Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Successful Kickstarter Bike Lighting Project

The "mini-monkey" wheel lighting system

This is one of a number of products out there trying to push the combination of making cycling in the dark safer (by providing a more visible bicycle) with a version of "fun" achieved with a bike that displays lighting patterns on the spokes.

The video shows riders chugging along with their wheels lit up nicely by these devices, making amusing patterns of light. As is usual with such videos, the riders don't have either headlights or tail-lights, so while they have lights they aren't following the law (in most jurisdictions) or common sense, for that matter.

The video spends a fair amount of time on technical aspects and not just showing how much fun this is, which is good. The design does seem better than some others - the "mini" aspect is that the unit that attachs to the spokes is small, so it doesn't throw off the wheel balance (much). The battery pack attaches to the hub, again to prevent the wheel from being unbalanced. Of course it does mean you have a wire running down a spoke to connect the hub unit to the lighting panel thing.

I am not much in favor of solutions (if one considers this a solution to the bicycle lighting problem) that don't scale well. If there were lots of cyclists all using this sort of lighting, it would be annoying and distracting.

Fortunately (again, in my view) at 50 bucks a unit (and what cyclist wouldn't insist on one for both wheels?) I don't think we'll be seeing too many of these around. I was also amused that they supply a steel security strap - nothing like having something new on your bike to attract "mini-theft."

What might be kind of cool would be something far more subtle (not making patterns) that would put a couple of LEDs on the wheels of bikes that have power generator hubs. I guess.

Anyway . . . they got over-funded, so good for them.

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