LED Bike Lights Target Night Riders and ‘Burners’

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This new is from the New York Times

LED Bike Lights Target Night Riders and ‘Burners’

BERKELEY, Calif. — When Dan Goldwater first attached kaleidoscopic LED lights to the spokes of his bicycle wheels and rode through the Burning Man festival at night, the crowd was wowed.

And the “burners” — people who flock to the giant late-summer counterculture festival in the Nevada desert — were not the only ones. Back home in Berkeley, “Everywhere that I took it, people would run down the street after me and ask, where could they get this thing?” Mr. Goldwater said.

Bicycle equipment companies come and go; mostly they go. Mr. Goldwater’s company, Monkeylectric, has been in business for 10 years, convincing night cyclists that front and back lights are inadequate and that they need bright side lighting, too.




Monkeylectric — no one remembers how it got the name — sits at the intersection of safety and art, with an overlay of whimsy. Cyclists pay $25 to $60 for a set of lights to attach to their bicycle wheels. When the wheels spin, they produce rotating light shows with various designs: rainbows, hearts, a skull-and-crossbones or geometrics.



Lights on rotating wheels create what scientists call persistence of vision, which is an illusion. When bicycle wheels with LED lights rotate, our eyes perceive moving light as a continuous image.

Monkeylectric has gone to the Kickstarter well three times. The last time, it raised $248,331, many in preorders for new lights that automatically turn on when rotated in the dark.

Mr. Frankovich, the founder of Revolights, holds six patents on bicycle lighting. He has raised funds on “Shark Tank,” Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

Both companies have marketed their products on Facebook, Instagram and other sites. But Mr. Frankovich said that nothing compared with “street viral marketing” — cyclists pedaling dark streets, with wheeled illumination.

“Every bike is a little billboard for us,” he said.