MonkeyLectric Blog

August 3rd was Watermelon Day!

 

We celebrated with our friends at Nutcase Helmets, who made a delicious video of their watermelon helmet. We took some clips from their video and made our own on two Monkey Light Pros with Aaron riding on the rollers. Enjoy!

 

 

Monkeylectric's Tips for Bicycling in the Heat

 

Summer is upon us!

We all want to enjoy these beautiful days in the great outdoors and what better way to spend a nice day than on a bicycle?

Cycling is a great summertime activity but it is important to be aware of the risks of riding in hot weather.

Here are some tips from us to stay prepared this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Marek Ślusarczyk

 

Justin’s Tips:                                                                                                   

  • Use an insulated water bottle to keep liquids cold
  • Use bike racks and panniers to keep the load on your bike and off your body
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Plan for your area: bring layers if it cools down at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Phil’s Tips:

  • Sweat wicking clothing that dries quickly
  • Bring extra water
  • If you are doing a long ride, bring electrolytes or consume salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

John’s Tips:

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin
  • Water
  • Arm and leg warmers for sun protection and micro-climates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe’s Tips

  • Hydrate
  • Pour water on your head and forearms
  • Don’t push yourself too hard
  • Avoid riding in the hottest parts of the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, you may not be able to ride as hard or as far when it is really hot out so don't over exert yourself and above all remember to keep drinking water! And if you are out enjoying a nice summer evening ride, bring along a set of Monkeylights to stay visible while you beat the heat.

 

Stay safe and enjoy your summer!

 

 

The MonkeyLectric Selfie Bike in action!

The Selfie Bike in action!

Another Maker Faire is in the books.   If you stopped by, thank you!

Our booth

This year, we showed off our Selfie Bike: a bikey take on a photobooth.  We took photos with an iPad and beamed them to a Monkey Light Pro on our bike wheel.  (Shout-out to Detroit bikes for the gorgeous Made-in-the-USA bike!)  We also brought back our crowd favorite, Draw on the Wheel.   It’s a fun, interactive exhibit for children (and adults!) where we scan their drawings and broadcast them on a wheel for everyone in the exhibition hall to see.

What Maker Faire visitors saw

What Maker Faire visitors saw

We also had on display our M232, M210 and M204, as well as prototypes for our new, automatic A10 A15 and A30s that we Kickstarted last fall.

Another view of the Selfie Bike wheel

Another view of the Selfie Bike wheel

The Amelia Mouse Piano

We got a chance to wander about and see a lot of other DIY projects that Makers were showing off.  The Amelia Mouse Piano by Ramon Yvarra was a smart piano with a giant display that translated MIDI sequences to real songs and key strikes, complete with a giant LCD screen for visualization.

The Amelia Mouse Piano with Ramon YvarraThe Amelia Mouse Piano with Ramon Yvarra

An LED Piano: The Luminescent Grand

William Jerome and Zach Vorhies made this fully interactive LED grand piano.  It’s a beautifully responsive, musical light show.

Ephemeral Sand Painting Poetry

A serial Maker, Gijs Van Bon brought a new project to this year’s Faire.   Called Minuted, his device prints poetry on sand on a slow-moving belt.  The sand eventually falls into a pile, converting the temporary message into a pile of black and white sand.

Minuted Ephemeral Sand Poetry by Gijs Van Bon

Minuted Ephemeral Sand Poetry by Gijs Van Bon

Minuted Ephemeral Sand Poetry by Gijs Van Bon

Minuted Ephemeral Sand Poetry by Gijs Van Bon

 

It’s a remarkable device and a well-executed concept.

Robot Band

Tetsuji Katsuda made a merry band of charming robots who played songs on real instruments.

Watching Watchmaking

Amazing dexterity was on display at the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute booth.

We’d never seen a lathe so small make chess pieces so small.  It’s one thing to see a piece and appreciate the work that went into it, but watching it happen is on another level.

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute - Working the lathe

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute – Working the lathe

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute - Tiny chess pieces!

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute – Tiny chess pieces!

 

 

Unusual Cards

As always, we were happy to stop by the Unusual Cards booth!

Thanks for stopping by!

Many awesome folks stopped by our booth – thank you!  We were especially impressed by two folks from SCUL – a set of east-coast-based night riders who decided to fly out to San Francisco, buy bikes on craigslist, and then tour around California for a month through a series of long rides and bike camping.

We’re also thankful to Ritual Coffee for helping us stay caffeinated, our first taste of Mushroom Jerky from Far West Fungi, and the always fun, whimsical inventions of Steven M Johnson.

 

 

 

 

What are people saying about us?

 

 

We wanted to find out so we took a look at some of our customer reviews. We are incredibly proud to hold a 4.6 / 5 star approval rating. Here's a selection of some of our favorite reviews out of the hundreds that we read.

