Rock the Bike powered bikes
The debut spin class watches as the energy counter rises. (Photo: Courtesy of Rock the Bike / Paul Freedman)

At Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville, California, indoor cycling classes energize employees – and, the electrical grid.

Last year, the company retrofitted its spin bikes with special generators made by a company called “Rock the Bike.” When you pedal one, it produces electricity that feeds the grid.

The total output of the class is tracked on an LED display.

One class only produces enough to power a small appliance such as a coffee maker. But Paul Freedman, founder of Rock the Bike, says the experience can make people more conscientious about how they use energy in the rest of their lives.

For example, knowing the effort it takes to produce 60 watts might make people think twice about leaving a light on.

Freedman: “I’ve now gotten to a point where if I’m laying in bed and I know that I left a light on, it’s going to bother me enough that I’m going to go and turn it off.”

He says pedaling for power gives people a new way to relate to energy and see it as a hard-earned resource that should never go to waste.

Freedman: “I think that the main benefit of pedal power is accessing people’s hearts and getting them to a place where they care about their consumption of energy.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Sarah is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. She is interested in how people think and talk about the connections between climate change and their individual lives, livelihoods, and communities.

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