Category: Lights



A great set of bike lights are a must for any bike commuter. But, sometimes there are an overwhelming amount of choices at you local bike shop. My no-brainer go-to? Planet Bike: a fantastic company with standup values and reasonably priced products that perform well.

Sometimes you can’t make a decision on what lights are best for your bike commute, so you just have to put on your neon jacket.

My last set of lights were from PB, and they lasted me over 4 years, only to be bequeathed to my sister along with my orange Le Tour II as I left my bikes behind for a year of travel – (to my knowledge, all still in working condition). When I arrived back in the states, RL hooked me up with a welcome package of PB goodies to review.

Here’s a sneak peek at the lineup for the latest evolution of PB lights that I will be reviewing shortly:
Micro features:

  • High and low-power beam along with SUPERFLASH™ mode
  • Optically-advanced lens provides superior beam patternSUPERFLASH™ mode is highly visible, even in daylight
  • QuickCam™ bracket mounts, adjusts or removes in seconds w/o tools
  • Up to 64 hours runtime (flashing) on 2 AA batteries included
  • 139 Lumens

Turbo features:

  • One Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries
  • Weighs 75 grams with batteries


The Micro Blaze 2W headlights run for $39.99 MSRP a piece and the Micro + Turbo front and rear combo sells for $74.99 MSRP. For the quality, the price can’t be beat! I can’t wait to test these guys out after my satisfaction with the longevity of my original 1W Blaze headlight. That’s about 10 bones a year, if you don’t lose it after four years!

In the meantime, if you are without bike lights, get out there and enjoy these long summer days and stretch our your evening commutes. Laters, Cycle Gators.


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No lights necessary: Indian Summer – Dottie’s ride in 2012. Courtesy of Let’s Go Ride a Bike.


You may have noticed that we don’t pitch very many Kickstarter campaigns here — and lord knows we field a TON of them every week. It’s sort of an unwritten rule here at…you want crowd funding? Take it somewhere else.

There are exceptions, of course, and here’s the latest from MonkeyLectric, which happens to make really great bike lights and has been good to us over the years, letting us test prototypes, shooting the breeze with us at Interbike, and advertising here to help us keep the site running.

Along with the lights we’ve reviewed here, MonkeyLectric also makes a “Pro” series light (mostly a prototype/custom-orderable) that is, well, frighteningly expensive. Enter the Kickstarter campaign — seeking a way to be able to mass-manufacture this light system at a better pricepoint:

MonkeyLectric Kicks Off Funding Production of Revolutionary New Bike Light via Kickstarter
Monkey Light Pro gives bike riders a novel way to express their unique individuality in a dazzling manner

BERKELEY, CA. MAY 22, 2013 – MonkeyLectric announced today the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to fund manufacturing efforts of its new product, the Monkey Light Pro, a unique bicycle light that utilizes cutting edge technology to allow users to display images and animation on their spinning bicycle wheel. The Pro series is for people who want to get their message out, express their individuality and be seen. The company is using the crowdsource fundraising efforts of Kickstarter to finance the manufacturing, which can be found at

The Monkey Light Pro, a more technologically advanced version of the popular Monkey Light Mini and the original Monkey Light models, features 256 LED lights and 4,096 colors that can be customized into designs uploaded via Bluetooth. Monkey Light Pro also allows users to upload up to 1,000 photos or 90 seconds of video. The Pro series is mounted to the bicycle wheel where it is easily viewed from both sides and multiple angles; the Pro is shock resistant and weatherproof.

Driven by MonkeyLectric’s eclectic backgrounds, the lighting art featured in their namesake product are designed by various graphic and psychedelic artists, including the well known David Ope, and provides riders the ultimate way to express their creativity. When the bike is in motion, it uses the “persistence of vision” effect to display the images that come pre-loaded or created by the users through its open source API.

Previous prototypes and models of the Monkey Light Pro are currently on display at major shows, in museums, as well as in Japan in collaboration with the Fukushima Wheel Project. This particular project utilizes a modified Monkey Light Pro attached to environmental sensors, where light patterns adjust to the levels of environmental pollutants in the area. The Kickstarter campaign hopes to make the product more accessible to developers, artists and the general public.

