The Original Monkey Light is a revolutionary bike light that keeps you visible. It features 32 of the brightest full color LEDs available, and cutting edge visual effects designed by our electronic artists. It is now discontinued to make way for our second generation lights. The Monkey Light sets a new standard for bike lighting with outstanding visibility and a rugged, practical design made for daily use in all weather conditions. It’s easy to mount on the spokes of nearly any bike wheel – Road, City, Cruiser, Mountain and BMX bikes.
The Monkey Light provides great visibility at any speed, and it creates full color patterns on your spinning bike wheel. The digital effects are instantly customizable – with on-board buttons you can choose the colors, patterns and mood to fit any situation. The light is perfect for bike commuters, urban cyclists, evening rides and more. Anyone that rides at night or in the rain and needs to be visible.
- Amazing digital light effects by 3 different artists
- Generates thousands of constantly changing patterns and colors
- Instantly customizable colors, patterns and activity to fit any situation
- 32 Full color, wide angle, ultra-bright LEDs provide nearly 360-degree visibility
- 7 mounting positions fit nearly any Road, Mountain, Cruiser, City, Hybrid or BMX bike wheel
- Rugged construction designed for daily use and wet weather
- Clear hardcoat over all LEDs keep the lights fully waterproof for the deepest puddles
- Vibration-proof 3-point mounting system installs in minutes
- High strength fiber composite construction withstands rough riding
- Hook & loop battery strap keeps batteries secure and easy to replace
- Environment friendly construction: Lead-free & RoHS compliant.
- Only 65 grams without batteries
- Lasts up to 30 hours on 3 x AA batteries, rechargeables provide best performance
- Size: 160mm x 110mm x 22mm (6.3” x 4.3” x 0.85”)
- Lighted length: 150mm (6.0”)
- Visibility: night, dusk, cloudy, indoors.
- Weight: 65g without batteries
- Power: 3 x AA batteries (any type), NiMH rechargeable provide best performance
- Battery life: 4-6 hours in high-brightness mode, 15-30 hours in high-efficiency mode
- Output power: 2.5 Watt peak
- Recommended riding speed: 10 to 30 mph (15 to 50 km/h)
- Fit: any spoked bicycle wheel size 20” or larger, with between 16 and 40 spokes. Many other wheels
- can be fit as well.
- Structure: 100% high strength fiber composite with clear hardcoat over LEDs
- Mounting: vibration-proof 3-point mount system with 4mm thick solid rubber dampers, mounts with
- standard 5mm nylon zip-ties.
- Rugged construction designed for daily use and wet-weather
- Tip is fully submersible for deep puddles
- Rubber battery cover protects batteries from rain (wet storage not recommended)
- Lead-free RoHS compliant construction
- 32 tri-color (full color) ultra-bright LEDs – 16 on each side
- Super-wide-angle 150-degree half-brightness, near 360-degree overall visibility
- Graphics synthesizer system
- 12mhz microcontroller with 16Kb flash memory, 1Kb SRAM
- 9 parameterized display functions, with thousands of unique output patterns
- 16 user-selectable colors, 64 total colors
- EEPROM for permanent storage of user settings
Q: How many Monkey Lights do you recommend using?
A: We recommend either 1 or 2 units on a wheel. Just one looks great!
Q: Does it come pre-configured for the best graphics?
A: Yes! The Monkey Light comes pre-set from the factory to display all patterns and all colors. You can use the on-board control buttons if you want to change it to display only certain colors, or certain patterns, or different activity levels. The control buttons let you reconfigure in seconds anytime, anywhere – after a bit of experimentation the printed tip sheet is rarely needed.
Q: How bright and visible is it?
A: Very! Check out the photos in the Monkey Light gallery – notice the spread of light on the pavement on either side of the wheels. There are 32 full color ultra-bright LEDs on the Monkey Light, its much brighter than most front and rear bike lights. The graphics patterns are highly visible at dusk, at night, and in cloudy conditions or indoors. The patterns are not visible in direct sunlight.
Q: How does it attach to my bike? Is it easy to install?
A: It attaches to the spokes with 3 standard cable ties. It takes about 5 minutes to install. Install diagrams and photos are included in the box, and we also have an install slideshow online with many examples.
Q: Will it fit my bike?
A: It fits all common bike wheels found on Road, Mountain, BMX, Cruiser and City bikes. Specifically: any spoked bike wheel 20″ and larger, with between 18 and 40 spokes. Many other wheels can be fit as well if you are a little creative. For example – very low spoke-count wheels and “Mag” wheels can sometimes be fit if you supply long zip-ties or rope. Wheels with a great many spokes can sometimes be fit with the Monkey Light on the outside of the spokes (possibly with extra rubber spacers), or by removing a spoke during installation and replacing it after.
