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Owner Review: MonkeyLectric M210 Wheel Light

MonkeyLectric is about making awesome looking, and hopefully visibility enhancing, lights for bicycle wheels.

From their website:

Show your Style! The M210 Monkey Light is a rugged, practical, high performance bicycle light that keeps you visible in all weather conditions. The M210 straps to your spokes and displays brilliant patterns on your spinning bike wheel. Show your style with cutting edge themes designed by our electronic artists.

In all there are 20 themes programmed into the light, which displays them on a strip of 10 LEDs, with patterns forming, and filling your wheel depending on your speed and wheel diameter. The M210 will fit in wheels from 20″ upwards in size. It comes with a warning that the maximum safe speed is 65 kilometres per hour – so this light isn’t for crazy hill descents, or for motorcycles.

I have run the M210 on the front wheel of the Schwinn Le Tour Sport for two months now and so far I have been very happy with it.

I still own the original monkey light and the M210 shows that they have taken on board all the customer feedback they received in the development of this new light.

monkeylectric m210

The main highlights are:

Ruggardization: The M210 looks a lot tougher than the original monkeylight, the circuitry has a thicker plastic coat and the battery compartment is sealed. I have ridden it through Swan River flood waters twice with no ill effects.

Weight distribution: Most of the weight is in the batteries, and having these mounted on the hub means that you don’t get the noticable wobble in the wheel that I had with the original.

User friendliness: The power on/off button is a different colour so it’s easy to know you are pressing the right button when you are on the bike. It is pretty easy to cycle through the designs and the packaging is the instructions – you can keep them tacked up on a wall somewhere for easy reference.

As the M210 is a ‘mini’ version it is not quite as crazily eye-catching as the original Monkeylight which had 32 LEDs (the M232 is the M210’s big brother if you still want that much colour). For my mind the 10 LED strip is a good thing, as with the original monkey light I actually got motorists horning me and yelling stuff at me from their car windows about the light. At times this extra audio feedback was not particularly welcome. There is a very small difference between ‘hey your light is awesome’ and ‘get off the road %#$**!’ when it is yelled out of the window of a passing car at 60kmh.

Now I mainly hear pedestrians say to one another ‘hey that light is pretty cool’ to each other as I ride on past.

I made a video to illustrate what it looks like in real world conditions. The first part of the video is what it looks like to the rider, and the second replicates what it might look like to cars waiting at an intersection.

Overall: For me the M210 is the perfect size and intensity. It looks pretty, adds to side on visibility (hopefully reducing the ‘sorry mate I didn’t see you’ or SMIDSY phenomenon) and the 8-bit preprogrammed patterns are pretty funky. The claimed run time is 40 hours, and I haven’t run the batteries flat yet. I suggest that you get yourself some rechargeable NiMH batteries so that this light remains environmentally friendly though. If you are after a nice bit of bling for your bike then you should consider one, or two of these guys 🙂

If you’re in Australia you can order directly from MonkeyLectric. If you are after something bigger and more eye-catching than the M210, you could always go for the M232, which has a whopping 32 LEDs and 42 themes to pump out brilliant light shows.

Full Disclosure: MonkeyLectric gave me a 50% off deal on the M210 to review on this blog. All other reviews on this blog are written without inducements of any kind from suppliers or manufacturers unless stated otherwise.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Reasons to Ride: Scaling Down

When you are on a bike, you aren’t insulated from the city you are travelling through. You have great vision with no windows or pillars in the way. You are travelling more slowly so details jump out at you. I took a little time to document my ride home so that you may share the riches I enjoy on my way home every day.

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You might hear, and then see a powerboat on the calm waters of the Swan, practicing for the upcoming Avon Descent race. The sun sets on the city in the background.

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I  quite enjoyed this small, and somewhat sloppy bicycle stencil on a wall between two principle shared paths.

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Upon seeing this very small stencil, you may break into a rendition of ‘C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, Cookie Cookie Cookie starts with C!”

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This red dog stencil looks a little like the iconic ‘dingo flour’ sign on a big old building down near Fremantle. I am not sure if the resemblance was deliberate, but it’s more food for thought as you pedal along.

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The sun will continue on it’s journey below the horizon as you continue on your journey home. The pink and orange hues reflect off the calm, glassy water.

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Humpty dumpty threatens to fall and break all over my bike… but you would never spot him from the road, or the train.

