some connections that would allow me to remove the basket for storage and transport. One last consideration was where to put the battery. Dan put his in a ready made bike pouch that lived below his seat. This is a great option, but I had other things I wanted to put there (music!), and had a lead acid battery lying around which happened to fit perfectly right at the base of the two bars of my bike.

This is my burning man bike, so I wanted all the connections to be well protected in hot glue and heat shrink for durability. This meant measuring and making all the connections before gluing everything down to the bike. Although I measured carefully, I still ended up needing to make some adjustments along the way. I'll go in to those in more detail later so perhaps you can get the measurements right the first time! Making this diagram and writing out the measurements of each section was very useful once I started soldering everything together, so I've included the file in case you want to modify it for your own bike mod.

Step 3: Prep the Frame

After figuring out my plan, I got the frame ready for gluing by taking off the wheels and doing a quick clean of the frame. The design I came up with required one hole on the front fender for two wire bundles to pass through, so I made a pill shaped hole that would be large enough to accommodate the connecters on either end of the LED strip (important, otherwise you will not be able to thread it through!). I also laid down a few strips of tape for the led strip to pass over on the underside of the bike where the fender feeds out to the bottom bar. I would recommend mounting tape over the fabric tape I used for additional stickiness and padding, I just didn't have any handy.

Step 4: Solder Solder Solder!

Now I prepped the LED strip. I'm a novice at electronics, and this was a great beginner project.

Using the diagram I created as a guide, I made wire sections for each of the breaks in my led strip by passing the 4 wires through 3/16" heat-shrink, with two short 3/8" heat-shrink sections to protect the connections themselves on either end (first photo). The LED strip has pathways for the main power and R, G, and B channels, so I used wire of those colors plus white to keep things easy.

Once these were prepped I made a cut at the closest cut line along the strip to my desired length for the first section. This LED strip works in both directions, so it didn't matter which end I worked from as they both plugged into the IR controller. I carefully peeled back the weatherproofing, and cut it off to expose the soldering pads.

I fluxed the soldering pads and exposed wire ends, and tinned them with solder. Leaving a nice bubble of solder on the pads of the LED strip to made attaching the wires to them easier.

Next I soldered things together, being careful to have good contact, and keeping things clear between each connection. To test the connections, I used a multimeter and tested the ends of the wires coming out the other side of the heat shrink to the pins on the IR connector for connection. Once I was satisfied that each of them was connected only to each other, I hot glued the connection and used a heat gun to tighten the heat-shrink over everything.

Here's more about using a multimeter.

I continued this way along the strip, testing each connection as I went. Because I hadn't yet received my JST connectors for disconnecting my basket, I left those for later, which worked out well since it gave me an opportunity to adjust the length of the wires at that location once everything else was glued down.

Last - the moment of truth! I plugged it into the wall, and everything worked. Success!

Step 5: Check It Out

Next I did a rough layout of the strip to see how well my measurements turned out. I had some important learnings at this stage of things I hadn't anticipated, being a newbie to this stuff. I had made my measurements on the underside of the fenders assuming that the connections would be relatively flexible, but after all that glue and heat-shrink they are actually quite rigid. As a result, I couldn't get things to line up well underneath the front fender without trimming down that section of LED strip, so I had to shorten that length of LEDs and make a new connection to fit that section well. Otherwise things seemed to line up OK, so I was ready to make it permanent.

Step 6: Glue It Down

Once I fixed the issue found in the last step, I glued everything down using a mix of contact cement for the strip and epoxy for the wire bundles. The most difficult part was gluing the underside of the front fender. To make the ends lay flat I used a generous amount of epoxy and clamped them down. Next I reinforced the section of wire that passed through the hole to avoid the wires getting cut by the sharp metal, and glued down the remainder of the wire bundle.

As I was still waiting on integrating the basket, I left that section of LEDs loose for the time being.

Step 7: Prepare the Battery

As the LEDs are a strip designed to plug into the wall, I had to convert them to run off a 12V battery. The lead acid battery I had already fit perfectly in this area at the base of the bike, so I only needed to run the wires a close distance to from the battery to the IR controller. To make this connections I used a barrel connector and two stranded wires that ran to the battery.

