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.


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