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Sometimes you find small signs that humans are in general good creatures. I hope the owner of the computer/heart rate monitor sees this sign before it rains again!

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Commuting, Reasons to Ride

 

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Everyday Cycling: More Xtracycle Adventures

Loaded Xtracycle Goodness

Loaded Xtracycle Goodness

I rode the Xtracycle to work this morning, in anticipation of picking up a Big Parcel from the post office on the way home. They left the parcel at the most annoying post office in my area, it is only open until 5pm on weekdays and is not open on Saturdays. I had to get out of work an hour early to get there with a decent buffer of time.

On the way back through the city I saw a guy who was walking his bike with a rather large box balanced precariously on his handlebars. He shouted over at me ‘I could do with one of those today’! I had a second look at his bike – it didn’t even have a rear rack. I figured if he had a rack he could at least have strapped the box to it. I think it was one of those ‘form over function’ bikes that look cool but fall down when expected to serve in unexpected ways. There is a reason why all my bikes (except the Giant TCR) have racks.

The post office wasn’t overly busy and I got my package from Bike 24. It contained my latest upgraded bits for my Surly Long Haul Trucker – a prebuilt Mavic 317-Shimano DH-3N72 26″ wheel (for a princely sum of 83,95 EUR), and a Busch & Muller Lumotech Cyo N Plus LED 175QNDi, and a Busch & Muller 4D’ Toplight Senso Multi LED Rear Light. When the woman behind the counter lifted the box I heard some rattling sounds. The box, while bulky, was pretty light and mainly empty.

I had to go grocery shopping after that, I got mainly fruit and vegetables as well as a fair few cans (baked beans and canned tomatos were on special).

When I loaded up the bike and got on I realised the groceries were significantly heavier than the Bike24 box, and I think I looked a bit silly riding leaned over to compensate for the weight.

I installed the new wheel and lights on the Surly this evening, and will start to test them out tomorrow. It was great to take the xtracycle out and haul things with it. There’s a certain sense of self-satisfaction (or smugness) that comes with cargo biking that is hard to beat!

The Lopsided Load

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Cargo bikes, Everyday cycling, xtracycle

 

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Owner Review: Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ Cyo Senso Plus LED Front Light 175QSNDi

Fork mounted B&M Lumotech IQ Cyo on my Bike Friday

Fork mounted B&M Lumotech IQ Cyo on my Bike Friday

I bought this light for my Bike Friday New World Tourist which I ordered custom with a Shimano dynamo hub built into the front wheel. It cost 50,34 euro from Bike24. The part of the blurb which sold me on this particular light was:

The Lumotec IQ Cyo light revolution: Dynamo headlight which is up to 500% brighter than required by German road traffic regulations (StVZO)! With IQ-technology for an even and homogeneous beam.

One can recognize a Lumotec IQ Cyo immediately. There is no bulb in the centre of the reflector. Instead, a high-powered LED is used as an indirect light source. One glance into the “empty” reflector makes it clear why Busch + Müller chose the slogan “nothing but light” for their IQ-TEC products. An elegant and concise statement that becomes a genuine sensation after dark: The useable lighted area of the Lumotec IQ Cyo is uniformly illuminated to a maximum extent and twice as wide as with conventional reflectors – simply “nothing but light”.

The Lumotec IQ Cyo features a standlight function with a capacitor. No batteries are required. The standlight function can be switched off by a turn-switch. Wether in the dark or in tunnels the Senso technology automatically activates the entire lighting system when the hub dynamo is in operation.

Any normal 6V dynamo can serve as power supply for the Lumotec IQ Cyo, so it can immediately be installed on any dynamo equipped bike.

Firstly, postage from Bike24 was SLOW. There was much hand-wringing in anticipation of the light’s arrival, as we were running out of time and were about to leave on our tour. The impression out of the box was excellent, though this is my first German designed dynamo-light, and I had high expectations. The light is tough, light, and in my short experience with it, unlikely to be stolen off the bike (to steal it requires an allen key and a small wrench to get it off the fork bracket).

Approx distance from camera: 100 metres, camera height: 30cm (sitting on a retaining wall)

The Good

It is much brighter than the $30 battery powered, handlebar mounted LED light that it has replaced, and even compares favorably to my Ayup lights which I had bought to share across a number of my other bikes. While it doesn’t have the retina-burning spot power of the Ay Up lights, the IQ Cyo has a vertical cutoff (so no complaining from oncoming cyclists on a dark bike path – which I sometimes get if my Ayups are pointed on slightly the wrong angle). The IQ Cyo also has a wider throw which means that you have better peripheral vision at night – great for dark country roads where animals (or pedestrians) might leap out at you unannounced.

