CycleWorks Bike Shop

Ben Madary of CycleWorks in Lake Jackson, Texas recently reached out to us, inquiring about our Cat Rainbow Butt Limited Edition M232s.  We wanted to know more about his shop, and he happily answered some of our questions.

A lot of folks think it'd be cool to run their own shop one day.  How’d you get into running a bike shop?

CycleWorks Bike Shop

I learned to work on bikes as a kid. I worked at our local bike shop when I was 14-15 years old and learned how to work on bikes then. I always dreamt of owning a bike shop one day and my awesome wife helped me make it a reality.

How did she help you make it happen?

She worked full time as a nurse which allowed us to utilize her health insurance while I went back to school to get my business degree.  She was the one who encouraged me to quit my full time job to do something I loved. I had gotten to a point in my previous career, where stress had me sick significantly more than I have ever been in my life. It had also led to me gaining about 20 pounds.

Our bike wheel lights are definitely not traditional.  What makes your shop unique?

CycleWorks Bike Shop

We try to do things a little differently, we focus heavily on our community and its needs. Our staff helped start a local weekly social ride that helps riders get into cycling in a non-threatening casual environment. We get anywhere between 10-40 riders weekly that do the social ride and they are always doing fun themed rides.

We also partner with a local college to get students who need transportation onto bikes that have been donated to our store. So far we’ve gotten around 20 bicycles into the program.

We have a 3x7 foot table on the sales floor where anyone is welcome to come in and hang out, eat their lunch, have a cup of our coffee or just read a book. Had a guy in today who hung out and worked on a college project.

Why do your customers buy Monkey Lights?

Monkey Lights at Cycleworks

Many of our customers who buy monkey lights have seen them on a bike during the social rides and had to have them. We also sell them as a great safety item. During the short daylight hours of fall/winter, its a great way to be able to go riding at night and still be seen.

Tell us a bit about your shop’s community.

CycleWorks Bike Shop

We have a vast array of people in our shop daily, from people who utilize their bikes as their only mode of transportation by choice, also by necessity, to avid road and triathlete riders, to families who just want to get out and ride their bikes together. We try to make everyone fall in love with cycling as adults like they did as kids. Our community has rallied around us since we opened almost 2.5 years ago and they continue to support us and we are incredibly thankful they choose to.

Thank you, Ben, for taking the time to answer some of our questions.

If you've got a story to share, we'd love to hear from you.  Please get in touch!

Holiday Giveaway: 6 Rechargeable Monkey Lights and $250 worth of casual gear from SFC

Scroll down to view the entry form.

Note: You must reside in one of the following countries to enter: USA, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

You must be 18 or older to enter.

Can't wait?  Monkey Lights are also for sale.  So is SFC's awesome gear.

2x M232R Limited Edition: Pink Donut

2x M232R Limited Edition: Pink Donut



The pink donut M232R is our latest in our new series of custom M232Rs. For each release, we manufacture a short run of lights with a special pattern or theme.

A M232 or M232R normally comes with 42 built-in themes.  One of the themes is the Monkey Light logo.  In this limited-edition light, the Monkey Light logo has been replaced by a pink (or white) donut.  The color of the icing can be toggled by pressing the color button while the donut theme is selected.

Regular Monkey Lights are available in your local bike shop or online, while these limited-edition offerings will only be sold on our web shop.

We’ve gotten a few questions, so here’s the FAQ so far:

Do lights in stores or elsewhere online have the custom patterns?

Unfortunately not, the limited-edition lights are only currently available in our web shop.

Do these lights still show other patterns?

Yes, the “normal” patterns: hearts, skulls, lightning, fireballs, and so on, are still installed in the light.  Press the Theme button to change patterns.

Do you still have the Earth lights available?

The Earth lights were our previous limited-edition offering.  They’re sold out.  We may re-release them in the future, but we don’t have plans to do so currently.

Win one of 6 rechargeable Monkey Lights in our Summer giveaway!

Scroll down to view the entry form.

Note: You must reside in one of the following countries to enter: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and United States

You must be 18 or older to enter.

Can't wait?  They're also for sale.