 


 

 

THEY MAKE YOU FEEL SAFER

 

 

"Drivers give me significantly more leeway with these lights. They seem to notice me earlier... There are fewer panicked close calls with drivers at intersections... Best lights for side visibility, an often overlooked safety angle. I would definitely recommend these lights." - T. Hawthorn

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"...I was pleasantly surprised to find my MonkeyLights still going strong and bright in their second year. They have saved my life at least two identifiable times as cars that were about to turn into me stopped instead." - D. Whitney

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"I love this Monkey Light. My friend got hit by a car riding to work a while back. Since then, I've noticed how really invisible we cyclists are to motorists, especially after dark... We simply are not as visible as we should be. So, I got a monkey light for my bike... I loved being able to be seen by all cars around me - coming and going. I also think the funky lights may have humanized me a little to even some of the more hateful/aggressive drives. I'm hearing a little less 'Get off the road - you idiot' and a little more ' hey, cool lights' being screamed at me out of passing automobiles. Big fan... I actually think that every cyclist should consider adding at least one of these monkey lights to their ride : )" - Walt Ray

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BUILT FOR THE LONG HAUL

 

 

 

"...It's lasted thru rain, snow, mud, 5 degree to 100 degree weather and the buttons still work fine... it has proven itself many times over. The batteries seem like it would be a pain to replace, but it's not. I would highly recommend this product to anyone who wants to be more visible or just have some fun" - L. Kopczynski

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"...Construction seems plenty sturdy. The river is running high this spring, and they've taken many a dunkin' and have kept working through it all. I've used them in temperatures ranging from 20 to 75 degrees. They are made in USA, and have a 2-year warranty. I'm still on the first set of batteries. (So far I've probably accumulated 10-12 hours of run time.) I'm sold! I did a bit of "comparison shopping" before buying. But there's really no competition - all other products I found are cheaply made and obviously not built for the long haul... (When I put 'em on in February, I anticipated taking 'em off about this time of year, when the days are long, to shave a few ounces. But they're not that heavy... They're staying on, and I'll be going on more summer night rides this year.) Ride On, Monkey Lights!" - Anonymous Customer

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"...They are light weight, weatherproof, way-bright on both sides, and the number of different pattern to choose from or cycle thru is fun. Quality product - my full size Monkey Lights are now into there 4th year of use, with never a problem. Batteries last forever - I recharge just 2 or 3 times per season. That makes them even more useful because I don't have to worry about changing/recharging often. They are just there and ready to go anytime. Awesome safety product that just happens to be super-cool as well. HIGHLY recommend." - Anonymous

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GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE

 

 

 

"Well I got this delivered 31 days ago and just finally got my bike out for the summer to install the light it is DOA. Contacted Amazon today about returning it for a replacement and they said no since it's one day past the return window. So now I have to go through the manufacture directly... MonkeyLectric responded back the same day with a fix for this issue. So if your unit locks up you can reset it by pressing the power button 4X, then the theme button 4X, then the color button 4X. Wait 10 seconds and then turn off the unit. I did this and it works perfectly. Great customer service from ML, I should have just contacted them first." - R. Boling

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"...Even great products can sometimes break and mine did encounter a problem resetting back from the low battery signal. However it was no big deal because the customer support at MonkeyLectric is amazing and they fixed me up with a new unit in no time. I highly recommend this light to anyone who commutes, especially in less than bike-friendly towns…" - Jane McGrath

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"Ordered this after seeing one on an antique gasoline engine... The company has been in contact by e-mail and their product support is great." - Dwayne Fuller

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FUN FOR EVERYONE

 

 

 

"Amazingly bright, easy to install, and unabashedly awesome. As a 35 year old man baby with a case of peter pan syndrome these lights have made my bicycle the coolest in town. Buy them for safety if you wish, you will be seen by all other vehicles on the road... I would certainly recommend one for each wheel, the brighter the better. Great product." - Anonymous Customer

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"Very Bossy! So my neighbor comes over for evening rides with my husband and I. He has his bike fixed up nicely and always puts us to shame. So we decided to upgrade our bikes a little... so i purchased 2 lights for the front and rear of my Electra Townie 7d... I went on the Monkey light website and looked at the user manual which gave me all I needed to know... I'm sure my bike is on FLEEK now!" - Amiyah Watkins

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"....So I was cycling home last night when a passing car slows down, rolls down their window, and hollers out at me as I'm trying to get my MonkeyLights spinning faster: "Thanks for the lights, man!" Huge puff of skunky smoke billowed out at the same time. They waved and drove off. True story." - LZ

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We're back with a brand new customer profile with Finn Snaterse!

 

This month, we talked to Finn about the perks and challenges of being the captain of a cargo bike in the Arctic Circle.

