Monkeylectric – safe cycling or just a bit of fun? 11 May 2019
As we come into the winter months and cyclists contemplate cycling in the dark once again, we have to remember that if you are seen then you are less likely to be hit. To ensure they are seen cyclists have used different lights but they are mainly red and white. Others paint their bikes in luminescent paint so their bikes glow in the dark. Again, you won’t be missed on a glow in the dark bike unless someone is wearing sunglasses at night!
A company called Monkeylectric has emerged that has developed a set of spoke lights called Monkey Lights, that create animations on your wheels with LED lights. From £25 per wheel, you can hook an LED circuit board and battery to your wheels and as you ride, a pre-programmed animation will flash across your wheels. One of the publicity shots is of a dog on the rear wheel chasing a cat on the front. Now, there’s being seen and there’s being remembered – the sort of thing that someone driving home will tell their partner!
Being noticed in such a way to be remembered is very important on the dark city streets as in raising that sort of interest will ensure that drivers notice you and hopefully give you the room you need.
The makers also claim that it has 360 degree visibility. This means that from behind people will see at least a sheet of light on your wheels that grows into the animation as they catch up and pass.
OK, so you’re amped up about having a new animation on your wheels and are just about to look it up on Amazon? Some thoughts. Another blogger has tested it and found that it may not be as wonderful as it appears on paper.
The first issue is that unless you’re cycling to work before dawn and returning after dusk, it looks a bit obvious during the day. An L shaped circuit board is eye catching for the wrong reasons if you are the sort to take pride in how your expensive machine looks. It isn’t easily removed or fitted – a good thing from the perspective of it not being stolen, but for the vain cyclist this could be problematic. If the company were to improve this great idea, then a quick release mechanism should be top of the list!
The next issue is that it might not work so well in the most dangerous traffic – the slow and congested sort where people are impatient and more likely to take risks at the lights. You see, the animations only really work at speeds of 10mph and more, and below that speed are just a collection of LEDs. I live in an extremely rural location and accept that being lit with Bugs Bunny running away from the farmer would get you seen from a fair distance by a speeding car. Most commuters wouldn’t be doing eight miles on pitch dark lanes, but will be in traffic for much of their routes, and despite the fact they can go more quickly than cars in that traffic will be limited by lights, cars and other cyclists. In short, it looks funky and may be cool for your after work ride but where it counts it might not be as effective a safety measure as it could be. Where with the quick release idea above I suggest a solution, I have no idea how to change this one!
No harm in being seen and remembered on the road! A driver laughing at your wheels is going to be paying attention to you and to see you in full as they pass, will possibly even give you more room. Equally where someone has high blood pressure and a sense of humour failure having been caught by the red lights AGAIN in Central London, they may not see you let alone pay attention to you in the most dangerous, congested traffic. Also if you like being seen as you love attention and have forked out £££ to get a bike that gets that attention, it may ruin your image if you ride during the day!