The Cargo Bike Band: It’s all about the route, not the destination.
01.10.2022 | Travels
Drums, keyboards, speakers: The “Cargo Bike Band” have found their own unique and creative solution to the tour buses that other bands can’t do without. Every summer, the group of students start out in Lausanne and embark on a month-long tour through the Swiss and French Alps. They stop wherever the view is beautiful and wherever they are drawn to along the way. They always have instruments, equipment, solar panels and even a mobile camping kitchen with them on their Cargo Bikes.
Arthur’s eyes light up when he tells us about the tour they just finished: “For the third year in a row, the Cargo Bike Band did a lap of Lake Geneva and even cycled up to Manigod in the Haute-Savoie department.” The musicians have converted the band’s Cargo Bikes – two Packster 80 and four Packster 60 models – to provide enough room for all their luggage, instruments, speakers, and camping gear. “This way, they were always quickly ready for use”, says Arthur. “There was nothing standing in the way of our spontaneous concerts and hang-outs by the lake, on market squares or high up in the mountains.”
Impressions of the 2022 summer tour
The climate-friendly tour.
The Cargo Bike Band were founded in 2018 as a project by students of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). There are five musicians in the core group. They meet in the winter months to plan and work on setting up and converting their Cargo Bikes. Not only have they optimised the energy efficiency of the audio system, but they have also made sure to use ultra-lightweight and ecological materials.
The band want to be self-sufficient on tour. They have grown closer and closer to achieving this aim over the years. They generate the energy they require to charge the Cargo Bikes and power their sound system almost entirely using the extra-lightweight solar panels that they transport on the "Power Bike". Thanks to the high-performance batteries and a well-practised daily routine, they only needed a mains power supply to recharge everything on three very cloudy days out of the about four-week tour.
“The Cargo Bike Band are a nomad collective. Creative and sustainable.”
© Cargo Bike Band
Slow travelling: It’s all about the route, not the destination.
The musicians cover distances of 30 to 40 km (roughly 18 to 25 miles) on a travel day. But on long legs of the journey, it can be as much as 80 km (almost 50 miles). However, maximum speed and range don’t really matter to them. “Go slow” is the band’s motto. The members decide where and how long to stop on the spur of the moment. They enjoy being totally immersed in the here and the now. The beautiful countryside around Lake Geneva and the picturesque mountain villages in the Haute-Savoie department make this really easy for them.
Along the way, the band have a knack for attracting performers, dancers and artists who join the group. Sometimes for just a few days, sometimes for weeks: “On our tour in summer 2021, seven of us started out in Lausanne. At the height of the tour in Yvoire, the group grew to 16 people”, Arthur laughs as he tells us.
» We put on environmentally friendly concerts and performances. To do this, we travel on nothing but Cargo Bikes – quiet and sustainable. We don’t want a tour bus. «
Bikes are enough.
Alongside their equipment, the group, led by environmental activist Arthur Parmentier, also want to transport a message with their Cargo Bikes. They see themselves as the representatives of a minimalistic, resource-conserving, and climate-friendly lifestyle. While on the road, they therefore use food-sharing networks to save perfectly good food from going to waste. This is then used to cook delicious meals for the whole group using the gas stove on the “Cuisto Bike” – or it leads to an invite to last-minute “disco soup evenings”.
“Our philosophy is to tap into the unbelievable potential of Cargo Bikes to achieve more with less. We pedal to save energy and be a bit more eco-friendly in our very own way. You can do so much, even with very little. Cargo Bikes and bicycles are enough. You don’t always need a car or a bus. Let’s be spontaneous and creative”, Arthur says to sum it all up. He then chuckles and adds: “And have fun!”
The Cargo Bike Band’s fleet
… charges the fleet’s batteries on days when the sun is shining. The ultra-lightweight solar panels were specifically designed for the band. Other solar modules and batteries come from a collaboration with a company called EcoFlow. Once charged, the batteries supply all the energy the sound system and the bikes need.
… is the fleet’s oldest vehicle. The drums mounted on the Cargo Bike can be folded and unfolded using a sophisticated system of articulated arms. During concerts, the Percu Bike really gets things going on stage. All eyes are on it during the performances.
… transports the band’s small but mighty keyboard. The versatile instrument enables the musicians to take their audience on a journey through a wide range of soundscapes.
… is the fleet’s newest member. It was designed and built with the help of a local joinery. The kitchen bike enables the band to cook delicious meals wherever they go and enjoy them together. Thanks to the built-in gas canister, it’s basically a restaurant on wheels that joins the band on their summer tour.
... as it is lovingly known, transports all the other bits and bobs they need.