Our M232 versus other bicycle wheel lights

We took a look at our M232 Monkey Light against other wheel-lighting options on the market. We wanted to see how they compare when lit up on a bicycle wheel.  We mounted all lights on the exact same motorized wheel and photographed the results. We wanted to be as impartial as possible, so each light was photographed under the exact same conditions and camera settings:

  • Shutter speed: 1/3 second
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Focal length: 40mm
  • ISO speed: 200

We did some processing in Adobe Lightroom to correct exposure, since there was a lot of variation in the amount of light that each wheel light produced.    We applied identical processing to each image, and then we turned those photos into an animated GIF.  You can see a little bit of the tire in each image, in the upper right hand corner, and depending on the amount of light produced, you can see more of our test setup, and the wall behind it.  We used 2 different spinning wheel displays, so if you pay close attention, you can see slight differences.  

Overall, we were really surprised at how much brighter our M232 is.  We see a ton of them every day, so maybe we have just gotten used to it.   Our M232 is fully waterproof, emits 200 lumens of light. The M232 has 42 unique themes, 5 shuffle settings, hundreds of color combinations, and will run up to 20 hours on a single charge. With 32 full-color LEDs, it provides 360-degree visibility for your bike.

-
John

 

M232 bike light animated gif

 

MonkeyLectric M232

M232 bike light animated gif

Hokey Spokes

Hokey Spokes animated GIF

Hokey Spokes

Hokey Spokes manufacturer description:

Hokey Spokes are unique bicycle safety lights that allow riders to display computer-generated images and text inside the spoke cages while riding at night. Not only are Hokey Spokes fun and interesting, but they also provide important side visibility, which is mostly unavailable in today's standard bicycle lights.

John's notes:

Mounting the Hokey Spokes was frustrating to me.  I had to use a Philips head on a loose bolt/retainer nut while mounted on a wheel and I had to hold the light in place at the same time.

There are 16 LEDs total, but they are mounted to shine on both sides. Each LED is a single color, so while there are green, red, yellow and blue LEDs, there is no color mixing. This really limited the types of patterns that the light could generate.  Also, The text was hard to read. You can program your own text, but you have to do this letter by letter, using one button to scroll through your choices.  Letters are represented by a 5 LED code.  You are also limited to 16 characters, including letters and spaces.   You need to do the programming while looking back and forth between bright LEDs and the code key on the box. This would be best programmed in daylight because trying to read the instructions in the dark after you just looked directly at a bright LED is problematic.


 

Hokey Spoke Package

MonkeyLectric M232

M232 bike light animated gif

Fantasma OWL Image Fun

Fantasma Owl Animated GIF

Fantasma OWL Image Fun BK-2071

Fantasma OWL Manufacturer Description:

  • Preprogrammed LED lights with 8 different themes
  • Showcase your design taste to friends
  • Last up to 20 hours

John's Notes:

One side of the light clips on to the spokes, while the other has a grooved plastic washer that slides along a track so that you can adjust it to your spokes.  The grooves on the washer are meant to grip the spoke, but they also happen to fit perfectly onto the ridges surrounding the adjustment track. This was initially confusing because the ridges on the track seem to serve no purpose other than to hold the washer in place, but that puts the ridges on the washer perpendicular to the spoke. I feel like more than one person worked on this design and they weren't talking to each other. In any case, the Fantasma OWL Image Fun BK-2071 ended up being one of the easier lights to mount compared to some of the other non-Monkey Lights. 

There is no way to change the patterns.  The light just randomly moves through a pre-programmed playlist. I felt like each pattern should have been given more more play time because I could hardly tell what one was before the other started. It's full color but lacks vibrancy.


 

MonkeyLectric M232

M232 bike light animated gif

LED Bike Spoke Light (orange diamond)

LED spoke bike light animated gif

LED Bike Spoke Light (orange diamond)

LED Bike Spoke Light Manufacturer Description:

LED Bike Spoke Light - shows Riding Time 40 Light Patterns

John's Notes:

This light mounts with two short metal bands that are held with two screws each.  The battery compartment is sealed with 6 Phillips head screws.  The plastic seems brittle, and I think the screws will strip out the holes in time.

The patterns were okay, but the light is single color and only one sided.  If you mount the spoke light on the left side the lettering will be backwards.  You can fix this by holding the power button.  This will change the orientation.   The light comes with a magnet that mounts to your fork or seatstay or chainstay.   There is no way to orient the letters or patterns based on magnet location, so the words might be upside down depending on your magnet location.


 

MonkeyLectric M232

M232 bike light animated gif

Meon (Front wheel)

Meon Light-up Bike FX Front

Meon (Rear wheel)

Meon Light-up Bike FX Rear

Meon Light-Up Bike FX

Manufacturer Description:

Meon Wheel Writer Light-Up Bike FX Triple Pack includes all of the following:

  • Wheel Writer - Picture appear in your bike wheel as you pedal
  • Light Striper - Pinstripe your bike frame with bright electroluminescent wire
  • Gyro Flasher - Spiraling patterns of light appear in your bike wheel

Bike FX Wheel Writer

Pictures Magically appear in your bike wheel as you pedal. Mount the Wheel Writer directly to the spokes of almost any bike wheel (20" and up) and as the wheel spins, the super-bright computer-controlled LEDs flash on and off to create a dozen different images and patterns - including a real working speedometer.

