Animated GIF Bike Spokes: Swanky Or Lethal?

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)

    • 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.

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