The Cycling Musician

Michael Friedmann
6 min readJun 6, 2021

°Circles — The End of Linearity
Episode 1

Manu Delago and his team did it! On June 2 2021 the small, sustainable tour entourage arrived back at the starting point after 33 days and over 1,500 km on the bike and ended the “ReCycling Tour 2021” appropriately with two concerts in the “Treibhaus” in Innsbruck.

The Tour Map (Source: Manu Delago ReCycling Tour 2021)

As special as his instrument, the Hang, is his initiative! Manu Delago wants to show that music and sustainability can be combined very well and thus also prove that you can ride a bike with zero fossil energy consumption and great personal commitment.

The team cycled almost every day and they played almost every day! Everything that was needed for making music and the show, including all personal items and food, was stored in bicycle trailers from the Munich company Hinterher.The energy for the minimal lighting and sound systems came from the sun. Each trailer was equipped with a PV module and a 500 Wh battery. That was enough for a 90 minute performance in the evening.

Band and crew with bicycle trailers including integrated PV modules and batteries (Photo: Wolfgang Reithofer)

One day I was allowed to accompany the team that consisted of Manu Delago (Hang, Electronics and Team Captain), the two musicians Tobias Steinberger (percussions and laundry) and Alois Eberl (trombone, accordion and food), the sound engineer, navigator, tour doctor and flautist Lukas Froschauer and the light and solar technician Simon Schindler. The day’s stage led through the Wachau from Melk to Krems.

The previous day with approx. 100 km in heavy rain left its mark on people and material — the stressed material was given a thorough cleaning at the start of the day. During the trip the sun warmed the minds of the cycling group, charged the batteries and, above all, created a good mood.

The tour entourage in the Wachau Valley (Photo: Wolfgang Reithofer)

Music was not only made with the instruments, but also with a lot of different things that were used on the tour (bicycles, trailers, chains, air pumps, etc.). And that’s not all: Percussionist Tobias had the task of taking things along the roadside and using them as instruments!

Every day there were reports from the tour in video blogs and in countless postings, and also pointing out our all impact in everyday life. Without prejudeces it was shown how daily routines can be made more sustainable. The vegetarian food was brought fresh to the team every day — mostly by local fans — and taken carried during the day in recyclable lunch boxes without packaging.

Minimalistic but effective light show (Photo: Simon Reithofer)

In a personal conversation with Manu Delago, I found out about his motivation and ideas: Manu Delago wants to show that things can be done in a different, simpler way and therefore more sustainable. If it is possible to organize a band tour in an energy self-sufficient way and with the smallest possible footprint, then we can all succeed in our efforts to be more sustainable in everyday life!

Usually a tour is an energy and resource consuming undertaking: lighting and stage technology, handling the transport, catering and entertaining the audience, to name just the most important factors. Of course, the audience was also asked to come to the concerts as sustainably as possible (i.e. on foot, by bike or public transport). By dealing with all influencing factors and reflecting on the essentials, we become aware of how diverse and largely our daily actions affect our environment.

The cyclists crossing the Danube River (Photo: Wolfgang Reithofer)

To estimate the CO2 savings of the “ReCycling Tour 2021” we can do the following rough calculation:

Normally, at least two cars would be used for the small team of 6 people (including a photo / videographer). A total of 372 kg of CO2 would be emitted over 1550 kilometers driven based on emissions of 120 g CO2 per km.

The 5 PV modules on the bicycle trailers each provide around 500 Wh of energy per day. That makes a total of almost 83 kWh over 33 days, which in the Austrian electricity mix (90 g CO2 per kWh) saves around 7 kg of CO2.

The vegetarian diet brings almost as much as the reduction of car transport: Supposing a mix of approx. one third of beef with over 17 kg CO2e per kg meat and two thirds of poultry or pork with approx 3 kg CO2e per kg meat would result in a CO2e saving of 322 kg based on a total meat consumption of 40 kg for 6 people within 33 days. In this case, the methane emissions of the ruminants and the nitrous oxide emissions resulting from farming the feed — especially from the fertilizer — are converted into CO2 equivalent (hence CO2e; the emission data come from the German Federal Environmental Agency).

Packaging (e.g. for food and drinks from the supermarket) was deliberately avoided. How much does this bring? We take the Austrian average of 650 g of plastic packaging per week and person and assume for the production of plastic a value of 1.3 kg CO2 per kg of plastic. This results in a CO2 saving almost 24 kg.
And if every team member had bought an aluminum beverage can with a weight of 14 g of aluminum every day and we consider a conservative assumption of CO2 emissions of 9 kg CO2 per kg aluminum, a further 25 kg of CO2 would have accrued.

Calculated savings of the ReCycling Tour 2021 (Source: ICT Institute for Clean Technology)

To get a feel for the relationships: The average annual CO2 emissions of every Austrian are about 10 tons, i.e. approx. 830 kg per month. The example of the tour therefore shows in a very striking way what each of us can contribute! By reducing meat consumption and car trips, our footprint can quickly be pushed below the 10 ton mark. With a little commitment, you can save a good two tons per year. Further potentials then arise in heating, cooling and through conscious consumption in general.

How wonderful that Manu Delago leaves out the for some boring and daunting calculations and communicates to us via the music! In the evenings, at the sessions and concerts, the stresses and strains of the day are forgotten and the artists are in their true element: Rhythmic, earthy music that speaks to us, takes us away and inspires us.

Manu Delago in the Stadtsaal in Vienna (Foto: Simon Reithofer)

Inspiration is the magic word that makes Manu’s face shine! He wants to infect, motivate and inspire as many people as possible, also outside the music industry. So that many people begin to make a contribution and simply try it out: taking one step — or pedaling —at a time in the direction of a conscious and sustainable lifestyle.

You can find the official ReCycling 2021 tour video here.

> back to



Michael Friedmann

Born 1968 in Graz. Master degree in chemical engineering. Founder of the Institute for Clean Technology. Loving my wife, my 2 kids and our planet!