Shining some light on your next night bicycle ride

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I’m always amazed at the ingenuity shown by so-called “garage inventors” when it comes to bicycles. It seems that more people than ever are using their talents to develop useful components for bicycles.

Nowhere is that more true than with bicycle lighting systems. Here are a few that I’ve stumbled across lately.

One is Revolights, which gives bicycles a Tron-like appearance when seen from the side at night. While headlamps and taillights alert motorists to you from ahead and behind, those lights often don’t make you visible from the sides.

Revolights use LEDs attached at intervals to the bicycle wheel. Sensors detect the bike speed and blink the lights at a certain rate to create the appearance of a light bar on your wheels.

The San Francisco-based founders — Kent Frankovich and Adam Pettler — translated this idea into a business with the help of a campaign that raised more than $215,000. Now, they’re selling the kit for $250 each.

Monkey Lights

Another fun lighting system that makes your bike more visible from the side is Monkey Lights. These LED lights attach to your wheel and display different light patterns as your wheels spin.

Two different styles — the M210 and M232 — are available through Amazon.

A third light system — the Video Pro Wheel Screen — actually displays images on a spinning wheel. This isn’t sold directly to consumers, however, but can be ordered in lots of 10.

The lighting system was developed a few years ago by Dan Goldwater, a Bay Area electrical engineer and bicycle enthusiast. He also co-founded the do-it-yourself website as well as other projects.

Bike Zone

BikeZone pavement lights

Another light system — the Bike Zone — displays a laser light onto the pavement about 3 feet on both sides of the bicycle. If you want to signal a turn, the Bike Zone indicates a left or right turn by shining animated symbols that look like arrows on the ground.

Designed by Frank Guo, Hung Wang, and Sturt Morrow, the design won bronze at the Lite-On Awards competition sponsored by Taiwan’s Lite-On Technology Corp. Unfortunately, it is not commercially available at this time. See more information at


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    • RS on November 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm
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    I /love/ this idea. However, after ordering one of the above mentioned lights I can confirm that it does make my wheel unbalanced. Also, and perhaps more importantly, this bike accident from earlier in the year was the result of one of these wheel lights:

    Fantastic idea in theory, but definitely some troubles in practice.

    1. Thanks for that info. I read that story, and comments, and didn’t see where it specifically mentions one of these lighting systems detaching from the spokes and getting caught in the wheels, although that is certainly a strong possibility. I hope the manufacturer was made aware of this deficiency and has taken appropriate action so it doesn’t happen again. And I hope Christian is much better now; that’s a terrible crash he suffered.

    • Petra Hofmann on November 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm
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    I suggest checking out Hokey Spokes:

    1. That’s a good suggestion, Petra. I did a short story mentioning them back in 2007 — I should check my own database!

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