I planned to use the barrel connector as my on/off switch, so once the battery was linked up I arranged the battery, IR controller and connections in a way that would allow easy access before making the bag that would house these components.

Step 8: Protect the Battery

After all my hard work protecting the other wire connections, I needed to provide the same protection for the battery components (and for aesthetics as well :). This turned out to be one of the more difficult steps, as I needed to be able to remove the battery and components, as well as also allow easy access to the connections inside the bag for ease of turning on and off. You can see in my photos that my initial design had the zipper arranged in a way that allowed easy removal of the battery, but not easy access to the components. To fix this I had to move a section of the zipper in order to gain that access at the front. In the end the zipper does a zig zag, running first along the top and right side, then from the front to the back to allow for full remove of the battery.

Once finished I secured the bag with some zip ties, which run through tiny slits in the top and bottom of the bag.

Step 9: Fiber Optic Tassels!

A fun but failed idea. I had some old components salvaged from a spokelit bike light that are comprised of a color changing led on a circular board, with a coin cell battery underneath. I had been looking for a way to reuse them when I realized they are the perfect size for the end of my handlebars. With some leftover trimmings from my fiber optic dress I made some bundles with epoxy, and then epoxied the whole thing directly to the led. While I thought the weak point would the bundle itself (shedding fibers) or the connection to the LED, I learned that the weakest point was actually the connection between the led and the board. Sadly both broke off at the base after some light use. Unfortunate, but a nice learning that the epoxy was strong enough to hold the fiber optic strands together securely. With some additional support for the led itself these would have been great.

Step 10: Integrate JST Connectors

In order to remove my basket for storage and transport, I needed some connectors in the mix. This was great because I had messed up yet again on my measurements (didn't integrate the right amount of slack for turning handlebars back and forth), so this was an easy way to make up for those discrepancies.

I secured the section of LEDs around the basket, and snipped the wire bundles a few inches from the strip on either side. With the basket in place on my bike, I could accurately gauge how long to make the new connections. Because the JSTs had different colors then the 4 I was using, I made extra sure I was connecting like with like and that both connectors were oriented the same way in relation to the four colors, to avoid the chance of short-circuiting the strip.

Be sure when soldering to have little pieces of heat-shrink ready on each wire (see last photo) before you solder to the connector, so that the four lines can be protected from each other.

Step 11: Party Basket!

What makes a party other than blinky lights? Tasty beverages of course! As an easy way to dispense liquid I bought some Franzia boxed wine as it has the nozzle ready to go, and can actually be reused rather easily for those with more discerning alcoholic taste.

To integrate this into my basket, I first trimmed the wicker away for the nozzle, then hot glued back into place the pieces which were dislodged in this process (that's why there is tape in the third photo). Add some googlie eyes if you like for some instant anthropomorphic appeal, and you're ready to serve!

One thing I will warn is that a whole box of wine is very heavy, heavier than a wicker basket is meant to carry. I emptied half of it out, and also reinforced the straps with another piece of leather for added support.

Step 12: Party Music!

Another party essential - music! The handy carrying strap made it easy to attach this boombox directly to my bike seat, and then I simply taped the waterproof phone case to the back of it for protection of my tunes.

Step 13: Party Bubbles!

What else makes a party? Bubbles! Well, it might not be an integral part of all parties, but you can't deny that everyone loves bubbles :) I will likely omit this part for burning man, but it's great for local bike parties.

Step 14: Party Horn!

You've got to be safe, right? Just in case that one oblivious person can't tell you are coming with all the blaring music and blinky lights, you've got to have a clown horn just in case.

Step 15: Disco Party!

My last addition to the bike was a tiny disco ball I was given. I hung it from the front of the seat, and attached a tiny flashlight to the seat post pointing up at it, which resulted in some nice light distribution on the ground.

Complete the look with a disco helmet, and you're ready to go!

Step 16: Get Yer Party On!

Now get out there and ride your bike! In many cities there are regular bike parties. I took mine out for one and it was lots of fun. Gather some friends and enjoy your sweet new ride!