Animated GIF Bike Spokes: Swanky Or Lethal?

A new Kickstarter project is attempting to fund mass-production of GIF-flashing bike spokes that are capable of displaying popular internet memes and pop culture icons via a range of media formats. This sounds great on paper but are they actually safe for riders to use?

Image Credit: Monkeylectric

The Monkey Light Pros comprise of four circular LED bars that fit along the spokes inside your bike wheels. As the wheel spins, the bars rotate and generate a 256-colour animated GIFs by exploiting the persistence of vision effect. The system incorporates a two-axis accelerometer and four magnetic sensors to track rotational speed and direction, keeping your GIFs moving in the right direction in time with your pedaling (16km/h-65km/h).

The system can load up to 1000 frames in a variety of media formats (JPG, GIF, PNG, AVI, MPEG, MOV, QT, FLV) onto a web-based playlist for display. Users can also download the Mac/Linux API to create custom light shows though the system comes preloaded with 10 animations. The integrated 7000mAh Li-ion battery supplies 3-8 hours of power at full brightness (up to 48 hours on lower settings).

We're sure plenty of our bike-mad readers would love to snap up a pair of these things — just look at those amazing cat GIFs above! However, we can't help but wonder whether animated GIF wheels could cause more accidents than they prevent. While it's true that eye-catching colours and lights are an essential part of bike safety, the Monkey Light Pro probably take things too far — if I saw these things while driving my car, I'd be hugely distracted.

If you're willing to take the risk you can contribute to the fundraising campaign by ordering a pair of your own from the Monkey Light Pro Kickstarter page. Prices start at $50.

Additional reporting by Andrew Tarantola.


    Coming to a set of taxi wheels near you: more annoying animated adverts...
    Turning in a vicious circle, from quirky geek chic, to totally totally naff, with the inevitability of the earth's rotation...

      Yikes, I hadn't thought of that. Buses will be first in line, probably.

      Actually there has been a product like this for cars for several years now... its just horrendously expensive.
      google pimpstar wheels

    Prices start at $700 to actually get a device from what I see!

    EDIT: you can buy lower res versions for $50/$75 (10LED/32LED)

    Last edited 29/05/13 5:51 pm

      I actually purchased two of the MonkeyLectric 232 (32 LEDs. About $75 a pop) for my partner. She cycles a lot, and I was very aware that from the side cyclists tend to be fairly difficult to see. The lights which you can attach to the valve of your tyres are a waste of time as they are not bright enough. These are *very* visible, to the point of being (for better or worse) slightly eye-catching.

      Having had a couple of near-misses on my bicycle lately (twice from people going through stop-signs on side-streets) I am sorely tempted to get some myself.

    There may be legal issues. In QLD, blue lights on a vehicle is restricted to emergency service vehicles only and attract a fine otherwise. So you'll have make sure that you don't use blue in your animation.

    How many kilowatts does this guy put out?



        Same penalties as having "neons" under your car. Distracting to other drivers, and there are laws about lights facing certain directions (aka red light can only point back etc).

          Laws applicable to cars are not automatically applicable to bicycles - they're completely different classifications of vehicles.

          Can you cite relevant legislation?


            with definition of a vehicle here:


              I checked out your link and it states at the top of the section,

              "Division 1 Lights on vehicles (except bicycles, animals and animal-drawn vehicles)
              214 Division does not apply to riders of bicycles, animals or animal-drawn vehicles
              This Division does not apply to the rider of a bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle.
              Note 1. Bicycle is defined in the Dictionary.
              Note 2. The rules for using lights when riding a bicycle or an animal-drawn vehicle at night, or in hazardous weather conditions, are:
              • for riders of bicycles—rule 259
              • for riders of animal-drawn vehicles—rule 223."

    Pretty sure i'd rather having gears on my bike than this!

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