Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DIY Bicycle-Powered Machines Gift Ideas

In Defying Poverty with Bicycles, I wait until the last chapter to encourage readers to experiment with machines powered with bicycles. I also include a warning to ensure that all Social Bike Business tasks are taken care of before embarking on these projects. Otherwise, the temptation to spend all our time with these fun projects could be too much.

But the holiday season, with its slowed pace and time to tinker, might be the perfect time to buck that warning and give it a try. There are several groups of pedal-powered machines for you to choose from. Consider what you want to power first, then decide whether direct rotational power will suffice or whether you will have to incorporate a generator and batteries for long-term power.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 12 to give you some ideas:

Bike machines are another fanciful addition to your manufacturing lineup. Bicycles can power knife sharpeners, corn grinders, electrical generators, battery chargers, washing machines, water pumps and water filters. The opportunities are endless. Each could become a mobile business for your training graduates or remain at your center for its use or to rent for specific amounts of time. Search the internet for “bicycle powered” and you’ll find ideas you never could have imagined. Some operate as bicycles to carry their owners to a place where they can set up shop. Then, with just a few turns of a wrench, the pedals become the power that turns the knife sharpening wheel, grinder, battery charger or other contraption. Before moving into producing many of the same type of machine, ask whether that particular bicycle powered machine is the most needed and in demand.
For instance, a remote rural area might benefit enormously from rentable bicycle powered corn grinders. If your center is in a remote area that has sketchy electrical service, your program itself might benefit from setting up several bicycle powered electrical generators that could provide direct power or charge car batteries for longer term use. Your volunteers and even kids in the area will enjoy pedaling a few rounds to build up the juice. Bicycle powered water pumps and filters could also directly benefit your center if your water supply is distant and not trustworthy. 
If you and your team want to go into production of bicycle machines to sell, you’ll need to narrow your choices or end up wasting an enormous amount of time producing a machine that no one will be interested in. Make sure the machines you produce offer a significant benefit to many people in your area and will be in high demand. Otherwise, keep your bicycle machine creations in the realm of off-duty time for your welders who want to play around.

This holiday season could give you and your team the chance to play around with ideas. Even if you don’t hit on a great machine to reproduce at your social bike center, you could come up with some wild gifts for the quirkiest people on your list.

And don’t forget those movers and shakers on your list who’d love to learn how to help people with bicycles. A copy of Defying Poverty with Bicycles might be all they need to charge ahead.


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