It's been over three years since we built the original pianobike. From the rubble of its spirit we'll pedal forth on a new pianobike.
Pedal Powered Performance
A little over three years ago I have this idea; moving a piano with human power to access an unknown audience to perform to. I quickly found a couple different designs and working models of what I had imagined. It turns out that the design that I originally took inspiration from wasn't even a real piano, but a piano cabinet with speakers inside and a digital piano for the keyboard. Regardless of the authenticity of what I came across, it brought me to the next step in my process.
How do I design something that works for me? That's where Coulson comes in, my brother who welds art cars for burning man. We built the original pianobike in just a few days, taking inspiration from a bike cart he'd build that he calls the jenk cart. I wanted to share this opportunity to make money performing on the streets with my friend Corbin who I had heard perform Chopin so beautiful, I knew he'd be a great partner.
The original pianobike lived for a solid two years and performed on its deathbed during it's third and last year, which I think is pretty good for how abusive we were to it, and for how quickly and haphazardly we whipped it together.
Why a new piano?
The piano we used was about a hundred years old, and not of the highest quality to begin with. Then placing that piano on a trailer and storing it outside under a tarp during the hot summers and cold winters lead to its irreparable state. I know of another street piano performer who stores his piano in a garage and replaces his piano about every six months. We've done all that we can to keep ours running for as long as we can.
We realized that we needed a new piano by the end of Sundance 2012, but it wasn't until the end of Sundance this year (2013), where we ended up compromising so much by playing a broken down piano that we decided that we needed to move on from it and towards something better.
Why an entirely new PIANOBIKE?
It wasn't just the piano that has had problems. One year into the pianobike we had a joint collapse on the trailer. It was truly a design flaw. We modified it and that area of the frame has held strong. The front axle has slightly warped and bent over the years and there's just not much we can do about that.
When I first imagined a joining of a piano and a bike I didn't think of it as two pieces that connect. Rather I imagined it as one system, with three wheels, but we didn't have the time to design the exact pianobike that I wanted, so Coulson and I did what came in its simplest form and took inspiration from his previously designed and built creation, the jenk cart.
Our 12 main objectives with the new build are:
▪ Decreasing the weight
▪ More compact design
▪ Better gear reduction
▪ Higher quality materials
▪ Professional finishing
▪ Built-in push assistance option
▪ Efficient rollability
▪ Fold down adjustable piano bench
▪ Better brakes
▪ Piano & bike integration
▪ Three wheels
▪ Next level aesthetics
Achievement of these goals means more of us downtown.
Why are we asking for the amount that we are?
Mostly because we're not just asking you to help us with a new pianobike, but also to help us with a way to move it farther distances than we can reasonably pedal it ourselves. To accomplish this we are looking to purchase an enclosed 5' x 5' x 8' enclosed trailer which we can get for around $2,500. On top of that, we need a place to store it. We are looking to frame, pour cement and build a roof with shingles so we don't have to think about building another one for a long time.
Some of the parts that we will need to build the pianobike the way we want are expensive. The cost of materials alone may easily exceed $2,000. Professional finishing will cost a few hundred, and welding labor will also be costly.
Coulson built the original pianobike on pure love and interest (not with interest), this time I'd really like to pay him fairly for his time and creativity.
Our rewards are unique and thoughtful.I've spend months thinking about what I would want as a backer of this project. I've spent hours designing the shirt and the poster, I've thought about the layout of the shadowbox. We've already spent hours taking everything apart and we'll spend future hours putting all of these rewards together for you.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Integrating a piano and a bicycle is full of challenges, which is partially why the original pianobike took the shape that it did, we wanted something that would work built as quickly as possible. We avoided the design challenges that we now have in front of us to tackle.
To touch on a few really interesting and difficult challenges: How to keep the inside of the piano protected and free from dirt and grease while running a drive train through it. How to create stability with a wheelbase limited to dimensions that will allow us to fit through a standard doorway. How to create a structurally sound pianobike without compromising the goal of shedding the weight of the piece.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.