Portlanders get amped up with bike sound systems

Bowie v. Prince Ride-14
Spotted this sound system at the
Bowie vs. Prince ride.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I can remember a time when bike-mounted sound systems were a novelty. When someone rolled up with tunes blaring they’d be met with oohs, aaahs, and a crowd of smiling onlookers. The smiles are still there, but the novelty has warn off a bit as bike sound systems have become much more common.

While riding around Sunday Parkways and all the parades and mobile dance party rides of Pedalpalooza it was obvious that, although they’ve become more popular, the systems are far from standardized. There are about as many set-ups as there are people using them and they range in sophistication and size.

Brian Smith’s bike at the recent
Prom/Dropout Bike Club ride.

East Portland resident Brian Smith has been rolling with a sound system for four years and he’s helped many people set up systems of their own. Smith says the trick is balancing how loud you want it to be with the weight. I asked him to describe his set-ups:

“My first one was 300 watts into two 6×9’s and a 12″ sub, and a 80Ahr big marine battery. I currently just have 400 watt amp into 2 6×9’s and 10 sub, with extra 100 watt channel wiring for adding on if I feel like hauling it.”

Smith has taken bike sound systems to a new level with a mobile rock show he puts together with his friends from Dropout Bike Club called the “Monsters of Rock by Bike.” Smith gets together with musicians, links up several bike-mounted sound systems, and the result is a mobile, bike-powered, live music dance party. He’s also been known to set up an FM transmitter and is still trying to perfect the mobile pirate radio station concept.

I went through my photo archives and found a few examples of local set ups. Check them out and start planning your own. Once you’ve added tunes to your ride, your life will never be the same!

The handiwork of Michael Jones,
as seen at Sunday Parkways North Portland.
Deserves a closer look.
Another one on a Larry v. Harry Bullitt cargo bike.
Nick Sande at Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways.
Tour de Fat bike parade.
A low-tech version.

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