Tag Archives: critical mass

Out and Loud: Bicycle Soundsystems – Ode to Pedals

11 Nov

Pedals the sound system…perhaps you’ve seen it at Critical Mass or at a protest. It was built originally for the 2005 G8 protest ride from London to Scotland! Since then it has appeared at innumerable protests/bike rides/protest bikerides, most likely in part due to both it’s impressive sound and durability: “Pedals set the standard for mobile sound with its incredible volume, sound quality, and low power consumption thanks to features like a 6th order bandpass bass enclosure, class D amplifiers, and a highly efficient horn speaker and tweeters” (Bicycology).

How to DIY your own?


History of Pedals!

Here are also some photos and links to check out of mighty Pedals through the years!


Pedals and Son of Pedals around 2008. Both made by bicycology.

At the G20 Climate Ride in 2009. Credit: Ian Gregory


From the 100 Days to Palestine Critical Mass in 2011

From the 100 Days to Palestine Critical Mass in 2011


http://www.zenatode.org.uk/ian/activism/pedals.html (up to 2010)

In two years alone, Pedals was used in:



Ain’t no border high enough

30 Jul

Critical Mass to Calais : Bikes Beyond Borders!
August 29-31st, 2015

>>Got a bike and want to pass it on? This is an attempt to get bikes and other provisions to refugees in Calais.<<

If you have, or can source a bike to donate, then please, please join us this August bank holiday weekend on our little trip cycling across the channel: Critical Mass to Calais, taking bikes beyond borders!

We will release more details nearer the time, but you can get involved in any way shape or form (there are many, many ways) just scroll down and pick from the options below.


The vast majority of people living in the camps have left their home countries for reasons of war and persecution in search of safety and security. Now, having been forcibly evicted from autonomous camps in Calais to a new ‘designated area’, 7km from the town centre, there are in the region of 2000 people, including women and unaccompanied minors, living in conditions of poor sanitation with minimal access to support and services.

Most cyclists can relate to the sense of freedom, mobility and self sustainability afforded by the bicycle. For people living in the camps, bicycles are an invaluable asset, improving quality of life by increasing access to basic essentials like the local shop and support and advice services, currently over an hour’s walk away. Some organisations have already began taking bikes to the camps, but many more are needed.
Here is how to JOIN IN THE FUN:

1) THE BIG ONE – 2 Day Cycle from London to Calais leaving Saturday 29th August with overnight camp fun to break the journey – Location and route details TBA nearer the time.

2) 1 Day Cycle from London to Calais leaving Sunday 30th August – For the faster riders or those with time constraints.

3) 1 Day Cycle, starting at overnight camp (location TBA) to Calais – For those who want a shorter ride.

4) Just get to Calais! You may want to donate a bike and visit Calais with us, but perhaps don’t fancy the ride or don’t live in London or the UK…so just find the best way to meet – perhaps even starting a critical mass from your own city!

Don’t have a bike you are able to donate?

1) Come along for the ride! Donating is not mandatory at all, the more the merrier, so join in the fun at any of the stages listed above!

2) Talk to your pals! Do you know there are 7 times more unused bikes in garages and gardens in London than out on the roads, so speak to your friends or neighbours to get your hands on one!

3) Get a second hand bike from your local bike shop or one of our recommended providers – details to follow.

Don’t fancy the ride?

1) Get your bike to Calais in any way you can! We know that riding isn’t for everyone, the main objective is to get as many bikes to the camps as possible, so if you have another way of getting yours there, then find us at either Dover or Calais on the Sunday.

2) Join us as a support vehicle! You never know what might happen the road and we would love to be accompanied along the way! There will be mechanics in the group but parts and refreshments will need their own ride.

3) Donate any spare bicycles to the cause! There are many organisations who refurbish unused bicycles and donate them to asylum seekers and refugees, message us and we can connect you!


Critical Mass is 20!

21 Mar

Mass it up in April, when Critical Mass will be turning 20 years old!

Critical Mass in April will be held on FRIDAY the 25TH. You can even celebrate early at the Mass on March the 28th!

Critical Mass is a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world. Everyone is invited! And no one is in charge!