There is a whole lot of food waste in the U.S., and a huge incidence of food insecurity, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods. Denver Food Rescue has stepped into this chasm and is working towards a world in which race, geography and income do not determine a person’s health. DFR is a small non-profit organization that collects high quality produce from grocery stores, farmers markets, etc. and redistributes it (all on bicycles,for the most part!) to community groups throughout the Denver area. Their chief fundraising event is the Food Rescue Ride, a casual and costumed bicycle ride through Cherry Creek State Park. This year it falls on Saturday, August 25. Riders can choose their challenge: a 15 or 30 mile course, with or without a 100 pound trailer, and are encouraged to come dressed as their “favorite fruit or vegetable.”

You can register here!

The ride will kick off at 9:00am after a breakfast of bagels and coffee from Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen and Pablo’s Coffee (the breakfast will start at 8). A lunch party featuring beers from Ratio Beerworks will ensue post-ride as well! DFR is giving away two rechargeable Monkey Lights, an M210R and an M232R during the festivity.

We spoke with Amy Moore-Shipley, Denver Food Rescue’s Development and Marketing Coordinator, to learn more about DFR and the plight of food waste and distribution.

How did Denver Food Rescue come about?

DFR was born out of Boulder Food Rescue when their founders saw a TON of fresh produce was being thrown away at grocery stores. Yet 1 in 6 Coloradans are food insecure and lack access to fresh healthy food. BFR realized more fresh produce could be saved if it was redistributed directly from the food donor to a food recipient organization – instead of going to a warehouse to be sorted and then sent back out to recipients. And to keep financial and environmental costs low, bicycles and trailers were used for food rescue!

Can you explain your mission?

Our mission to increase health equity is an attempt to get deeper to the root of food insecurity. We know there is enough food – we throw away a 1/3 of what is produced! But what we don’t have are living wages for families to pay the bills AND purchase healthy food for their families – it can be a struggle to even buy food – and the food that is accessible for free or at a low cost is often highly processed, low nutrient dense foods that cause illness! We believe that healthy food should be available to all regardless of your zip code, race, or class.

What astounds you the most about food distribution?

The politics of food rescue and food banks. Check out a book called Big Hunger by Andrew Fisher. He exposes corporate ties to the hunger movement and Feeding America and addresses why food insecurity hasn’t change in America the last 50 years even though record amounts of food is being donated and distributed.

What do you think are 3 easy things people can do to prevent food from going to waste?

1. Don’t buy too much food! Plan your meals and try to go to the grocery store every couple of days — but this is a privilege!
2. Learn how to use all parts of a food item e.g. the proverbial carrot top pesto or saving veggie scraps in the freezer for broth – learn how preserve and use all food that comes your way.
3. Compost.

Photo courtesy Denver Food Rescue

How many people work for your non-profit? What’s a day in the life like at DFR?

We have 5 staff members. We all share a one room office in the historic Five Points neighborhood. We’re either working hard on our own individual projects or deep in conversations on food politics, race & class, or what we’re doing in our free time. It’s pretty hard core family vibes around here where we support and lift one and other up.

What are you looking forward to most about the Denver Food Rescue Ride?

The party and awesome vendors – great food and drinks and prizes and community!

What are your goals for the event?

That we continue to lay the foundation for an inclusive event for all levels of cyclists that continues for many years to come and becomes a noteworthy Denver event.

What kind of turnout do you expect?

We hope to double our riders this year to 200!

What’s the biking scene like in Denver?

Well mountain biking and cycling outside of city limits is robust but within city limits I’d say we need safer and more bike lanes and we need to work on relations between riders and cyclists ‘cause tensions can be high!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

That I am working for a nonprofit fighting against the non-profit industrial complex and traditional anti-hunger movements.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Support radical, grassroots, community led organizations in your town! Also bikes rule – especially bikes with illuminated wheels. 🙂

Thank you, Amy and the Denver Food Rescue for your efforts. Keep making the magic happen and have a very mirthful ride!

Maker Faire Bay Area is a really great opportunity to show off the interactive technology that we’ve been working on.  It’s also a trill to see and hear about new ideas from attendees and Maker exhibits.

