Reflective Tape DIY – “Get Visible!”

Holy Reflective Metal, Cyclists! Agent Mir.I.Am reporting for duty here:  Check out this little DIY project I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: Stealth Reflectors from Bike Commuters.com reader, Raiyn…  It’s based on the fact that I am underpaid and unlikely to buy that spiffy Bright Bike kit or not quite crazy enough to “Get Visible” like these luminous peeps in this email forward inter-tube video.  Anyway, if you’ve recently cleaned your frame you might be interested in this easy number.

One lovely afternoon, boyfriend tells me that he gets free shipping through the Jungle Website if he spends a couple more bones so do I want anything from Jungle Land?  YES PLEASE!  Last week the postal service delivered our Jungle package and it was this

3M reflective tape for less than three bones each!? I'll take two.

Praise to the Amazonian Jungle Goddesses for taking my (boyfriend’s) sacrificial three dollars for a 36″ long sliver of Ruban Adhesif Reflechissant! Or, thank you tricksy false Amazon.com for convincing us to spending more money on your website with promises of freedom of shipping…   With this new gift bestowed upon me, weekend crafties were in order.  Finally!

Yes I had one of these, and it is now dead after two weeks of approximately 1-hour night time commutes. Time to change a battery!

Super Tangent: I ADORE BLINKY LIGHTS.  Brian (aka boyfriend) will often enter the LBS with me in search of something simple like a spare tube, a shopping trip he envisions taking only 5 minutes tops.  It always ends with him dragging me away from the blinky lights display; I can sit there -literally- for a half hour playing with Knogs, Planet Bike headlamps, and those ghetto spoke multi-colored LEDs that die after 6 hours of commuting. **GASP! Shiny Things!!! Yes, yes, I do need more than two headlights.**  I also dig reflective and neon colored shiz  and don’t care if this makes me a visibility dork…. My next reflective purchase will definitely be a pair of these hotties at Art n Flea from Vamos Threads.  Needless to say, I freaking love reflective and hi-viz anything!!!  On to the DIY part.

Please excuse the hipsta-matic photo qualities, as I have yet to purchase a digital camera of considerable quality (my current cameras include broken underwater digital camera from WalCrap, outdated Kodak Polaroid, cell phone without internet access)… Thus, we are relegated to the use of boyfriend’s so’called “iPhone” and emailing photos back to myself.  Bear with me, bike commuters.

Some tools required for the DIY “Get Visible” installation:

This photo was apparently taken from a DIY scene in 1776. *Dirty cutting board optional, clean cutting surfaces are also acceptable.

STEP 1: Cut a hole in the box.

STEP 2: Put your junk in the… oh wait. No, step two is measure the length of piece you want to cut against your bike frame.  Here is a picture of me and the bumblebee Scott Speedster doing just this, way back… back in TIME.  Like 1972, considering the amber glow from the hipstamatic iPhone thing.

Really, accuracy is not much of an issue…

STEP 3: Now you cut it using your fangs!!  Like this:

Anything semi-sharp with the exception of a plastic spork should do it!

STEP 4: Apply willy-nilly!  I stuck these reflective tape pieces all over my bike-parts that were white so it has the same bumblebee Scott Speedster label-whore design as the original.  Maybe if I happen upon a large amount of scrap reflective tape, I will just bling the whole damn frame!  Another idea for acquiring reflective tape comes from this Instructable, where they suggest hitting up your local safety equipment store and asking for reflective sign scraps for free!

Hopefully this increases my visibility.  If any of you Oahu riders happen to see my Bumblebee Speedster cruisin’ around Chinatown, take a pictha with a flash so we can check if this reflective tape works… Lacking photography apparatus at the moment.  Anyone else have super easy DIY tips on how to get visible like the crazy headband  chick in that video?!! (Seriously watch this lady, she is cracking me up!)  I’ll start with Vamos Threads reflective leggings…  In the meantime, maybe it’s time to change the battery in my Spoke Light:

TRON TIME!!! Blinky crack party!

Hopefully this post will show you how 15 minutes, some shadow fangs (or scissors) and reflective tape can add a little bling to your frame without breaking the bank.  So easy, why did I wait 2.5 years?  Maybe it’s the fact that I only clean my bike once per season… oops!  Wham BAM!  Mir.I.Am.  Catch you next time my cycle monsters.


21 Comments

  1. Lisa June 27, 2011 5:23 am 

    I’d love to see a pic of your bike with the reflector tape to see how well the tape works soon, once you find a way! I’ve been thinking of trying that myself.

  2. Vincer June 27, 2011 6:07 am 

    Oh Snap! That is a blindingly bright idea!
    When pics are available, I’d like to see them!

  3. Elizabeth June 27, 2011 10:06 am 

    I bought that tape and had it all over my old helmet and previous commuter bike’s fenders. LOVE reflective/blinkie stuff!

  4. Mir.I.Am June 27, 2011 12:59 pm 

    Stealth reflection photos are in order: Roommate has been recruited to use a digital camera with flash to scope it out! Follow up post this week! Elizabeth, are there photos of your helmet/fenders that you can post on the bikecommuters.com FB page?