He tells us all the details and work that went into selecting the perfect ride for the whole family.

 

 

Finn's pirate cargo bike

Ahoy mateys!

 


 

Please tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and what do you do?

Usually when I introduce myself and where I live everybody looks at me a bit weirdly and tries to figure out if I'm pulling their leg, then again being Finn in Finland (not a Finn, just Finn) leaves plenty of room for silly word play. Always nice to use it breaking the ice in a conversation as Finns are usually 'a bit' shy using their English (even though most speak it pretty well). As you might guess I started off in another country only to find my way to the Arctic Circle for the same reason as so many other foreigners end up in Finland, they start dating someone from Finland and eventually move there.
Initially, as a Dutch person, living on the Arctic Circle was both challenging due to the cold winters and rewarding because of the stunning dynamics of nature. I remember freezing part of my ears when cycling to university at -30C (-22F). Being in a place where you shift between total daylight and total darkness/twilight every half a year makes sure that no week is the same.

 

Aurora 

What is your bicycling background and how did you become interested in it?

As time passed by, dating became marriage and being a couple became having a family. At the time when our kids were very young, cycling was less practical and got replaced by way too many car rides, especially during the cold winters. When visiting Holland last year we realized that using a car was not that practical as we were doing mostly short distances and we wanted to be outside, it was summer after all. After some searching we found a second hand cargo bike that fitted three kids. We really enjoyed going everywhere as you can have a lot of fun interacting together while moving from A to B. It was so much fun that we made a lot of extra kilometres.
Once back home, we were missing the cargo bike and had to use the car instead again. It didn't take us long to decide to get a new cargo bike at home as well so we would be able to have the same fun, use the car a lot less and get into a better shape. Money saved on the car goes straight to the bike and our carbon footprint is nicely reduced.

 

 

FinnFoto

 

What is it like riding a bike where you live?

[We decided on] a cargo bike, a two wheeler, but that was as far as we got initially. After a lot of reading on which models would be good we ended up going for an Urban Arrow with pedal assist, so that the hills become less of an issue and so that my wife would also enjoy taking the kids to places. No assist would mean you'd always have to work hard to cycle it.
Once we knew what we'd like to get I started figuring out if the bike would survive the Finnish winter. I assumed we wouldn't be cycling when it gets colder than -30C (-22F) and in the storage it would have to be able to survive -40C/F (yes it can get that cold up here). First thing I checked was if the engine and battery would survive the extreme temperatures, it took a few phone calls and eventually the manufacturer gave me the number of someone in Helsinki who had a lot of experience with Bosch engines. He assured me it would be fine at those temperatures even though the oil in the engine would get a bit thicker. The battery would have to be kept as warm as possible, in practise this came down to dragging it inside at every possible opportunity when the temperature dropped below -5C (23F).
Next up was looking at the NuVinci hub, would it survive the cold? Here as well, it took some calls with the importer and he mentioned that at -20C (-4F) you might risk breaking the hub. Storing and using it in even lower temperatures did not seem like such a good idea any more. A little disappointed (I really like the technique in a NuVinci) I bumped into a Rohloff hub, it operates at -15C (5F) easily, -30C (-22F) after an oil change, and can handle the power output of both my legs and the engine. It did come at a premium, however.
With everything sorted out, we ordered the bike and it arrived in November. The first thing I had to do was replace the tyres with studded ones as the first snow was already covering the roads. As winter progressed the snow pack grew larger and larger. We've been cycling at -28C (-18F), in snow storms, on icy roads, under the northern lights and the bike (and the kids) have held up miraculously well. My wife really enjoys taking the bike and going to visit friends.

 

 

Aurora2 

How did you hear about Monkeylectric?

Because our bike is the first one of it's kind (due to having a different hub) and because it's used so far North, I've been in frequent contact with the shop where I bought it. When mentioning all the ideas for tweaking the bike he mentioned it couldn't really go without Monkey Lights. Apart from plans for a pirate's crow's nest, additional headlights and indicators, lights in my wheels couldn't really be absent. As usual, I did my research and it seemed Monkey Lights were the best option to get that done. I was really happy to notice the photo contest they were organizing and put my wife and kids on the bike for a photo-shoot. While they were having thick clothes on and cycling in circles I managed to take a picture that was awarded a second prize, a set of M232 lights :). After mounting them in March the kids were already loving them, and we didn't even cycle yet. The first ride was a long one and the entire roadside was just lighting up, all colours of the rainbow were reflecting from the snow. Since then we seem to have a "disco bike".

 

 

Contest winner

  Action shot in the snow

Are there any links you would like us to share with our readers?

Instagram
Urban Arrow
 

I'd like to share some of the deliberations I went through that are behind buying a cargo bike as it was quite the investment and this might help others make the same decision!