Here’s what caught our attention:

TapGlo Ping Pong

We’re a little biased because they were our booth neighbors, but what a cool take on the ping pong game.  This special light-up table can sense where a ball lands and can change the color of squares accordingly.  You can then play games where you try to hit the ball onto certain areas of your opponent’s side of the table.  A funny side effect was that dozens of ping pong balls ended up in our booth, which we were happy to pass back over.  This was a hit with the crowd too.  We wish we had a chance to play more, but the lines were too long!

Check out their website.

Ritual Coffee

Maker Faire 2018: Ritual Coffee

Ritual is here every year with their fabulous Sputnik coffee trailer, keeping us caffeinated during our long days at the show.  Drip, cold brew, lattes, and espresso all from one of the best coffee roasters out there.

Furrion Exo-Bionics Mech

Maker Faire 2018: The Furrion Mech

Totally didn’t expect to see anything so crazy this year.  The human pilot on this Furrion mech gave walking a go for the first time on asphalt.  We watched it lurch forward with hesitant, massive, and suspense-filled baby steps.  The mech mirrors movement of the human pilot, so there’s a huge learning process involved, which we had the opportunity to view real-time.

LED Luminescent Grand Piano

Robot dance party at #MakerFaire2018

A post shared by #LEDpiano (@luminescentgrand) on

The this light-art piano’s coolness was only exceeded by the talent of the piano players.  It was a pleasure to hear your music, William!  Thank you for Luminescent Grand!

Rabid Transit

Steampunk meets singed eyebrows.  Loud and fire-y and very unique.

Rock the Bike

A pedal-powered stage.  All of the power generated from Rock the Bike’s special bikes is transferred to the stage to keep the music coming!

Unusual Cards

Maker Faire 2018 - Unusual Cards

Pizza Jesus.  It’s always a pleasure to see these Unusual Cards.

Chronos Camera

Maker Faire 2018 - Chronos high-speed camera

The Chronos camera by Kron Technologies represents ultra-high speed photorgraphy made available to normal folks who can’t spend $18k on a camera.  They stopped by our booth and gave us a live demo of our Monkey Light Pro in slowmo.  Very cool.

Burn Hot Sauce


Aaron went by the Burn Hot Sauce booth, and seems really enthusiastic about their variety of organic, fermented hot sauces. He bought three different kinds and says his favorite is the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper sauce, but the Serrano and Golden Cayenne are also pretty great. The Agave spirit barrel-aged, fermented sauce apparently had a “really interesting flavor”, and he’ll probably check out their chili powders and pickles at some point.

Thanks for a great show!

It was a pleasure seeing all these other makers in action.  Until next year!

A little different

Maker Faire 2018 was a different experience this year. In the past, the dark room was set up in the larger Fiesta hall.  This year, we were located in Redwood hall.  It’s quite a bit smaller.  The vibe was a little different, but we had a grand time as usual with our interactive exhibits: The Selfie Bike, The Speed Bike, and Draw on the Wheel.

We felt a little caged in with the chain-link, but got along just fine at our booth.  The show got off to a somewhat humorous start when the electrical contractor cut the overhead lights and power.  No big deal though.  Fifteen minutes later, we were back in business.

Selfie Bike

Our Selfie bike was powered by one Monkey Light Pro and a bike on a trainer, and an implementation of our API for the Monkey Light Pro.  We transferred photos from an iPad to a Macbook for image processing and then sent the images over to the Monkey Light Pro via Bluetooth.  We took photos of volunteers in the crowd, and then they got the unique opportunity to see their face lit up on a bike wheel in full-color LEDs.

Our “normal” bike lights

We also put our M204, M210, and M232 on our wheel spinners for full display.  We brought along our new USB rechargeable battery pack, which was funded via Kickstarter, and is now a reality thanks to Kickstarter backers.  We also displayed our newest models, the M204R, M210R, and M232R.

Draw on the wheel

Our Draw on the Wheel exhibit is a great one for kids: They can draw their own art on a paper wheel, and once again, using our API, we put their image into a spinning bike wheel.  We scan the image with a standard flatbed scanner, then do some image processing, and then run a Perl script to send images up to the wheel.