Water resistance was thoroughly tested on tour and the light passed with flying colours. The standlight function has more than enough capacity for the longest wait at the traffic lights.

I was a bit worried about fork mounting putting the light too low on a 20″ wheeled bike, but it doesn’t seem to be detrimental to visibility, and it has left more room on the handlebars for other things, like my Otek DVS550 camera.

I have been converted to dynamo lights now, after umming and arring about them for at least a year. I have now ordered a dynamo hub (Shimano DH-3N72) and another version of this light (the Lumotec IQ Cyo Plus LED Front Light 175QDi for 46,13 euro) without the senso function for my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

The Bad

Not much bad to say about this light at all! The only disadvantage was that I had to unbolt it every time I packed the Bike Friday up into it’s travel case on tour. I couldn’t stand the thought of it getting scratched or bashed or squashed while it was still attached to my fork in the case and relatively unprotected.

While the ‘Senso’ function is useful because you don’t have to remember to turn your lights on, I find that I don’t use it. I always turn the light off when I get into the bike cage at work, otherwise it sits there shining until the capacitor is flat, and some ‘helpful’ person will come and turn it off for me anyway.

In Conclusion

This light gets a five star rating from me, although I don’t think I need the Senso function. I think dynamo lights are very, very valuable if you want a low maintenance commuter bike – they very rarely fail and you will never have to worry about flat batteries again!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Bike Friday, Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Ay Up Lights

ayups on crx

Ay Ups on my Giant CRX2

If you ride on the road at night, you may have experienced ‘invisible cyclist syndrome’ more than once. While a new set of lights won’t solve the problem completely, they certainly help. After browsing the Australian Cycling Forums, I decided to give Ay Up Lights a try. I have two handlebar mounts and share them between my Giant CRX2 and my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I chose British racing green, and I bought these before Ay Up did some upgrades to their lighting systems – so they are not as bright as the new versions. They still make my bike look like a motorbike though, and provide more than enough light to see in suburban situations.

The Good

These suckers are bright. I use them on low-beam most of the time as low-beam throws plenty of light for me to see by. I use high beam in dark situations (like the shared pathways near the river). The number of cars who fail to give way, either at roundabouts, or by pulling out of side streets in front of me, is reduced when I have the Ay Ups on my bars, as opposed to the Cateye Opticube that I had before.

The handlebar mount is secure and there is no danger of the lights coming detached and bouncing down the road at an inopportune moment (this is what ultimately killed my Cateye). The battery mount is versatile, so you can mount it wherever you have space. They are very waterproof and reliable in all weather.

They are an Australian company, if that kind of thing influences your purchasing decisions.

I also think they look really nice!

The Bad

You need to make sure the battery is always charged. These lights do not warn you when the battery is getting low by running dim – they just turn off when they don’t have enough juice. I have been caught out once, fortunately it wasn’t far from home.

The beam pattern does seem to waste light, as it has no vertical cut off – which means if you don’t point them downwards enough they can blind oncoming cyclists in low light situations. This is in contrast to my Lumotech Cyo IQ dynamo light which has a vertical cut off and a wider light spread – while it is not as bright as the Ay Ups, it provides a more useful light pattern.

ayup beam pattern

Ay Up beam pattern

The cost is obviously a serious consideration for some cyclists – especially when you can buy bright, cheap lights from Chinese manufacturers at places like Deal Extreme. I have seen many people go for different options because the cost of the Ay Ups turned them off.

The other issue is taking them off if you are parked outside the pub or something – the last thing you want is some passerby to swipe the lights as they walk past, and they are easy to remove, but a bit bulky in the pocket.

In Conclusion

Reliable, bright lights are an important part of a cyclists kit. With advances in LED and battery technology, the choices are many and varied. You can go for cheap DX lights – but they may not be as reliable in the rain. You can go for a dynamo light conforming to German design standards like my Lumotech IQ Cyo, but most bikes sold in Australia don’t come standard with hub dynamos, so that is a bit of a hassle. I love my Ay Ups and I am glad that I forked out the money for them. They are reliable and will last for many years to come.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Reviews

 

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