“Our first Kickstarter campaign allowed us to establish our own manufacturing line here in the USA,” said Dan Goldwater, MonkeyLectric’s CEO. “The success of that campaign helped us create 3 new jobs, make fixed capital investments in machinery, and relocate to a larger facility. With this campaign we hope to continue to invest in our manufacturing capabilities and make the world’s most advanced bicycle display system available to the market.”
During the campaign, Monkey Light Pro will be available to the first twenty pledges for $495, forty at $595 and 100 at $695. The price point after the campaign will be $895.

The Kickstarter page for the new Monkey Light Pro can be found at:

About MonkeyLectric, LLC

MonkeyLectric was founded by Brown graduate and MIT scientist Dan Goldwater in 2008 and is the leader in fun and visible bike lighting. Based in Berkeley, California, the small company aims to make cycling fun and visible. They created the Monkey Light to be make to make riding at night just as fun as during the day. Over the top creativity and tongue in cheek marketing campaigns have put MonkeyLectric on the map, and all products are proudly made in the USA. Learn more at

Just to give you an idea of how amazing the Pro light system is, check out this video that showcases the capabilities:

Orp in red. Also comes in asphalt black, frostbyte white, safety cone orange, wail blue, snot green, and worm white (glorp)

With 5 days to go on this Orp Kickstarter campaign, the Orp Smart Horn is soon to go into production and we’ll be getting one to test!

As a safety conscious cyclist I value that this product attempts to make cyclists both more visible and audible on the roadways.

THE IDEA: Make bikers more visible and /or more “hearable”.
THE SOLUTION: A combination dual tone, high decibel bike horn and front beacon light.
Meet Orp.

As creator Tory Orzeck says on the page:

“Really long story short, we developed this super loud, dual decibel horn. Only after that did we discover the Piezo speaker and its circuitry barely taxed the battery to drive the sound. Sitting right there in front of us, we had everything we needed to add LEDs. So, we ended up combining two products: a beacon light and a horn into one small and (we think) beautiful product.”

This product was thought up in Portland and we’ll certainly put it to the test in Chicago.

Just the other night I was nearly right-hooked by a driver insistent on getting into the right lane to make a turn. He had just passed me and then nearly pulled in front of me. Not even my two front LED blinkies and bell got his attention; my yelling and the screeching of my squealing brakes did get his attention – “WHA…WHOA…LOOK OUT!” (or something to that effect)

Orp’s Horn has 2 modes: soft and WAY loud

The Wail Tail is the ergonomic and intuitive switch controlling the horn.

When you need to alert other cyclists or pedestrians, a small displacement {up or down} of Orp’s Wail Tail produces a friendly chirp at 76 decibels.

When you’re in traffic, and you need to let cars know where you are, then just push a little harder {up or down} and Orp’s “HERE I AM!” sound emits an ear blistering 96 decibels. This is FAR louder than the most popular bike bells.

I could use a horn!

Well, well, well, Bike Commuters – the 2012 Holiday Gift guide is here, in case your favorite mail-order catalog is all out of Leg Lamps for you, your bikey friends and family.  We’ve reviewed a ton of products this year but only a few made the list!  Click on the images to link to the product’s shopping website.  (FTC Disclaimer)

Gifts for Under $20

Loop EVA Bar Tape

Loop EVA Bar Tape

Planet Bike 25g Twinpack CO2 cartridges

PB 25g Twinpack CO2

Jimi Wallet

Mir loves her JIMI Wallet

Fyxation Loop Eva Bar Tape: The quality, durability, low price and color choices make it a great product for any bike commuter to use. $13.95 and available in 5 colors: black, pink, orange, green, and white.

Planet Bike 25g Twinpack CO2 Cartridges:  Need to fill a high-volume tire on the go? You could carry a handful of smaller cartridges or just one of these mini-SCUBA tanks from Planet Bike and be on your way in no time!  Two for $20.99.

JIMI Wallet: clip your keys to it and stash it in your pack, jersey, fannypack, whatever.  Water resistant and with a lifetime guarantee (I’ve tried it and they sent me a new one!) and comes in many colors for $14.95.