 

CAR VERSES BIKE
We used to drive between 100-200km per week just in town. Mostly driving the kids to daycare and go to the grocery store. The town we live in is relatively small and we live close to the centre. By bike I'm able to go pretty much anywhere in town within 30 minutes. So our town is pretty ideal for leaving the car be and using a bike in stead. Using a bike brings the following advantages:

  • I'm way more active than before
  • we're outside much more
  • much better interaction with the kids
  • no more hassle putting on the seat belts
  • shorter distances
  • no more searching for parking space, paying for parking or getting parking tickets. I can now drop my bike next to the shop doors 🙂
  • grabbing the bike and heading out is so much faster in winter time because I don't have to clear the snow off, warm it in advance or scratch the ice off the windows
  • we suspend the car for multiple weeks in a row which saves huge amounts of money on road taxes and insurance
  • no need to fuel up on fossil fuels (big reduction in carbon footprint)
  • less kilometres means less maintenance costs on the car
  • a bike brings so much more joy than driving a car
  • last but not least the bike pays itself back easily within 5 years if we do not use the car inside town

 

 

TRAILER VERSES CARGO BIKE
This one took some effort, I sought to see what other peoples opinions on the issue were and I drew the following conclusions.

It seemed that the advantage of a trailer is that you can:

  • decouple it and use it on multiple different bikes (although it would require us to buy both 2 good electric bikes and a trailer)
  • easily zip it up to keep the kids dry
  • transport 2 kids
  • haul 80kg max.

 

With a cargo bike on the other hand you can:

  • comfortably transport 3 kids (5 when jam packed)
  • drag 150kg load (I can easily haul 3 kids and a week worth of groceries in one go)
  • have the kids in front which makes interaction possible (try talking to them in a trailer and keeping an eye on the road at the same time)
  • keep an eye on the kids so that they don't misbehave and correct them if need be without stopping
  • easily stop and point out nice sights along the way (clouds, birds, squirrels, reindeer, santa)
  • peel a banana for them while on the move
  • don't have to worry how much length you have behind you (when crossing the road)
  • narrower than a trailer (for 2 wheeled cargo bikes)
  • can still add a trailer for skis, sleds or a canoe

 

Arctic Circle

 


 

We'd like to thank Finn for sharing so much wonderful information about himself, cargo bikes, and Northern life!

 

 

If you'd like to share your story, please send an email to chloe @ monkeylectric . com

Enjoy!

The Results Are In!

 

 

We sent a survey out to our Kickstarter backers in order to gather information about common wheel types. We received data from 96 different survey participants. We hope this information will give us some insight on ways to design our lights to fit most riders' wheels. Here are the results!

 

What is the size (diameter) of your bicycle wheel?

 

 

 

Nearly half of respondents indicated that they ride with 700c (Standard road) wheels.  13.5% ride with 26" (standard mountain bike) wheels, 11.5% ride with 29er (some cross-country mountain bike) wheels, 10.4% ride with 20" (some folding bikes and kids bikes), and 9.4% of respondents indicated other wheel size.

The least popular wheel sizes appear to be 16" wheels, 650 (B or C) wheels, and 24" wheels.

 

What is your rim type?

 

 

The vast majority of respondents, 80.9% state that they ride wheels with standard size rims. 13.8% ride wheels with deep rims and the remaining 5% indicate "Other."

 

How many spokes are on your wheel?

 

 

Almost 40% of survey participants state that they ride wheels with 32 spokes. One fourth of those people ride wheels with 36 spokes and almost 15% ride wheels with 28 spokes.

The least popular spoke counts in this survey are 20 spoke wheels, 40 spoke wheels, and 48 spoke wheels.

 

What type of spokes are on your wheels?

 

 

Nearly all respondents, over 87%, claim to ride with standard (rounded spokes).  10.8% ride with bladed (flat) spokes and the remaining respondents selected "other."

 

What kind of spoke lacing do your wheels have?

 

 

Almost half of respondents have wheels with 2-cross lacing, 36% have wheels with 3-cross lacing, 8% have radial lacing, and the rest indicate "other."

 

 

It’s been a rainy January here in the Bay Area.  John had no problems rolling through some water at Berkeley Aquatic Park with his waterproof M232s.

Bike lights that can handle “100% Playa Mud”. Burning man playa dust proof, waterproof, mudproof, and iceproof lights.

 

100% Playa Mud

Help us make our next-generation lights a reality so that it’s even easier to be visible while cycling.  Back our Kickstarter campaign today.

waterproof and ice proof

We stand behind our waterproof claims.. if you ever have a problem with your lights, they are covered by our generous warranty.  Our next series of lights will have a 3-year warranty!

These lights are built to withstand the elements.  Back our Kickstarter project today.