You think riding a fixed gear is weird– try riding this thing. Though it looks unwieldly, it’s got a wonderful byproduct– soap. Yep, it makes totally vegan, completely natural, soap. Just Soap, they call it.
Clearly the bicycle provides an easily accessible option to creating energy. I’ve seen it used to make juice and other food items (there used to be a place in Eugene that processed raw crackers with a human-powered food processor), and I’ve written before about bicycle-powered blenders and mobile audio systems. I once read about a rave that happened in a Vancouver, B.C., park that was entirely run by pedal power. Another time, I was at the Oregon Country Fair and rode a stationary bike next to the stage which in turn powered the amplifiers that the performance was coming through on.
But there are more ambitious projects out there that use the bicycle as a basis. Consider the text message printing bike or the Guatemalan NGO that is making everything from bicycle powered generators and water pumps to grain grinders and coffee de-pulpers, for example.
The most ambitious projects I have seen, though, are the various rides (like the pedal-powered ferris wheel pictured here) at the roaming freak bike festival Cyclecide and the very cool mobile WiFi hotspot known as MagicBike.
These sorts of projects are really exciting. To do practical things with a machine that is so fun to begin with, it makes me want to get out the welder right now. What would you make bike-powered if you could?