CM originated in 1992 in San Francisco and is now held in over 300 cities around the world (2003 figure, now likely much more).

  • You can read more about CM London’s figurative days, and take a nostalgic walk down early HTML webpage designs, by checking out their original webpage – Origins and Early days.
  • I also found this by Andy Smith, which includes (some) photos (!!) and ride reports, such as the CM London birthday ride from 1997. What a gem.
  • David Dansky of CTUK and Adam Thompson of Hackney Bicycle Workshops and Hackney Bicycle Film Society talk about early CM London.

Critical Mass Olympic Mess

29 Jul

Some of our fellow comrades and fellows of the London cycling community were arrested on Friday’s Critical Mass, coinciding with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The total number of arrests is unknown for now, though up to 130 have been noted.

On of our chumrades has written: “For collectively riding my bicycle on the streets of London last night I was brutally baton charged by maniacal police officers, manhandled, threatened, abused and then kettled before being arrested (without a single warning of any law that I had broken) and put onto a bus with about twenty other people. I was driven to Charing Cross police station and was made to stay on that bus for 8 hours, being let out once to piss. I was subjected to completely inappropriate police jokes about water-boarding, bullied, verbally abused, and intimidated by officers.

I am bailed to return to the police station in September to see if they have the balls to charge me with anything. Until that happy time I am:

1. Not to go within 100 yards of any Olympic venue.

2. Not to enter any Olympic only carriageway, unless that carriageway is open to all traffic at that specific time. (Whose streets?)

3. Not to enter the borough of Newham whilst in possession of a cycle.

4. Take part in any activity that disrupts the intended or anticipated official activities of the Olympic games.

Thank you to you beautiful comrades who cycled ‘furiously’ after the arrest bus to the cop shop and lurked around on the street corners until the small hours like beautiful anarchic rain clouds. Love to you all, lets fight like we’ve never won and live like we’ve never lost.
Fuck the Police.
Fuck the Olympics.”

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Indymedia London article
PressTV article

April 20th: London to Brighton ride

16 Apr

For the BRIGHTON BIKE FEST (April 16th-22nd), we’ll be hosting the London to Brighton ride!

Friday the 20th at 9:30am
Ride should be ~6 hours
We’ll link up with Critical Mass once we get down to Brighton

Leaving from 56a:
56a Crampton St
London SE17 3AE

Bring water, clothes for cold or wet weather, and a comfy bike with some gears to go up the hill before Brighton!

A big up to all who came and made it a ride to remember! Some photos from the ride are below:

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Chaos and Bikes! A 56abikespace History

29 Oct

Apologies for taking ages for posting, but we had been doing a bit of renovation in the Bikespace during the autumn. So for this post we’re focusing on the history of the 56abikespace. Here’s a bit of narrative as told by XC:

The History of the Bike Workshop at 56a from a dodgy memory…

1995 to Today: CHAOS and BIKE LENDING

In 1995, Emily and XC returned from Sacramento in California where they had been greatly impressed by the Bike Library that was operated by the punks at gig and record space The Loft. After finding and collecting old half-working bikes, various 56a folk began to assemble about a dozen bikes for a 56a Bike Library. As we had also been involved in Critical Mass in London since the second ride in May 1994, we were also keen to have bikes around the 56a for people to borrow for the monthly mass. We were also keen for the Crit Mass not to be the boring cycle-a-thon it currently is. Despite circulating numerous zines, leaflets, suggestions for themed rides, organising a bike sex-orgy outside No.10 on one of the rides, a ride around inside the McDonalds on Oxford St and so on, the Mass never really became the orgasmic challenge to capitalism it could have been.

Anyhow, back at 56a, we now had a load of very-punk rock bikes, brought back into re-use by the punk bike mending techniques of us all. This it has to be said is the direct opposite of the highly-skilled bikey folks at the workshop in the present period. I remember on one of the Crit Mass rides, someone heading downhill with the throng with no brakes whatsoever, as we hadn’t managed to finish that bike, or someone who, on circling around Buckingham Palace, had their saddle fall off. Anyhow, fun will always out at 56a, so we all took it in good steed and kept the punk bikes presence going.