  5. Wardo June 27, 2011 1:39 pm 

    Great idea to use reflective tape, and even I who has no handyman skills can manage this.

  6. d.d.abs June 27, 2011 1:51 pm 

    I totally TRONed out my helmet like that for Halloween a few years back, and kinda liked it, so it stayed on there till my helmet got stolen and slash or lost :( <- sad face emoticon.

  7. Emho June 27, 2011 2:03 pm 

    Great safety addition — and one that takes about 30 seconds to accomplish. Sweet! Where else can we go with this reflective tape? I am excited to do stealth reflecto- graffiti on some rich folks’ nice white cars (think what you can do with all that surface area!) and watch it come to life in the night. Muah.hah.aha.ah.a.

  8. Julie June 27, 2011 2:35 pm 

    Great idea. I love DIY.
    How about the sides and backs of the bicycling shoes? May save a life if the shoes are also worn as walking shoes at night. Ditto with jogging shoes. I jog more than I bike.

  9. Beerfart June 27, 2011 3:27 pm 

    Mir.I Am, I like your writing style, a nice addition to BC.com.
    I recently replaced the batteries in my spoke lights. Don’t go to Batteries Plus, it was $4 a battery and each light takes two batteries. Ouch.

  10. Mir.I.Am June 27, 2011 3:48 pm 

    @Julie: Like the idea for bike shoes! I dunno if the tape would stick to cloth material.
    @Pyrophile: JEALOUS OF YOUR AWESOME CHECKER PATTERN! and @Beerfart: (snickering at your funny name) eek, seems like those spoke lights cost more to reuse than to replace… thanks for da tip!

  11. Andrea June 27, 2011 4:34 pm 

    Great idea, could we lay off the crack though??

  12. A. MONLAI June 27, 2011 10:22 pm 

    MirI.Am….love your name.. love your article presentation.
    I don’t bike, but you have me sold.
    More articles to come????

  13. Josh June 28, 2011 1:54 pm 

    I’ve got my bike loaded up with Reflexite SOLAS tape: video here.

    Looks like the place I bought it from doesn’t sell it by the foot any more, only by the roll, but you can find it on ebay. It is, in my experience, brighter than most of the 3M tapes.

  14. Ghost Rider June 28, 2011 6:37 pm 

    The brightest reflective tape I’ve seen is called “DOT conspicuity tape” It comes in rolls but can occasionally be found in strip-kits at automotive stores. Man, that stuff is BRIGHT, but it ain’t “stealth” at all.

  15. Raiyn June 28, 2011 9:36 pm 

    Since my project was referenced in this piece I’d be remiss (and somehow potentially liable) if I didn’t add the following statement:

    As I said in my original (linked in the article) and subsequent postings on the matter every place I’ve researched has a “red in the rear” law on the books so I HIGHLY recommend that your “stealth” strategy includes RED tape in the rear. I also don’t suggest the strategy for red bikes for reasons that should be obvious.

    I can’t stress this enough. PLEASE CHECK YOUR LOCAL LAWS!

    Quick link to bike laws including some international regs. http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/bikelaw.htm

    “Stealth” reflectors are a wonderful thing, but I don’t want anyone having legal issues because they don’t comply with local laws. As I’ve stressed over the years, I wouldn’t want anyone to potentially get a ticket, or lose a lawsuit due to an “improperly” equipped bike.

    Lawyers suck, and will turn the most minute technical detail against you given half a chance, don’t give them any ammo against you.

    PLEASE CHECK YOUR LOCAL LAWS!

    That being said, let’s see some “stealth” bikes!

    Stock “stealth” http://www.marinbikes.com/2011/bike_specs.php?serialnum=1556&Lombard

  16. PhilGE June 29, 2011 10:32 am 

    Buy a big roll and share it with your friends – it’s much cheaper that way. While you’re at it, offer to help kids snazz up their bikes with it. You might just help save a life!

    Here’s another vote for SOLAs if you want really high reflectivity and water repellence.

  17. Mir.I.Am June 29, 2011 6:38 pm 

    Nice one, PhilGE and Josh! Sounds like this SOLAs sticker stuff is a great addition to blinky light madness. Must. Convcince. Roommate: Charge digital camera batteries so we can see the whole hi-viz ensemble!

  18. Elizabeth June 30, 2011 2:58 pm 

    Sorry – no photos of the old helmet decked out in the reflective tape.

    I do have a product (untested still) from a local guy here in Chicago called Lightweights – http://www.lightweights.org/

  19. Jose Lopez February 23, 2015 9:12 pm 

    I have used reflective tape before. I had a white car that I put checkered flag pattern on all four wheels, five spots, and Pontiac I the front, all white tape, at night it was like all that tape came to life, it looked great. It was fun doing all that work, Now I’m applying it to my bicycle, all lettering in red and white, red on black and white on aluminum, so in the day it’s just plain, but at night it will look great, it’s taking me a lot of hours, but I want it to look different and right.

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