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MonkeyLectric Bike Wheel Light Review

by Pete Prebus

Pete PrebusThis is a guest post from Pete Prebus. Pete runs Electric Bike Report and is enthusiastic about spreading the word about electric bikes because they have great potential to get more people on bikes and out of their cars.


Have you ever thought that something used for safety could also be fun? Well that is what the folks at MonkeyLectric decided on for their bike wheel light products. This bike wheel light attaches to the spokes and when turned on can create wild patterns as the wheel spins.

The only way I know to truly show you how this light looks is to show you. The following video is from MonkeyLectric so you know they are showing off their best stuff. Your results may vary and I am not sure we can all ride like the freestyle rider in the video — at least speaking for myself!

Okay, now that you have seen what these lights can do let me give you my thoughts on the pros and cons of the MonkeyLectric M133 bike light.

Pros

Add some bling to your bike! These lights will definitely set you apart from the crowd that just uses a simple head light and flashing tail light to be seen at night. You become the life of the party on your commute (party?) or cruiser ride around downtown! I think anybody that takes pride in making their bike unique should consider these lights.

MonkeyLectric

Photo: MonkeyLectric

Seriously though, these lights are pretty effective at helping you be seen from the side. They don’t help much with being seen from the front or back so I would still recommend the traditional head light and flashing tail lights. With all of those lights there really should be no excuse that someone couldn’t see you at night.

The MonkeyLectric light was very easy to install on my 26-inch crusier bike wheel and the instructions were very straightforward.

So far the battery life seems good. I would expect that with a light that uses LED’s and three AA batteries.

Cons

So if you bring the party at night with your crazy wheel lights, there tends to be the hangover the next day, right? What I mean is that the light strapped to your spokes in your wheel looks a bit strange during the day. This light is actually pretty large and my wife keeps telling me that I have a small piano attached to my front wheel (roughly the shape of the light). It also has a unfinished look where you can see some of the electronic stuff. It will be up to you to decide if you can live with this for the payoff at night.

MonkeyLectricI have been testing only one MonkeyLectric light in my front wheel, and, as I imagined, the rotating weight of the light gets a little weird at higher speeds. When I am going above 20 mph I can feel the out-of-balance weight effect of the light in my wheel (the light uses three AA batteries). To balance this out you could add an equal counter weight or another MonkeyLectric light to the opposite side of the wheel. Adding the second MonkeyLectric light adds more bling and I have seen a number of people do this.

I haven’t had a chance to ride it on consistently rainy days like you could experience in the Northwest. From the looks of the construction I wonder if it would hold up to that kind of abuse. Again, this is just me being curious about that; it maybe totally waterproof.

The price at around $60 seems a little high. It seems that this light could be produced for less money. At the same time you are getting a device that improves your safety and adds some serious style. That combo can be worth a lot.

That’s a wrap!

So what do I think about the MonkeyLectric bike light? Overall I like what it does for safety and adding some bling to my bike. It would be nice if the light were a little smaller and less expensive.

What do you think? Do you own a MonkeyLectric? Let’s hear your thoughts on this light.

 
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13 Responses to “MonkeyLectric Bike Wheel Light Review”

  1. David Higginson says:

    The closer you slide the light towards the hub in the center of the wheel, the less wobble you will feel.

    No troubles with wet or snow so far in Alaska after a year.

    Eye catching in daylight too.

  2. BluesCat says:

    Pretty cool.

    Now if I can just locate that old cache of LSD, I’ll be all set!

  3. Ted Johnson says:

    Pete: Is it motion-activated, or do have to remember to turn it on and off?

  4. Celos says:

    MonkeyLectric has a Kickstarter project going for their new lights, which have a battery pack that mounts on the hub to help with balance. It doesn’t look like the new lights span the entire radius of the wheel, though.

    Info here: http://www.monkeylectric.com/m210.htm

    I’ve been using NiteIze spokelights for a couple years during the winter months, and they are great. Much less fancy, of course, and I’m not entirely convinced they do anything for safety, since the car that sees them is traveling perpendicular to me and likely about to hit me. That said, people love them and I get a lot of comments.

    Info here: http://www.niteize.com/collections/led/products/spokelit

  5. Adam says:

    You can find a similar product at this url:

    http://www.adafruit.com/category/6

    These are in a kit form, so some assembly (soldering) required. It’s definitely more for the geek, but if you’re motivated to learn you can have a lot of fun.

  6. Hey Ted, ya gotta turn it on and off via the buttons on the light.

  7. Rusty Wright says:

    She sees a piano? It’s a shoe, from the side. It’s upside down in your picture though.

  8. Rusty Wright says:

    Last year I bought something similar online somewhere that was shipped directly from Hong Kong, for something like $15 so obviously the price could be much lower. The one that I got only had a half dozen patterns or so; one was the current time, another I think was your wheel rpm. It needed a magnet mounted to the fork or frame to sense the revolutions. The light part only mounted on and touched one spoke so it was impossible to keep it correctly oriented; functionally basically junk.

    For the price that monkeylectric is charging I’d expect a usb port so that you could connect to your computer and download pictures and more conveniently program its patterns.

  9. Gene @ BU says:

    When I was visiting the UK a bike dealer had sets of front and rear bicycle lights with integrated turn signals. I should have purchased them on the spot. The rear lights were a set of 12 LED’s (3 red, 6 yellow, 3 red) and the outer three on each side were turn signals. Simple and from what I understand quite effective in traffic.

  10. janine says:

    I have monkeylights and love them, although there is alittle noticeable wobble on the wheel it seems negligible to me, and doesn’t affect my steering, although I have it on an old steel Bridgestone touring bike which weighs 28#. I wouldn’t doubt there is some spillover of light on the front and back, think i’ll do some research on it. My lights are extremely waterproof, but they do cost. I paid $59 on ebay and have purchased a set of factory seconds from the company for $29.

    Yet compared with the really good front lights needed in the country where I ride that is but a drop in the bucket. Safety wise I think they are worth their weight in gold.

  11. Paul S. says:

    Gene, were these the lights you saw in the UK?

    http://www.bicygnals.com/indicators.php

    They look very well thought out and of much higher quality than the cheapy versions I remember seeing as a kid. I’d love to see a good review. My biggest concern with them would be that cars might not understand they’re turn indicators if they merely blink, because unlike on a car, there’s not a lot of distance between the left and right signals.

  12. Hey Paul,

    Thank you for the review. We actually just came out with a new model that we are kickstarting. If you are interested in receiving a sample to test out please send me a private message.

  13. Annie says:

    They’re great, I want one!
    You can also create 3d shapes by spinning 2d patterns, it would be good to see that done, you could have a 3d cube in your wheels!
    I wonder if maybe the law will see them as a distraction if they become popular, there’s a whole host of lights that have been outlawed here in the UK, such as LEDs and strip lights underneath your sills on your car.
    I’m still going to buy some though, in fact i will do the balance thing and get 2 –>”the rotating weight of the light gets a little weird at higher speeds. When I am going above 20 mph I can feel the out-of-balance weight effect of the light in my wheel ”

    Thanks for the article.

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