Hiviz yellow O2 Rainwear Calhoun Jacket

Ghost Rider's all about the Rainwear Calhoun Jacket – $119.00

Pedal Power Wind Shirt white

Mir.I.Am felt flossy-flossy in the Lululemon Wind Shirt for $59.00!

O2 Rainwear Calhoun Jacket:  This quality jacket performs admirably when the weather turns sour.  Rainproof, windproof, and you don’t feel clammy! It looks nice, it has good features and visibility, and it is packable enough that there’s really no excuse not to bring it with you.

Lululemon Duds: Lululemon makes small batches of high quality, stylish commuter clothes for women and men.  We loved the Pedal Power commuter fall lineup for women, especially this snazzy blouse/windbreaker.  The lineup is constantly changing… a nice gift with a nice price, since all the Pedal Power items are on final sale for half the price.

Planet Bike Borealis Gloves

Jack gave the PB Borealis Gloves two lobster claws up!

Novara Stratos Gloves

Matt also likes the Novara Stratos Gloves, $38.00 at REI.

We liked the Planet Bike Borealis “lobster” gloves because they bring together a warm inner liner and a windproof outer shell. They also keep your last 2 digits a lot warmer than regular separated gloves, without losing any of the function you need while riding.  All for the cozy price of about $42.00.  Matt also recommends the Novara Stratos gloves, which are along the same lines as the PB Borealis but without the removable liner, and with the addition of handy draw cords for a windproof fit!

Though this item was not necessarily reviewed on, our sister site loved these unique socks that are partially made with Possum hair…yes Possum hair! We figured the readership would appreciate them: Pearly’s Possum Socks
Pearly's Possum Socks on


Screen shot 2012-12-02 at 7.08.42 PM

Henty Wingman suit bag

Module 25 Waterproof Commuter Women's Pack

Women's Velo Transit Module 25.

Velo Transit Edge 40

Men's Velo Transit Edge 40.

For those of us who don’t have the option of dressing down, the Henty Wingman is the best suit-carrying pack we know of.  A pricey option, but if you are wearing suits to work, it’s worth it for a $180 suit bag. For any distance on a bike that requires carrying a suit with you, this pack is the way to go.

We reviewed two Velo Transit packs (women’s Module 25 and men’s Edge 40)  and came away really impressed by both. Waterproof, comfortable, and with pockets for everything, the only reason not to get these is price (about $160 for the women’s and $225 for the men’s)… but we’d still recommend getting these and scrimping elsewhere (ramen really isn’t that bad…). Get one and you’ll thank us! Velo Transit has several size options and colors to fit any commuter’s wish list.

Bikes and Components

Xootr Swift

Mir's new best friend: the 8-speed Swift folding bike.

Freedom Cruz 29ers

Matt upgraded his ride with these Freedom Cruz 29ers!

Xootr Swift: If you know anyone who’s looking to get into the fold, without sacrificing the speed on their commute, the Xootr Swift could be your new best friend!  Hills are a breeze with the multiple speeds and the BMX tires ensure a durable commute.  The Swift packs up fast and light for $750.

Freedom Cruz Tires proved to be great for those with 29ers (or 700c bikes with lots of clearance) wishing for a road-oriented tire. Big and smooth-rolling, they’ll make you question why you ever thought 700×25 was a good idea.  $34.99 to upgrade your ride.

Motiv Electric Bike

RL was a big fan of the Motiv Electric Bike starting at $1749.00 with customizable colors for frame, rims, and tires.

Motiv Electric Bicycle. We liked Motiv because there are so many options you can go with when ordering a bike. From tire, rims, cockpit colors and battery/power options, a person can customize their bike to have it built just the way they want it.

Ridekick E-Trailer. We liked it because it turns any bicycle into an e-bike, plus it has storage capabilities.  The RideKick is a great way to repurpose your old ride with extra speed and extra space. The price for the trailer ranges from $699 to $1359, depending on features.  It’s a blast to ride, too!