Q: What does it look like when riding? Do the patterns fill the whole wheel?
A: It varies depending on how fast your bike is going, and how many Monkey Lights you have. The effects are designed to look good at a wide range of speeds, even when they don’t fill the entire wheel. With one Monkey Light: The patterns appear at about 8mph (12km/h) in a section of the wheel. As you go faster an increasing amount of the wheel is filled with graphics, at about 20mph (32km/h) the graphics fill the entire wheel. With two Monkey Lights: The patterns still appear at about 8mph (12km/h), but now in two sections of the wheel at once. As you go faster the whole wheel is filled with patterns at about 12mph (20km/h). Below 8mph (12km/h) the row of LEDs on the Monkey Light is very bright and visible going around the wheel, and the lights and colors on it change and move all the time. If you rarely bike above this speed you can configure low activity level settings which will give you several choices for the moving colors and lights you will see as you ride – it still looks great!
Q: Can I use it on a motorcycle or car?
A: No, it is not designed structurally for speeds above 30mph.
Q: Can I use it on a wheelchair, baby stroller, or other slow-moving wheel?
A: Yes, if you can find a way to mount it. The length of the device is about 160mm (6.5″) – so your wheel needs to be at least 200mm (8″) diameter. You may be able to mount the unit across the middle of a small wheel. The Monkey Light has 10 slots which fit a standard zip-tie, giving you a bit of mounting flexibility. The mounting slots can also be drilled for screws if needed (this will void your warranty).
Q: Is it environmental?
A: Yes! As an electronics and product designer and manufacturer we are comitted to being a leader in environmental design and awareness. The Monkey Light is manufactured using a lead-free process and conforms to the EU RoHS standard. In addition, our all-weather construction does not use a cheap plastic enclosure, reducing overall waste volume when disposed. We also designed the Monkey Light to take best advantage of NiMH rechargeable batteries, they will provide greater light output and similar lifetime to non-rechargeables. We also hope the Monkey Light will make you want to ride your bike more! Every mile you ride instead of driving is perhaps the biggest environmental contribution you can make.
Q: Will it make my wheel off balance?
A: It can. Our more casual test riders can’t tell the difference when riding. As with any product you attach to your bike wheel or bike – it can affect the handling especially at high speeds. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the handling of your bike after installing the Monkey Light. Any imbalance is more noticeable on high-performance lightweight wheels, and at faster riding speeds. If this is important to you there are a couple things you can do: (1) mount the Monkey Light closer to the hub of the wheel – this will dramatically reduce any imbalance, (2) remove the batteries when you are not using it. the bare unit is only 65g, the batteries usually add another 100g. (3) mount a second Monkey Light, or similar weight, on the opposite side of the wheel.
Q: Is it durable? Can it handle daily riding and bad weather? Can it handle mountain biking?
A: YES! The Monkey Light was designed and tested from the start for daily use, bad weather and rough riding. Instead of using a cheap plastic case we developed a rugged IP55 rated construction – built to last. We started with a high strength fiber composite mounting plate and used that for the entire structure of the device. We coated the LEDs with a waterproof clear hardcoat, and used an extra layer of matrix fiber over the electronics – all the electronics are literally embedded into the fiber composite construction. Then we developed our 3-point vibration-proof mounting system featuring custom 5mm thick solid 40A rubber shock-mounts, all strapped to the spokes with standard UV-resistant zip-ties that can’t jiggle loose. Lastly the batteries are protected by a waterproof rubber cover and strapped in with a double-sided hook-and-loop strap – secure yet with easy access. But don’t take our word for it – check out the wet-weather photos in the Monkey Light gallery. The end of the Monkey Light can be submerged in deep puddles, and if it gets covered with dirt you can hose it off no problem (remove batteries first). Please keep in mind the Monkey Light is rain proof, but if stored outdoors in wet environments the batteries and battery holder may corrode.
Q: How do I prevent it from getting stolen?
A: For use in high crime areas, we recommend replacing one of the plastic mounting straps with a steel wire. Check out our anti-theft strap instructions: Anti-Theft Strap
Q: If I put two units on a wheel, will the effects be coordinated?
A: Two units do not synchronize with each other. Some combinations of patterns look amazing while others may just look muddled – its up to you to experiment with the graphics settings! At slower speeds the effects from the two units will not overlap visually. If you use two units at higher speeds – try simpler pattern settings so that when the patterns overlap it still looks sharp. There is a lot of flexibility in the effects so finding combinations that look good is easy.
Q: Can I create & download my own patterns from my computer?