By the time, the bikes were actually a Library with a real deposit scheme of a mere 5 pounds, we also began to see how fucking flaky people are. All the bikes went out and about 2 or 3 came back. People were just so lazy that they would get a puncture and just leave the bike in their garden and blow off the deposit. So you could say that the South London attempt at a Bike Library was a bit of a disaster despite working really well in Sacramento. Live and learn, folks. Live and fucking learn…


Probably due to us lot hanging out and moaning at Crit Mass we met Viktor VJ-er, a very bikey dude from California. He became the first real bike mechanic at 56a and encouraged, with another very bikey English person, Patrick, us to move the mass of bikes and bike parts out of the tiny 56a yard and into the massive ground floor space at the rear of 56a Infoshop (which doesn’t exist anymore! We have a picture somewhere…). People won’t know but we used to have access to the double storey building behind 56a which we would enter through a secret door (where the Book Exchnage is now). That space was an old b

akery and had at the rear a massive and beautiful but totally fucked bakers oven. It was the first building of our series of free spaces to be squatted way back in the late 80’s. Some artists wanted studio space and so opened it up. Eventually in 1988, Martin Oddsocks who set up Fareshares and others no doubt, opened up the 56 Crampton Space by coming through the wall at the back. Anyhow, we moved all the old crap out and moved all our new bike frames, wheels, parts, racks etc in. It was a great big space with lots of height and exposed rafters to hang stuff from. We got given a super dooper bike stand to work bikes on and then a whole raft of donations.

It must be said that the whole time the bike workshop was in that space, it was always total chaos without any real sense of fixed shifts or people to be there regularly. Both Vicktor and Patrick moved on and so for a while it continued in a very punk rock fashion of total ramshackle and makeshift mending and fixing up stuff. It was always a mess despite the efforts of a few to constantly spend hours coming in and tidying it all. Even though we had workshop tables and loads of space and loads of tools all able to sit in the allocated spaces, it always looked like the Apocalypse after a few days of use. BUT it was still very beautiful and crazy and once the kids of the area discovered the space it got even more bonkers.

As revolutionary anarchists used constant negotiation over power and who has it (ha ha), letting a bunch of rowdy local kids in to roam freely was never going to be a good idea especially when we thought that telling them off was uncool. Anyway after about a year of unruly and messy behaviour, some rules began to be established – the same kind of rules that operate now. Basically just a way to cut down on boys wanting to smoke weed and bring girls into your bike space or just rip everything off or just want to beat you up. Some of the young men who come to the bike workshop now and are very polite and nice are the same ones who less than 10 years ago were using the space and being very young, annoying and stupid. Nice to see that, it really is. One other factoid is that we cleared up the bike space to host the rocking 2001 Ten Years anniversay party of 56a complete with X-Chris’s Funk Shack! Way to go. There are pictures…somewhere, if you ask nicely.

Oh, by the way, in 2002 or something like that, the rear building was evicted finally by The Council to re-let it out as a film studio or something. I was in the 56a toilet once and heard a right load of moaning and groaning. I hope they aren’t making those kind of films behind their now blacked out windows…


So we had to get rid of assloads of bikes and wheels and frames and parts and rationalise the bike space into one side of the yard again, where the whole thing had begun. Here, things actually got more organised with some doors made to keep theiving bastards out of the tool cupboards and so on. I don’t remember who was involved in it now. I just remember it being totally stressful doing a 56a shift and running the bike workshop space at the same time as well as a period of

youngsters being super aggressive, super thieving from the places and also trying to break in now and again. Anyone who worked at 56a in these years will tell you the same story of how it became a total nightmare of having no-one to actually be a dedicated bike fixing person and how we were just running around, doing the best we could with no real decent tools.

Us 56a krew had always wanted a regular and commited Bike Workshop collective that would keep this great space open and functioning but it never seemed to happen. One guy got super excited to be involved, did about three shifts before setting up a 56a Bike Worskhop MySpace page then we never saw him again. It was a frustrating time indeed.

But then (hurrah) I guess at this point Tim came along and began the slow slow process of working very patiently with local kids and others who came to use the space and the resources. Without him, the space would probably be long dead and buried. The rest is the Bike Workshops own history to write up…! I hope they do…

56a Infoshop