An animated GIF clip from this Felix le Blanc video in Chamberry, Aix les Bains, le Bourget (Savoie, France):
Featuring Johanne Berthou, Leo Nobile, and Jeremy Brosset riding their bikes through dark city streets with our M232 bicycle wheel lights. There are some nice BMX tricks in the full video. We love how the M232’s LEDs illuminate the walkway and side of the building.
Do you run with your child in a jogging stroller in the evening? For some of us, that’s only the time we can get our workout in. I wanted to feel safer while running with our daughter in our Thule Chariot, so I put our M204 bicycle wheel light on the front wheel. This only works for “normal” spoked wheels that are 16″ or larger. Some joggers, such as the Bob, have large plastic spokes that the light will unfortunately not fit on.
I found that the light does a good job of keeping us illuminated and safe in the evening, especially while crossing through intersections. I’m not sure what people thought when they saw our light up stroller. My daughter is also pretty amused by the changing colors.
What are people doing with their Monkeylights? We were curious to find out so we asked some customers who have done creative things with their Monkeylights to share with us.
We have been fans of New Zealand's Antoine Pethers since we first saw his collection of bicycle photography. We asked him questions to learn a little more about him and for tips on how he takes such great photos and he was gracious enough to be our guinea pig in the first edition of our Monkeylectric customer profiles.
Antoine pictured with the "impossibly pink" Lightpath in Auckland, NZ
Please tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and what do you do?
My name is Antoine Pethers. I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and work in commercial printing.
What is your bicycling and artistic background?
I loved riding bikes as a child and back then it was a perfectly normal thing to do, we even rode to school. That's rare now as parents perceive cycling on the road as a dangerous activity.
In my mid 20s I worked in a design studio and we had this one young guy that was so obsessed with cycling it kind of rubbed-off on the entire staff. Before long I was totally hooked and purchased a mountain bike to race with my work colleagues. As well as commuting by bike we'd meet-up on Sundays to train on empty country roads, usually with the boss and a client in-tow.
Ten years ago I dusted-off my mountain bike and began riding to work again. I loved it so much I couldn't stop, and I wondered why more people didn't use bikes to get around, it was so much fun.
What is my artistic background? Well I've been interested in art, design and photography from an early age and have worked in those areas most of my career.
What is it like riding a bike where you live?
Auckland is in the midst of a bike-culture boom at the moment. After decades of neglect a lot of money is being spent on bicycle-infrastructure in the city and it's slowly filtering out to the suburbs. We have some world-class facilities now like the impossibly pink Lightpath, and everyones' fingers are crossed a cycle-path called Skypath will be slung underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge so those living in the north of the city (like me) can actually ride into downtown. At the moment you have to catch the ferry or ride 50km around the top of the harbour! In my part of town cars still rule and it's pretty gladiatorial, but attitudes are slowly improving.
How did you get the idea to photograph your Monkeylights?
I'm totally fixated with taking pictures of bikes and once I had that first Monkeylight installed, the patterns were so captivating I simply HAD to get pictures of them.
What is your process?
I work shiftwork so most weeks I'm riding in the dark, be it very early in the morning or late at night. I pull to the side of the bike lane, manually set the focus and exposure controls on my compact camera, and ride along holding it out at arms-length. I use a wrist strap for security and hold the camera upside down so I can press the shutter and my arm isn't in the frame. People assume I use some kind of selfie-stick, but at 6' 5" I just have really long arms!
Do you have any tips for someone else who may want to photograph Monkeylights in motion?
Find a nice wide empty street or you'll ride into something and hurt yourself. Pedal at a steady pace and experiment with slower and slower shutter-speeds until you get the best results. It needs to be long enough that the Monkeylight does a whole 360º rotation and doesn't overlap too much. Getting a little technical here, but I use a low ISO setting (usually 100) to keep the noise down (the grainy stuff in night shots) and a small aperture like f11 so the long shutter speed doesn't over-expose the photos. Because the LEDs are pulsing they come out sharp even if everything else in the image is a bit soft and wonky. Some of my best shots were captured as I rode under street lights, you never quite know what you'll end up with.
I take them in bursts and pick-out the best ones when I get home. You will get lots of rejects, that's half the fun.
Does it require any special equipment?
You probably need a camera with manual exposure controls, but you might get a result using the "fireworks" mode (or similar) on a compact camera. It's best if you can set the focus manually as you'll get mixed results letting the camera hunt around in the dark looking for something to focus on. I specifically bought a small camera (Sony RX100), so it's not a chore to carry along on bike rides. A wide-angle lens is handy if you need to get both wheels in the shot.