Speed bike

Maker Faire 2018: Speed Bike

Our newest exhibit was the speed bike, which featured the first public debut of a prototype A15 light.  This is one of the lights from our most recent Kickstarter, and is still in its development.  The light turns on automatically when the wheel spins, and can change colors depending on how fast you are riding.  While their kids were pedaling, some parents joked about this being the only way to get them some exercise!  These lights are not available yet.  When they are, Kickstarter backers will get first dibs, and then we’ll make it available to the general public.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for visiting our booth, if you were able!  It’s always great to share our experience with our lights and to share some good conversation with you all!

The R-series

We're excited to launch an upgrade to our bicycle wheel lights.   We call them the "R-series". The M204R, M210R, and M232R are the same great Monkey Lights you may already know but with an important upgrade: a USB Rechargeable battery.


Even more convenient but still waterproof and durable

When you're ready to charge, simply unscrew the waterproof cap, pull out the battery capsule, and plug it into a micro-USB cable and your power supply of choice or computer.

Charge time is about 3-5 hours.


Look for in a local store

Or buy one online.

(currently available in the USA and UK)


AAs to stay

We're still making the M204, M210 and M232 with the standard AA batteries if that's what you prefer. Sometimes having the option of AA batteries is more convenient because they're easier to buy at a local store if you're out and about, or because you already have a number of AA batteries at home.

The best of both worlds

If you're unsure which light you want, you can always buy an M204, M210 or M232 and upgrade on your own by purchasing the USB-rechargeable battery as an add on.

Alice rides to work all year in Syracuse, New York: the snowiest city in the USA.

She decided she needed a change, and used cycling to change her life. Watch the video below, and then read our full interview with her.

K. Alice Fox cycles year round, even in the depths of winter. Considering she’s up in Syracuse, the snowiest city in America, it’s quite a feat. She caught our attention with a Facebook post of her fat bike sporting a set of M232s, the lights playing on the surrounding snow. Intrigued by the image and the associated story, we sought an interview with this resilient cyclist.

“Light the way, Goliath” by K. Alice Fox

“I was so excited to have both wheel lights that I braved 17F and blowing lake-effect snow to try them out. My commute includes a one-mile steady grade hill that overlooks a quarry, and I stopped to snap a photo because the lights looked so pretty against the snow and sunrise.” 

Photo  courtesy  K. Alice Fox

What’s the best thing about Syracuse?

The snow!!!! Haha, I’m not sure it’s the BEST thing, but it’s what we do best up here. Every year, we are typically the winner of the Golden Snowball award, and our seasonal average is 124″ (10.3 feet of snow every winter). So, if you like snow, Syracuse is the place to be. Apart from the famous winter weather, we are a sanctuary city and boast many refugees/New Americans from various places. We also have some pretty amazing small, local businesses- bike shops, coffee shops, craft breweries, restaurants and co-ops- that make me proud to be a Syracusan.

Why do you cycle?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved bikes. I had a Big Wheel that I literally rode into the ground. I can’t think of a single summer day of my childhood that didn’t involve a bicycle. After moving from Maryland to Central New York in 2001, I stopped cycling because I wasn’t used to the harsh climate (cold summers, colder winters). Well, I learned quickly that if you want to thrive– not just survive– in Central New York, you HAVE to have a winter sport because it’s snowing seven months out of the year up here! I decided to revive my love of cycling and bought my first serious road bike in 2007 (Terry Isis Pro named Ruffian). I started commuting to work (7 mile round trip), even on the nicer days in the winter, and quickly became obsessed. Three years and 50 pounds later, I was feeling great and loving the lifestyle. I actually made a movie about my weight loss journey.

When did you get into Fat Bikes and how?

I bought my Surly Pugsley Necromancer (named Goliath) in 2013 during Winter Storm Nemo. Having endured several Central New York winters, I was tired of spinning on my indoor trainer on those bad-weather snowy days (of which there were many) and decided to bite the bullet and ride in the snow. Why not? I had seen one at my local bike shop (Mello Velo, Syracuse NY) and fell in love. I literally rode it home in a snow storm, smiling and laughing the entire way. It felt like being a kid again! That, and the wide tires make handling bad roads a breeze. It’s like having winter tires for your car (which are awesome and a must-have for us Prius drivers). Being outside any time of the year beats being on a stationary trainer in the basement! There’s only so much Netflix you can binge while spinning…

Photo courtesy  K. Alice Fox

What do you like about biking in the snow?