RL's test ride on the Ridekick was a blast. Put it on your wish list if you want to upgrade to electric.


We recently featured Balance Insurance for the sake that it would be a great thing to have for bike commuters. With annual premiums as low as $63, you just can’t go wrong.

Balance insuranceAs cyclists we all know that at some time we might come off our bikes and hit the ground hard. Most cycling accidents are relatively minor. Some will require medical attention. And then there are those life altering accidents that can cause hospitalization, permanent injury or death. For those latter injuries we created Balance For Cyclists. Balance For Cyclists pays large lump sum cash benefits over and above other insurance to cyclists who are injured in serious cycling accidents. Limits are available between $50,000 and $250,000 and all benefits are paid directly to the insured or their family.

LED by Lite Bumblebee2

Don't mind my dirty handlebars – here comes the review for Version 1, sort of…

Alright, alright, alriiiiight dear readers if you love blinky lights like crack candy for your eyeballs and safety like I do, you must have been excited when we received a kit of LED by Lite’s System 36 Plus Version 1 to test back in April.  Back in the springtime, RL emailed out to the team and it went a little something like this:

RL: You guys recall that product from Interbike?
Well they want to send us a test unit. Anyone want to test it and give it a good shake down? Please respond ASAP.

****10 seconds later to receive message from cyber space and respond INSTANTLY!****

Me: I want SO BAD!!!  TURN SIGNALS!!! please :)

I wiiiin.  Like a Chinese Olympic Gold Medalist, I was proud and honored…  But, before we platform dive a triple-and-a-half gainer into this review, let me share a not-so-surprising announcement that I gleaned from the LED by Lite website:

“We want to thank all of you for your support.  At this time we have suspended sales on version 1.  We’re developing version 2 and realigning our distribution chain.”

Booo!!!  Major disappointment that the release of the version 1 Signal kits had been postponed, I cried like any second-place U.S. Olympian taking home a silver paperweight.  However, I think it was for good reason considering the glitches I encountered while attempting to give this product a deserving review.  Anyway, I wanted to share my honest review with your readers – not as rose-colored as usual – in hopes of helping out President Brandon Smith of LED by Lite, since I am crossing fingers for a successful execution for their Version 2 in the future.

Let’s talk about SPECS, baby:

Product Description

System 36 Plus

The LED By LITE bike light Systems include up to 36 state of the art, High Intensity LEDs to provide a cyclist with the most radiant 360 degree “to be seen” visibility. The LEDbike lights are encased in  flexible polyurethane/silicone straps making them waterproof and extremely durable.

The LED bike lights are powered by our BlackBox, a 12 Volt single cell Lithium Ion Battery Pack, which produces intense lighting without sacrificing run time. The technology of the microchip circuitry includes “dimming pulsating” modes, not blinking on and off. The BlackBox can be recharged with the wall adapter or from a computer using a micro USB cord.

The Plus of this system is our innovative LBL Wireless Dashboard.TM A wireless controller mounted on the handler bar controls both pulsation mode and directional turn indicator system. Your bicycle becomes a more relevant vehicle for the road. The LBL System 36 Plus improves your safety as a cyclist by illuminating your turning intentions and helping you to see and be seen.

  • Total of 36 LEDs front and rear
  • Weighs in at 250 grams
  • 12 Volt single cell Lithium rechargeable batterypack

Full Mode 3 hrs, Front on Rear Pulsating 4.5 hrs, Front and Rear Pulsating 6 hrs

  • Easy to detach cables, for quick system setup and break down
  • Wireless Dashboard: Turn on and off Pulsation and turn indicators

When I received the semi-sweet chocolate kit, I assembled it according to the diagrams that came in the box.  Brandon Smith emailed me to tell me that it was the second calibrated set to be released from their home base in Utah, and the buttons may need a little “breaking in,” but other than that, it should be pre-programmed and ready to go!  Apparently, my skills of reading graphic instructions (just put this nubbin into the little clicky clacky over there, zip tie this doo-dad and stick it to the frame with some butterscotch) was sub-par to say the least.  Apparently, allen-keying together a ZORGLFJORD from Ikea is no indication of your skills for correctly assembling the LED by Lite 36 plus kit.  I emailed Brandon the following photos for a quick diagnosis:

LED by Lite Bumblebee8

LED by Lite Bumblebee5

LED by Lite Bumblebee4

Problem #1: I could only get the front lights to work and was having a terrible time charging the battery pack enough that it could be unplugged from the wall to light up even just the front.  Brandon checked out the photos and told me I had one of the connections backwards in the “Y” shaped cable.  They are working on better diagrams to provide with Version 2.  After all was good and righteous, I then discovered that the dashboard buttons I received weren’t syncde up with the battery pack, so I sent all the black boxes back in exchange for new ones.  Problem 1 solved – properly plugged in and rigged up with a synced up dashboard.

Olympic Qualifying Move:  Brandon was very helpful and promptly answered my emails and could even figure out the problem despite my craptastic photo skills.

Problem #2: As for the battery pack charging, I figured out that if I left it plugged in standing vertically, it charged overnight.  Although, one swift paw of a kitty cat could set me back for the whole night again, so I charged it in a hidden spot, inaccessible to kitties.  Problem 2 solved – or so I thought.

Problem #3: Excited to show off my new blinkers to all those between my house and a dinner party in Makiki, I took the lights out for a 9pm test ride, only to find that (apparently) Problem #2 had caused me to lose battery power after 15 minutes of my 25 minute ride – good thing I had my backup everyday lights and the charger in hand.  Crash landing avoided!  I patiently charged the LED by Lite set up at the house (eating left-handed and playing slow-motion charades to give the charger it’s best chance), waiting for a successful test ride home!  Problem 3 avoided with helpful advice from Michael Westin in Burn Notice.

Olympic Qualifying Move: These LEDs are BRIGHT and make you feel like a bike commuter in Tokyo Drift with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.  SBS (straight baller status) for brightness!  See and be seen!

LED by Lite with Rear Rack

Image from LED by Lite website. Cables accommodate xtracycles and rear racks!

Problem #4: All charged up and ready to roll home, turn signals and all, I get hit with a sheet of late spring rain like a power washer at a Chevron drive-thru.  I’m talking Hawaii downpour, if ya gnome sayin’.  I couldn’t see anything in front of me, and the controls to press buttons on the dashboard were the least of my concerns, so I blinked without taking advantage of the turnsignals all the way home.  Since my bike is fenderless (I stampede in the rain and change clothes when I get home) and the LED by Lite battery pack was tucked right under my seat, the entire system was moist to put it lightly.  Also, Brandon mentioned that Version 2 will include waterproof connections along the cables.  The entire battery pack was done after the first night.  Damnit, and I just got the rear lights working again!  Brandon solved the issue by sending me yet another battery pack.  A week or so later, I finally got to do some “normal” test rides.

Highlights and Recap: All color commentary aside: I had high high hopes for the LED by Lite kit, with wireless remote dashboard and turn signal capabilities.  They weren’t lying when they said this thing is bright!  Running the lights in the daytime, I even heard pedestrians shout “Hey look, the bike has turn signals!” so people do get the picture.  If charged properly it lasts at least a full day (several 10-20 minute jaunts per day).  It is easy to dismount the lights (just rip em off the rubbery stays) but time-consuming to take all the cables down since the connections are not waterproof, and often I leave my bike in an uncovered parking spot.  When I was dismounting everything from the bike except the rubber holds for the LED strips, I would remind myself of how much time I would have to take to find a parking spot if I were in a car instead… Patience is a virtue!  Water is a big issue that they need to correct in version 2 that would help with battery pack failure as well as speed of dismounting the system, since the cables could stay attached to the bike.  The dashboard is odd – buttons are hard to push – making it inconvenient/distracting to light up the signal prior to turning.  Overall, it’s not of the quality one would expect for a $100+ light system.   Let’s hope Version 2 ends up taking home more golds then Michael Phelps instead of disappointing like Version 1.  You can do it Team LED by Lite!  Go for the gold!

Michael Phelps Gold Medals

LEDbyLite – go for the gold in Version 2 – we're counting on you!

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