Is there an objective or statement you hope to make with your photos?
I'd like to think they portray the sheer joy of riding, and the fact you don't have to stop after it gets dark. Mostly though, it's about capturing the beauty of these mobile light-shows, they still entrance me.
How did you hear about Monkeylectric?
I stumbled across one of your early videos online, the one with the catchy electronic soundtrack. I couldn't afford that first model but when the M232 came out and someone began importing them to New Zealand I took the plunge. Because I'm always riding in the dark I thought it would increase my visibility and it sure did that!
Also stop by Antoine's Community Bike Blog called Bike Friendly North Shore which he has run for a few years now encouraging people to bike-for-transport, and generally just get active and have fun with their families
We'd like to thank Antoine for sharing his insight and photography with us!
Share Your Story!
If you would like to share with us what you have been doing with your Monkeylight, please send an email to chloe @ monkeylectric . com
We've been in touch with nearly all of the winners (Francesco and Dora, check your email!). Thanks everybody for submitting so many nice photos and videos. Our staff took a look at all of the entries and the winners are the top vote-getters.
Onto our winners!
THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
By sityak in Hungary
CATEGORY: ME AND MY RIDE
Sleek, Sexy, Silly, Suave or Sentimental? We were looking for great photos of you with your bike.
zannaloves in Seattle
by larryvarney in Kentucky
by a_r_i_ in Germany
by yvrs in Massachusetts
by mrgt_ in the Netherlands
by flip_21 in Germany
CATEGORY: FAMILY FUN
(Note: We didn't get enough entries in this category, but we decided to award some prizes anyway!)
by avanbee in the UK
by by finnsnaterse in Finland
Natural wonder and beauty. We were looking for photos of the amazing places where you've taken your ride.
by gabornagylbn in Poland
by she_rawrs in Colorado
by meszagabi in Germany
by zakharvenuko in British Columbia
CATEGORY: LA NOCHE
Show us your night. We were looking for your best shots at night.
by gary_stubelick in Massachusetts
by hautlife in Alaska
by treehuggerchris in Texas
by chimneychickens in Washington
CATEGORY: MONKEY LIGHTS
Unabashedly awesome, unadulterated fun. Who had the best Monkey Light photos?
BicycleMoments by cyborgmanlibre from the Canary Islands
by mkharunaga in Hawaii
Thanks again for participating, everyone! You should sign up for our mailing list below, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and of course Instagram to be the first to hear about contests in the future.
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.
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.
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.
Sunlite Wheel Flash Sabers
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.
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.
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.
I loved that sound, it was like raw power! angry bees! and it got fiercer the faster you pedaled! It was great. It’s something I really associate with those cheap department store dirt bikes we jumped off of sketchy ramps and bombed down dirt mounds. The bikes that taught us how to wheelie and bunny hop and left us with a respectable road rash all summer. They weren’t good bikes, they didn’t have fancy components, they were stupidly heavy for their size, and they were the single greatest thing we had ever seen under a pine tree in late December.
But I’m getting carried away. I’m supposed to be posting some videos for you to enjoy.
Johnnyrandom (Steven Baber) is a composer who makes music from everyday objects. This is just a sampling of “Bespoken” which you can download on his Bandcamp or iTunes. It’s made completely from playing parts of a bicycle.
I’m going to leave you with a young Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show. It’s mostly Steve Allen cracking jokes, but who cares? It’s 1963, nobody really knows who Frank Zappa is yet, and here he is on national TV getting the host to blow into the handlebars of a Schwinn like a flute. It’s three parts, but they total less than 15 minutes. I highly suggest watching if you haven’t seen it.
Last fall, I went to Mexico for the first time. The trip was long overdue; having grown up in Los Angeles, not far from the border and rife with culture spilling over from its southerly neighbors, I often felt embarrassment for never making the trek across. But now, eight years after leaving LA for a more northern setting, I finally bought a ticket to visit Mexico's capital.
I planned the trip for the end of October, initially thinking I would spend another Halloween in New Orleans to see old friends, play music in the streets, and join in on the excessive holiday… festivities. But my curiosity paired with the ease of searching for plane tickets online led me to different tarmacs. One factor that was difficult to deny was that flying to Mexico is less financially cumbersome than flying to New Orleans. It, too, occurred to me that my dedicated time frame meant I would be in the freaking capital of Mexico during Dia de Los Muertos. And with winter hastily encroaching, why not travel further south? I made up my mind and secured my future travel plans with a few finalizing clicks of the mouse.