There is nothing quite as peaceful as an early morning ride in a gently falling snow. Everything is calm, still, and coated in white. When I leave the house in the morning for work, it’s typically very early so there are few cars. It’s just me and my bike, the sound of the snow falling and crunching under my tires. This effect is made even more beautiful when the sun is just about to come up, and my bike literally glows from all of my lights. I have a super-bright headlight and tail light; and of course, the M232s on both front and rear tires. You should see how magical it looks when those LEDs are bouncing off of a snow bank! Now….this is Syracuse, so there are many mornings when it’s snowing like mad, it’s -30F with the windchill, the wind is blowing so hard I have to keep pedaling or risk moving backwards, and my ski goggles literally freeze to my face. Not a huge fan of those, but I always somehow keep going and order my iced coffee all the same (beverage of choice year-round from my local coffee shop, Cafe Kubal.)

Do you have any cycling goals?

My two current cycling goals are: 1. to ride as much as possible, and 2. to get home safely every day. I’m a Star Trek fan and say a slightly modified Klingon expression every time I leave the house: “Today is a good day to ride!” The “safely” part is where you guys come in. I have never felt as safe on my bike as I have when I installed the M232s on both front and rear tires. Cars slow down. I’ve even had drivers pull over to tell me how awesome they are. So, you guys are definitely helping me with my goal of coming home safely every day!

What are you looking forward to most about springtime?

Not having to clean the road salt off of my bike every time I ride! I’m also looking forward to riding my little road bike more. I literally have the David and Goliath of bikes. Goliath, the huge 50 pound steel bike and “David” (her name is actually Ruffian) is a 15 pound steel road racer 🙂 Talk about polar opposites! On any given day, though, you will see me on the fat bike, mostly because it’s more challenging to ride.

How does your cycling activity change throughout the year?

I commute to work every day of the week (11 miles round trip) and go for longer rides on weekends year-round. What changes throughout the year are the bikes I ride and the amount of clothing I wear. I currently have three: Goliath (fat bike), Ruffian (steel road racer), and Zenyatta (carbon fancy bike). I’m on the fat bike primarily August-May, then the two racy bikes in the summer/early fall. As far as clothing goes, I wear anywhere from one to five layers depending on the weather. You know it’s a cold one when I have three layers of socks alone…Oh, and in the spring, I tend to switch out my kilt for a tutu. I like being visible out there!

Photo courtesy K. Alice Fox

Because we are curious monkeys, what led you to Monkey Lights?

In late 2016, I had an incident on the road that prompted me to up my lighting game. My rear light had failed and I didn’t even know it, and was almost hit from behind. I leave the house quite early in the morning, which in December means I’m riding in complete darkness. I decided from then on that I wasn’t taking ANY risks. I had seen an ad about your lights on a Facebook post and was immediately wowed. I purchased my rear set first and LOVED them. I was totally impressed by how many different patterns there are and how incredibly bright they are! I don’t even use the highest setting and they still dazzle! I decided after a few months that I just had to have a set for my front wheel. Now I’m fully lit from any direction.

You have the M232s, right? Do you have a favorite pattern or do you ride random?

Yep, the M232s on both front and rear. I tend to set both to the same pattern, but sometimes I mix it up. I currently have #41, which I think is my favorite. I also really like #9 and #14.

Pattern #41  Solar Delight

Where do you get your cycling gear– do you have a favorite bike shop?

For cycling gear, I’m a huge fan of Twin Six in Minneapolis. Their designs rock, and I think I now have 17 of their t-shirts and at least a dozen of their jerseys. I also have a tattoo that I took from one of their designs. Surly (also Minneapolis) is another favorite, and I can find their stuff at my local go-to bike shops, Mello Velo and Syracuse Bicycle. As far as the gear I ride in, I tend to find the essentials at my local thrift shop, and I really like military surplus for jackets and such. I recently acquired a leather riding vest from a record/vintage shop in Rochester.