A: No. The Monkey Light graphics synthesizer is very configurable using the on-board control buttons, but it does not support downloading text or bitmap graphics from a computer. If you are interested in a Do-It-Yourself project, we recommend the SpokePOV Kit from Adafruit. It is a kit project requiring you to solder all the electronics together yourself, when completed it allows you to download your own bitmap graphics and display them on your bike wheel. SpokePOV currently only supports single-color graphics, and does not have a graphics synthesizer – it only supports downloaded bitmap graphics.
Q: How long do the batteries last?
A: The Monkey Light uses 3 x AA batteries. It has two power settings: high efficiency mode lasts 15-30 hours, and high-brightness mode lasts 3-6 hours. NiMH rechargeable batteries provide best performance especially in the high-brightness mode. High efficiency mode lasts 4-5x longer but the visibility is still very good because the LEDs are more efficient at lower brightness.
Q: Will it work on a playa (alkaline desert)?
A: Yes. Our prototypes have been tested in playa conditions and survived in good condition. Cleaning: after return to civilization, spray all the dust off with a hose or faucet.
Q: How does it work?
A: The graphics display is based on the Persistence Of Vision (POV) effect of the human eye. The LEDs on the device are blinked very rapidly by the on-board computer. When the wheel rotates, this blinking is perceived by your eye as a complex graphical pattern. In order to see the effect the wheel must rotate faster than about 8-10mph (10-15km/h). The visibility of the graphics also depends on whether you are looking directly at the device – the eye’s persistence effect is more sensitive in the sides of the eye. At very slow speeds you may notice that you can see the effect only when you don’t look directly at it.
Q: Have I seen this before?
A: Maybe – Wheel lights have been around for several years, but the Monkey Light offers a much higher level of performance and functionality than any previous product. The Monkey Light is the only product offering full color, it also uses superior LEDs that are far brighter than anything else you may have seen. The Monkey Light is also the only product designed for the demands of all-weather daily urban cyclists, and it has practical controls to customize it and get the look and style you want.
Q: How did this product come about?
A: The idea for this type of lighting system has been around for a long time – however the technology to make a good implementation is recent. I’ve seen several one-off versions made by hardware hackers over the years, especially at the MITERS lab at MIT where it seems to be almost a coming-of-age ritual to build your own. Way back in 1994 I built a frisbee with integrated LED persistence of vision (POV) display – at the time it was cutting edge! There have also been commercial implementations of POV in clocks, fans, frisbees and wheels – almost all of them more toys and gadgets than practical, professional lighting systems. I was inspired by the earlier devices, and saw that the technologies had advanced a lot so it was possible to build a quality device with far better lighting and graphics effectiveness than anything that had come before – a device that would be practical for daily bike commuters and others. Of course I also had several new ideas to further enhance the device that nobody had tried previously. In 2005 I built my first prototype, it was at that time intended only as a one-off artwork. Riding it around the streets of Oakland and San Francisco, people would literally run down the street after me asking where they could buy it, sometimes crowds would just cheer unreserved as i passed by. In 2007 after the founding of Instructables and the other Squid Labs companies, I finally had time to start working on commercializing what has become the Monkey Light and m464q devices.
Q: Could this be powered by the energy from the spinning bike wheel?
A: Yes – but easier said than done. Hub-integrated generators are made by a few companies including Shimano, you can find them for sale on the web if you look around. They are fairly pricey (more than the cost of an Monkey Light). Connecting the hub-generator to the Monkey Light will take a bit of Do-It-Yourself ingenuity because all the ones we have seen have the output power wires on the non-rotating side of the generator, while the Monkey Light is on the spinning side of the generator. You will also need to add a 3.6V to 5V converter/regulator since most hub generators output either 6V or 12V, which will fry the Monkey Light if directly connected. The Monkey Light is most efficient running at 3.6 – 4.0V. Q: Where is the Monkey Light made? A: The Monkey Light is designed and developed by MonkeyLectric in California USA. The raw components are manufactured in several countries including China, USA, Taiwan, Maylasia and Japan. Final assembly of the product is in Mexico.
“Possibly the most eye-catching and awe-inducing bike accessory I’ve ever seen. Most bike lights focus on making sure the rider is seen, but these make sure you’re seen, cheered at, flagged down, and followed (in a good, fun way).”
– Christian Science Monitor (Boston) 2008-10-23
“Colorful LEDs transform bikes into art”
– Wired Gadget Lab 2008-05-03
“une véritable culture écolo-disco émerge autour de cet accessoire”
– LeMonde.fr (Paris) 2009-06-12
“I can attest to the durability of the Monkey Light. I commute every day in NYC and the Monkey Light has indured temperature extremes, snow, rain, wind, salt on the roads and has performed like an absolute champ.”
