Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Installing The M210 Mini Monkey Light Bike Light - And A Review

One of the things I dislike the most about cycling in Dallas is riding at night; I never feel like I am visible enough. One option is to dress like a cellphone while I ride so that drivers will pay attention to me. The other is to light myself up like a Christmas tree and pray that I catch someone's eye so they don't kill me on their way home.

My current commuting kit. 

That's where the Monkeylight comes in. Blinkies, headlights, and taillights are important, but being seen from the side (and more importantly), getting a distracted drivers attention, is the harder part of the equation. The Monkeylight accomplishes both of those things easily and in a very neat way.

First, the install; the package includes everything you see below. The light, the batteries, zip ties, and a metal "anti - theft" strap, along with stickers and some tiny spoke cards - or maybe trading cards, I'm not sure.

It's in the bag, baby. 

My first thought when I saw the Monkeylight was that it's just a circuit board, and will never last. What you can't see in the pictures is that the board is completely enclosed in resin or rubber, protecting it from the elements. The Monkeylight is very solidly built, and makes my bike look super Hi-Tech to to boot.

This thing is sealed up. 

Installing is pretty straightforward - zip tie the board to the spokes as shown.

Zip ties are my duct tape anyway.

Zip tie the battery cylinder to the hub, on the opposite side of the wheel from the light itself; this is to keep the wheel balanced. I don't question the idea of balancing the setup, but I do question wether the weight of the batteries is offset by the weight of the light itself. I didn't weigh them, but the light board didn't seem like it weighed as much as 3 AA batteries.

That black thing is the waterproof battery cylinder

Once installed, turn it on and pedal away. There is both a high and a low setting on the light, and a lot of patterns to choose from - and that is where it's at. Blinking lights are fine, of course, but I'm banking on getting some attention with this thing. Zigzags, hearts, stripes, triangles, and more are generated by the wheel movement. That might make someone look twice; at least that's what I'm hoping for. The Monkeylight isn't only visible from the side, as the LED lights are super bright and throw enough light out to light up the street underneath the bike.

This isn't a great video, but it's hard to capture the effect by myself. This gives you an idea. Below is an "official" video to show you what it really looks like "on the streets" yo.

I didn't weigh the unit, and unless my readers speak up and tell me you need that, I'm not going to start weighing the stuff I review. This weighs as much as six AA batteries, essentially, so if you are a weight weenie, this isn't for you. I'm betting that if you read this blog, you are more of a commuter, and visibility is more important than a few ounces of weight. This thing is super bright, and I don't think there is a better way to make yourself visible from the side - and have a good time doing it.

It is hard to photograph stickers on a chrome frame. 

Oh, I forgot the last step - I had to install a sponsor sticker on the Bloggipede. I am very impressed by the Monkeylight - at $49.99 it is an excellent value - as long as it holds up to extended use. I do expect it to hold up just fine, as it seems very well built. I will report the extended test results in a couple of months, so be on the lookout for that report soon.

The M210 Mini Monkey Light LED is available here for $49.99, and will be shipping in February.


  1. If I saw someone like the top photo, I'd honk if I were driving or look into air horns to carry on my bike. And being a bike commuter doesn't mean we don't get all silly over a trivial amount of weight. Personally I see little value to side lights and CPSC tests agree with me. You have other data?

  2. At first I thought the top photo was what you were reviewing. I have to agree that side lights are not that effective with the traffic that is parallel to your travel.

  3. I don't have any data, no. However, logic dictates that the more visible you make yourself, the more chance you have to make it home. People "don't see" bikes all of the time, and I think if you are rocking multi colored led wheel lights that make a pattern, that goes out the window. This thing is BRIGHT and eye catching, and might be what makes the difference. Having an ultra bright front and rear are great, but in the dark, where distracted divers don't expect bikes anyway, I advocate a side light.

  4. And I'll sacrifice a few ounces for light any day. I don't carry a ton of stuff on my commuter bike, so I think the payment/reward is worthwhile, form a small amount of weight perspective. For brightness/cost/visibility I think they are well worth the $50 as well. Front and rear is good, but there is a reason that semis on the dark highway light themselves up - any chance to catch someone's eye is a good one, data or no data. It's not all about front or rear, it's about (for me anyway) trying to jar jar drivers out of their stupor.

  5. I think this devise is pretty cool. I've recently started cycling to work a couple times a week. It's fun and it saves on gas. As it got darker in the evenings, i was concerned that i would not be seen to motorist and I find the simple front light and rear blinking read light insufficient for safety. So I attached some led lights to my bike and a batteries to get the 12V. needed to power them. Below is a link to see a video of my bike. Since this video, i've added more blue led's to the side and several red led's to the rear and i added a 12v. marine deep cycle battery to the bike to power these led's and to power them for a long long time. Yes, this battery made my bike heavier but it's worth it for the extra visibility and most of all, it's just fun. My bike is heavy enough with a gym bag strapped to the back of the bike filled with work clothes and meals.

  6. nice. I also found something quite useful and interesting. It's called anvii lights. It's not commonly seen here in San Jose, but I like the shape and the program features. Here is their video

  7. I have been using the standard Monkey Lights for three winters in Stockholm and this is my conclusion: They make people happy, busdrivers, motorists, pedestrians* and cyclists. And happy people behave nice.
    *)"look mom, hes got magic gems on his bike!" as one kid said.

  8. I'm with Pelle, although the stiff-upper-lipped Brits seem a little harder to make happy. I mainly get shy glances and the odd half-smile ;-).
    I have a fair amount of fast downhill cycling, and side roads would be a lot more of a worry without my (standard) monkey lights.
    Bea (Leeds)

  9. led replacement lights use less energy than incandescent bulbs and Xenon festoons, and produce no harmful UV rays. With only trace heat signatures, have become a favorite for sensitive products retail display cabinets in marketing.

  10. The motorcycle hids work phenomenon totally different from traditional halogen filaments. The light is created by an arc (spark) of electricity in a special mixture of gases (including xenon) and metal salts.

  11. Received mine today. My concern was people pulling out onto the road from my right side, and plowing into me. Or, people entering an intersection without seeing that I am currently there. Front and rear lights are great, but we're not overly visible from the sides. This, or lights that illuminate the sides, should help.

  12. To balance the wheel, you don't want the battery to be the same weight as the light, they are at different distances from the hub so the light should be much lighter than the battery pack. A simple test - if the wheel is set so that the battery pack and light are horizontally opposite each other, does the wheel turn either way? If not, then it's balanced. Otherwise, great review. Cheers!

  13. You can also get & ride with this sparkling miracle on Latvian roads. Just check out ;)