Bike FX Light Striper

Pinstripe your bike or scooter with cool futuristic light.  Includes 8 feet of bright blue electroluminescent wire allowing you to make radiant one-of-a-kind designs that stand out from the crowd.  The Light Striper mounts to your handlebars or under your seat and include 10 clips and 20 elastic bands for easy installation.  Can be used solo or combined, as solid light or in several blinking patterns.

Bike FX Gyro-Flasher

Vibant, multi-color rings of light appear on any standard bike wheel (18" and up).  The Gyro Flasher mounts directly to a wheel spoke and two ultra-bright LEDs make unique patterns of spiraling light as you ride.  They are the cool and colorful way to trick out any bike.

John's Notes:

This product, the Meon Light-Up Bike FX, comes with two single sided wheel lights, and a light up electroluminescent wire.

Wheel Writer:

One light just creates random, abstract multi-colored patterns with 2 LEDs.  The other creates specific images in red and can also function as a speedometer.

The wheel lights come in three pieces.  You screw the 2nd piece in while the light is in the wheel and then the third while holding the rest of the light in place.  The light that creates specific patterns can be set to scroll through the patterns or you can choose your favorite.  There is a way to set the orientation so that the images are right side up, but the light single sided, so if you mount on the wrong side, the letters and numbers will be backwards.

Gyro-Flasher:

The Gyro-Flasher light only has 2 LEDs, so it's basically a bulkier, dimmer M204 made from hard brittle plastic.  And you can't select the patterns.

The battery compartments on both require a Phillips head to open.

Bike FX Light Striper:

This isn't designed to be a wheel light, so I didn't mount it for this test.


 

Thanks for taking a look at our comparison!  We hope that this has been helpful and informative for you.

 

-John

Our M204 versus other bicycle wheel lights

We took a look at our M204 Monkey Light against other wheel-lighting options on the market.   Some of these lights mount in between spokes, some mount on the tire valve ("valve cap lights").  We mounted all lights on the exact same motorized wheel and photographed the results. We wanted to be as impartial as possible, so each light was photographed under the exact same conditions and camera settings. (f/22, 1/3sec 800 ISO, 18mm focal length).  Then we turned those photos into an animated gif.  You can see a little bit of the tire in each image, in the upper right hand corner.

Using M204 as a baseline, I tried to choose camera settings that gave the clearest image of the lights while shadowing out anything in the background. This had the unintended result of making all the lights tested appear much dimmer than they would to the human eye. We brightened all the images by exactly the same amount (2 stops) in Lightroom. For all of the comparisons, The M204 is on the left, and other lights are on the right.

Our M204 is fully waterproof, emits 40 lumens of light.  You can press a button to cycle between color combinations, and they last for up to 60 hours on a single charge.  With 4 full-color LEDs, it provides 360-degree visibility for your bike.

-
John

 

 

MonkeyLectric M204

 

MonkeyLectric M204

Animated M204

Niteize Spokelit

niteize spokelit

Niteize Spokelit

These are single LED lights, housed in translucent plastic so that the entire casing glows when the light is on, but are brighter on the side with the LED.   This fits between the spokes of your bicycle wheel.  They progress between different colors over time. Installing these was probably the easiest of all the lights.  They run for 20 to 25 hours and use 2 CR2016 button-cell batteries, just under half the run-time of a M204.


 

MonkeyLectric M204

Animated M204

Cateye Orbit

Cateye Orbit

Cateye Orbit

These are very similar to Nightize, same easy to install design, with a single LED, so the light is stronger on one side than the other. The Cateye only shows light in one color..  They use 2 CR2032 button-cell batteries and claim a 30 hour or 50 hour battery life, almost as much as our M204.


 

MonkeyLectric M204

Animated M204

Sunlite Wheel Flash Sabers

Sunlite wheel flash saber

Sunlite Wheel Flash Saber

The Sunlite consists of 3 LEDs, blue, red & green. They connect to Schrader style valve stems, but can be attached to Presta valves with a Schrader adapter. They do not have an on or off switch, but use light and motion sensors. They are supposed to only turn on when it's dark and your bike is in motion. On the test wheel they kept shutting off and I had to give them a flick to turn them on again. It's possible that a stationary wheel doesn't jostle them enough to set them off even when it's spinning. Personally I found this to be the best after our own. A caveat: they only have lights on one side, but are designed so that you can twist them to face whatever direction you prefer. I shot images of them facing towards the camera.  Battery life is unknown but they use 3 tiny button-cell batteries.  All of our lights are visible on both sides, and provide 360-degree visibility.


 

MonkeyLectric M204

Animated M204

NiteIze See'em

Niteize See'em

NiteIze See'em

These seemed to weigh the least of all. The installation was mildly difficult, but it was probably the most original attachment mechanism I've seen and it seemed to work well. To turn them on, you twist the same cap that screws on to hold the batteries, only you turn it past a point that feels like it's fully tightened. They're small, and you have to use a lot of force to do this, which made it difficult to tell if I was just turning them too far and might break the casing.  The light is only one side, but you can face them either way. One light was brighter than the other, but I checked all batteries prior to the test with a multimeter and they all had a full charges.  They take one 927 button-cell battery and the batteries last 24 hours.


 

MonkeyLectric M204

Animated M204

Tire Sparx

Tire Sparx

Tire Sparx

Single flashing LED, same installation as the Sunlite and like the Sunlite they have motion sensors, but they do not have light sensors. This should mean that they will be on whenever the wheel is in motion, even in daytime. Like the Sunlite, I found that they tended to shut off if I didn't flick them now and then to get them to stay on. These come 2 to a pack, so you can put one on each wheel.  No word on battery life, but they take small button-cell batteries.