Making Lab

Our Making Lab has played host to many stages in bicrophonic developments over 10+ years, including interaction for bike-as-instrument, bike-to-bike communication along with hardware design updates.

Environmental Bike development

Environmental Bike will be a bike that makes sound and music live from the quality of the air that you ride through.  Sonification of the incoming air read by an air quality sensor installed in the bike box will trigger and process sounds from the increasing or decreasing levels of particulate matter it breathes. This will mean that sonic bike compositions will become a more interactive and investigatory experience for the rider, cycling through a city to hear as well as record the surrounding air quality. Enabling new sonic and listening experiences, it will also invite a different level of engagement. Come ride a bike to discover your environment. Can you find a clean path?


Initial learning has been enabled by our collaboration with FoAM-Kernow and the Sonic Kayak, most specifically in the Sonification Lab (see below) where the task was to design a real time sonification and cohesive system for the kayak’s three sensors that read air quality, turbidity, and temperature.  Essentially also for these sonifications to communicate the state of these environments to the kayak paddler/audience/citizen scientist as they go.

For the practice of a sound artist, ie. the requirement to create purely functional sonic outcomes,  this is a huge challenge. However, as well as the collaborative creation and learning acquired by all, the making of this robust technical system also makes the foundation of the Environmental Bike.   (MORE)

Sonic Kayak sonification lab

Remote working between Berlin and Cornwall, May 2020. Full details on the Sonic Kayak page here.


Sensory Bike Development

The Sensory Bike, now completed, was first prototyped back in 2013 by Kaffe, Dave, Ryan and Cat. In March 2016 we were delighted to welcome Sukander Kartadinata for an Interaction Residency, coming to work with Kaffe to develop the sonic bike into more of an instrument. Our aim was to enable the rider to play the sound from the bike by how they ride. Not just to trigger a different sample in a different way, but to allow for example the rider to cycle through a sound or synthesize it directly by their pedalling. Following this, extensive development took place during Kaffe’s Berlin based Edgard Varèse professorship in 2016 which realised the completion of the Sensory Bike.

The Sensory Bike was trialled at the SoundCycleGarden project in 2016 and launched at the lean to go up, slow to go loud project later that year.

Hall effect sensor on handlebars

A hall sensor: reading changes in a magnetic field created by steering, mounted on the handlebars. MORE.

Hall effect sensor on wheel

A hall sensor: reading the speed of spin of the wheel, from magnets on the spokes and frame. MORE

Infra-red (IR) receivers

A cadence sensor made from two reflective infrared(IR) sensors mounted on top of the chain ring. MORE and MORE

Hall effect sensor on chain ring

A hall sensor: reading the pedalling, mounted on top of the chain ring pointing at the cog to read the magnetic pulses. MORE.

Infa-red (IR receivers)

In hind site these can be seen to work brilliantly, but in low light only. MORE


Prototype experiments in sound synthesis dependent on the vibration of the bike, making holes in the tarmac and bumps musical.

  • Read the full details about the Interaction Residency with Sukander in the Blog starting here.
  • Follow the journey of how the sensory bike was made: BRI blog #sensory-bike

Hardware & Software Design

Pure data

A series of BRI hosted Pure data workshops in spring 2016 with a view to working with live data inputs from sonic bike riding in future. Led by Andy Farnell with Kaffe and a brilliant new group of BRI coders.

Sub woofer

The newly found minirig speakers, first used on the sonic trike, also come with a small self powered sub woofer and so BRI plans are forming to integrate the sub into new sonic bikes designs, adding bass to the biking experience.

Speaker positioning

There is ongoing need to design bars that hold speakers in a variety of positions, for different riding situations. A new adjustable speaker bar is on the horizon thanks to CameronKaffe and Sukander.

Tandems and cargo bikes

Ideas of sonic biking for families in cargo bikes and pairs on tandems is leading investigation into new designs for the travelling sonic bike group. A future BRI aim for Kaffe and Lisa

Bike-to-bike interactivity

Development into bike-to-bike interactivity, experiments led by Kaffe and Dave with help from Ryan, Cat and lots of other London Fields park goers in 2013.

Three bikes explore bike swarm behaviour using FM transmission, android app and  accelerometers to change ring modulated tones through motion and tilt. MORE.

A raspberry pi was used to create a bike mesh network to play further desensitized accelerometer driven modulation between two sonic bikes. MORE.

The bike to bike mesh network altering modulation between two sonic bikes plus new “ghost zones”. MORE.

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