– Bikehacks.com (New York City) Full product review 2010-12-13
“Top 100 Christmas Presents 2008”
– Tech Digest (UK) 2008-11-26
– Il Sole 24 Ore (Milan) 2008-11-19
“c’est véritablement une innovation. Personnellement j’adore.”
– Weelz.fr (France) 2009-01-20
“love this inspired piece of bike art”
– Colorado Springs Gazette 2009-05-06
“Yeah, this thing is fun… I do feel safer and more visible. The light spreads nicely and reflects off the pavement as I ride, and from the side, the whirling lights on my wheel are unmissable.”
– Urban Cyclist (Full product review 2009-09-15)
“a car pulled up and then stayed just behind me for about 3/4 mile. They slowly pulled up alongside and this girl yells out the window – and this is a direct quote “we love the lightshow- you should just park it and charge admission!”
– BikeRubbish.com (Seattle) 2008-9-18
“I guarantee this thing will stand out like a road flare”
– examiner.com (Boston) 2009-02-19
“one of the sweetest products we’ve ever seen … anyone who looks your way will be treated to a digital light show”
– Cleveland.com / Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 2009-03-13
“They say they’re waterproof and they’re right. the first night I put them on there was a HUGE storm and I rode in some super heavy rain. at one point there was a puddle so deep cars couldn’t go through and there was a cab stalled in the middle. I was on a three-wheel bike so I went for it. I’m talking half my wheel under water and the lights were fine. … I even got asked by a cop at stoplight were I got them. you know they’re cool when a Chicago cop asks about them instead of yelling at you!!!”
– One Less Car (Chicago) 2008-10-15
“If you are concerned about cars not seeing you at intersections, the MonkeyLectric m132s is a remarkably bright wheel-based light set.”
– Bits and Bikes (Boston) 2008-05-24
“Get them wheels a spinning, round and round with some House music”
– Bike Hugger (Seattle) 2008-05-28
“These guys do a fantastic job lighting up the ground around you.”
– Cycleicious (San Francisco) 2008-05-23
“really bright and it really attracts attention”
– BikeCommuters.com (Los Angeles) 2008-07-29
“Visibility with these lights is quite astonishing, and the light is visible from the front and back as well as the sides.”
– BikeCommuters.com (Florida) 2008-10-2
“It made me giddy. I remember thinking to myself that this was a real gadget. It didn’t just temporarily fill a consumeristically produced void in my ego; it caused a genuine emotional reaction, like a pretty girl or a puppy, and that made my heart to quiver with fondness. I got all giggly. I wanted to share it with someone. So I ran upstairs, knocked on my neighbor’s door, and asked him if he’d bring his three-year old son outside. I spun the wheel for him: he sighed, giggled, then started wildly laughing and jumping up and down. His pupils glowed like plasma globes. I knew exactly how he felt: I was sharing the MonkeyLectric with the peer of my own inner child.”
– Boing Boing Gadgets (Berlin) 2008-07-29
“improve your chances of survival at night in the urban jungle”
– gearfuse 2008-05-19
2008-09-25: Live interview and short demo at Interbike 2008 with Bike Hugger.
2008-04-15: OhGizmo covered our Yuri’s Night performance (m464q footage only).
2008-04-13: Our Yuri’s Night performance was carried live nationwide on NASA TV, you can catch the (low quality) replay starting at 6:37:15. (m464q footage only)
2008-03-09: One of our prototypes is featured in a documentary by Brian Boyko – forward to 3:52 into the film to see it.
NOAH VAWTER – Noah creates sonic spaces, using his skills in electronic music instrument design. Noah explores, conceptually and aesthetically, the landscape between acoustic order and disorder. Noah?s work has been featured in the New York Times, the Sundance Film Festival, Wired magazine, IEEE Spectrum, and Discovery TV, and shown in Rio de Janeiro, New York City, and Los Angeles. He teaches workshops on music synthesizer design and audio art around the world. Noah is a Doctoral student at the MIT Media Lab.
XANDER HUDSON – After several years working in engineering and networking, Xander is now pursuing full time his mission of “making cool stuff”. Xander embodies the hacker artist and we’re glad he’s making cool stuff with us. His other works have been seen in Make and Instructables.com.
DAN GOLDWATER – Dan is the founder of MonkeyLectric, and he’s also one of our artists! Dan built the first MonkeyLectric prototype as an artwork long before there was any thought of selling it. Dan is an engineer by day, but at night he conspires in a variety of artistic media. His Rope & Sound interactive technology sculpture was featured at the Smithsonian and he has published several DIY art projects on Instructables.com. Previously, Dan was a scientist at the MIT Media Lab, and a founder of Squid Labs and Instructables.com.