I noted a while back that the fine folks at Monkeylectric sent along a beta sample of their newest product offering for me to test. I have been very pleased with my original Monkey Light and the new Mini Monkey looks as good or better than the original. Here is the Mini as it came in the mail.
On the back of the paper hang tag are the instructions which are quite straightforward.
It comes with zip ties (including a metal security tie), dampeners (to put between the light and spokes), and some cards and stickers as well.
The light itself is remarkably light and there is a cable that runs from the light to the battery canister, which is meant to be attached to the wheel hub. It runs on three AA batteries.
One might notice that there are two plugs that come out of the battery canister. While the Mini Monkey comes standard with one light, you can actually buy an extra light and run it off the same battery canister. This is a great product improvement in my opinion.
I am not 100% sure, but I think in some of the videos and pictures on the Monkeylectric site and on the Internet many of the bikes featured actually have two Monkey Lights installed on the same wheel. One installed unit does not quite give me the design effects that I sometimes see demonstrated.
The original Monkey Light is a "stand alone" unit. The light and batteries are all one unit, like most every other bike light out there. If you install two, you need two sets of batteries which also adds weight. Here is a picture of the first Monkey Light (Mega Monkey maybe?) on my front wheel.
To elaborate a bit more, this light has 16 lights that display on both sides of the bike. There is a waterproof battery pack on the opposite side and it runs on 3 AA batteries. I have ridden with it for at least two years now through any sort of weather condition you might imagine and it has performed like a total champ. I get comments on it all the time. If I wanted to add a second light like this on the front wheel however, I would need a totally separate light and another three batteries.
The way the Mini Monkey is designed will allow you to add the extra punch without extra batteries or weight. The light itself weighs almost nothing so adding an extra one to your wheel is not a burden. And you can run the cords from the lights to the canister on the hub, which is attached by two zip ties. The canister has a screw top and water is not likely to find its way in.
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The mini has five lights that display on both sides. And another feature of both is that they have high and low settings. The high setting is brighter and burns your batteries faster and the low is dimmer and does not take as much power. I run my on dim all the time and the lower setting is perfectly fine as far as visibility. I should also mention that you can press different buttons to change the color(s) and pattern(s). As far as battery life, my night commute is about 30 minutes and my rechargeable AA batteries will last a good couple of months. Colder weather does cause batteries in all lights to wear out a bit faster.
As far as how they look, video is the best way to get an idea so here you go. I just flipped my bike upside down to make it easy. The original Monkey Light is on the left and the new mini is on the right. Both make it almost impossible not to be seen from the side. They are both set to random factory patterns, but if you want to set them to certain patterns and colors you can.
Do you have a light you rave about? Feel free to contact us to do your own review if you like.