After completing my purchase, four friends followed suit and we began making loose preparations. None of us had been to Mexico City before, none of us had friends there, and none of us spoke fluent Spanish. In fact, the five of us combined hardly spoke conversational Spanish. So when we arrived on the 30th, we were armed with limited expectations.
Zócalo on Dia de los Muertos 2015 | Photo: Chloe Behrens
Straight out of the airport, we were greeted by the relentless bustle of automotive traffic. We cabbed from the terminal to the apartment we had rented out for the next few days. It was over an hour of weaving through unpredictable drivers, a tempestuous hub-capped sea of buses, cars (especially old VW Bugs), and taxis, with motorcycles and bicycles scattered amidst. As a full time cycling commuter, I immediately took notice of the bicycles I saw and perceived that despite the lawless traffic and motorists, cycling culture is abundantly present in the streets of Mexico City.
Mexico Cargo Bike by Volcrano
The first bikes that stood out to me were the utilitarian front-load cargo bikes. Throughout my brief stay, I would see these bikes all around the city, transporting teetering towers of goods, large tanks of propane, people, and sometimes corrals of tiny dogs. I love these bikes, the front is basically a steel framed pushcart on two bicycle wheels with the rest of the bike attached by a swinging hinge in the head tube. They look about as heavy as they are useful and seem impossible to steer. It's impressive to think of the effort and strength it takes to pedal around a cargo bike such as this, particularly when it is loaded so high that one cannot see around it. However, most cyclists in the city do not use their bikes strictly for hauling large and heavy objects.
As we drew nearer to the place we stayed, I saw more road bikes and single speeds on the street. I started to notice a vast amount of fire engine red hybrids that came fully equipped with head and tail lights and white signs attached to the fenders reading, "EcoBici." We learned that these EcoBicis are part of a city wide program launched in 2010 after nearly three years of the wildly popular event, Muévete en Bici, where each Sunday traffic is closed from 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM to motorists on one of the busiest thoroughfares, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma. This event was organized by Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, democratic politician and avid spokesman for cyclist rights, in 2007 as an effort to encourage more people to ride bicycles in the city.
The Muévete en Bici ride that occurred during my visit had a record-breaking 95,000 participants, much of them riding bikes provided by EcoBici. Many locals believe that the advent of Muévete en Bici and the Ecobici installations brought greater awareness and accessibility for cyclists throughout the city, allowing for improvements to be made to the city's cycling infrastructure. The EcoBici program is considered to be very successful and is now the fourth largest city bike share system in the world, having expanded after several years to accommodate tourists and visitors whereas before it was only an option for residents of the city. As of my visit, Mexico City boasted 90 miles of dedicated cycling lanes with the promise of more to come. The motorists, while still a presence to exert extreme caution around are slowly, although sometimes reluctantly, becoming more acclimated to sharing the road with their two-wheeled companions.
Despite these efforts, any road traveled may be a dangerous one. On our first night walking around the trendy neighborhood of La Roma, I stop before a familiar image; a mangled bicycle, rattle-canned white, and chained to a light post. Colloquially known as a ghost bike, one may see these bicycles in hundreds of cities around the world standing to commemorate cyclists whose lives were lost on the street. It is a grim reminder of the risks posed to cyclists everywhere.
But on the night of the Dia de los Muertos and Halloween festivities, pedestrians and cyclists rule the road. We had the happy accident of ending up right in the heart of the city as tens of thousands of people flooded the streets for the celebrations. Everyone was dressed up, there was live music and vendors on every corner. We stopped to watch an instrumental surf-rock band called Los Mandragora playing in a packed alleyway. The wail of the amplifiers and the cheers from the celebrators reverberated off the mosaicked sides of the magnificent Spanish Colonial buildings around us.
While standing among throngs of costumed people congregated in the main square at Zócalo, I became distracted by the whizzing chorus of exceptionally noisy freewheels. I turned to see an enormous pack of adolescents on BMX bikes flying past the square. Some wheelie or bunny hop, others mashed ahead. Toward the end of the pack I spotted two pre-teen girls riding together on one BMX face to face, with one standing and pedaling and the other sitting on the handlebars with her back to the road. Just as quickly as they had all arrived, they had gone and I was left to momentarily muse over this ephemeral vignette before being jarred back to the present by the roar of the crowd that encased me.
Ghost Bike in La Roma 2015 | Photo: Chloe Behrens
Los Mandragora playing in Zócalo on Day of the Dead 2015 | Photo: Chloe Behrens