I understand you studied horticulture in school, what inspired you to pursue that field of study?

I started out in Communication Arts (Journalism, Spanish) for undergrad, but had always loved plants and nature in general. I started working at Cornell in 2001 as an admin/web designer in the Plant Pathology Department, and was essentially immersed in plant research. I decided to pursue a master’s degree while working full time, which I completed in 7 years. I decided on horticulture, but really fell in love with science, especially being the greenhouses and playing mad scientist in the lab. I landed a lab tech position with a coevolution lab at Syracuse University, and was working in both a greenhouse and lab which was pretty much heaven. Our funding ran out, though, so I was forced to move on. That’s when I found my current job.

Do you have a favorite garden? Can you describe it?

It’s a toss-up between Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania and the Jardin Botanique in Montreal. Both are absolutely stunning. They both have sprawling arboreta which you could spend an entire day walking, as well as indoor conservatories with beautiful themed areas (desert plants, etc).

Now you work at the Fish and Wildlife Disease Lab a SUNY ESF — what’s that like?

Today is actually my two year anniversary in the Fish and Wildlife Disease Genetics Lab at SUNY-ESF. I am the Senior Research Support Specialist and Lab Manager, so I am in charge of my own projects as well as the general running of the lab (supplies, students, etc). Many of my projects involve molecular techniques- DNA extraction, cloning, fingerprinting, sequencing- of various wildlife species and their parasites. I’m also now our main fish facility caretaker, which currently has about 500 zebrafish housed in our aquatic lab. I’m currently training for a Zebrafish Husbandry License, which covers everything from fish care to fish diseases. A typical day for me involves working in our fish lab, running PCR for DNA analysis, helping students with various aspects of their project (training molecular techniques, etc), and data analysis.

What research projects are you working on now?

We typically have at least half a dozen projects running at once. My long term project that I have been working on since I started two years ago is DNA fingerprinting of cottontail rabbits. We are trying to determine where and how many of a particular threatened species of rabbit there are, and we do this through genetic analysis. As of today, I’ve actually completed fingerprinting 1,000 rabbits! Another rabbit-related project I’ve just completed is DNA sequencing of rabbit parasites. This actually involved cloning and then sequencing DNA to determine which parasites each rabbit had, so it was really involved (and really fun). I’m currently working on a fish parasite project with a student, looking parasite transmission in fish without its require host; identifying myxozoan parasites of fish from Vietnam, and DNA testing deer samples for chronic wasting disease. The variety of work is great: it keeps me busy and interested!

What inspires you and motivates you, generally speaking?

What motivates and inspires me most is being told I can’t do something, then not only doing it but totally destroying it. When I started cycling again after putting on a ton of weight, people would routinely pass me in cars and yell terrible insults at me. I didn’t give up. Not only did my “thunder thighs” get me up those hills, they thundered me to a healthier, 50-pounds-lighter, happier me. When people told me that cycling through Syracuse winter was “%$#$% insane,” I did it five years in a row and counting through some pretty awful (typical) winter conditions. So yeah, I guess what inspires/motivates me is not just proving people wrong, but making myself proud by making it as badass a victory as possible. Maybe I’m part Klingon after all!

Do you identify with any particular non-human animal?

When I’m on my bike screaming down a hill at 60mph, it’s hard not to feel like some awesome bird of prey going in for a kill. I’m an avid hawk watcher (we have a family of red-tails on our campus), so I’m gonna go with red-tailed hawk  I also identify with foxes for obvious reasons.

A red-tailed hawk–  photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just a “thank you” for making such an awesome product! My lights have gotten me through two winters now, never failing. It’s just so nice to be able to turn them on and know  they’re going to stay on and keep me visible. Not to mention, they’re super cool and make my bike look even more awesome. 😀 Seriously, though, it can be very dangerous out there on the road, especially near campus (lots of students texting, speeding and driving). The lights get a lot of attention, and I get to meet one of my daily goals: to get home safely.

A collage by K. Alice Fox

Thank you for giving us this inspirational glimpse into your life, Alice! Today is indeed a good day to ride!