I ride with a brass bell and like it, but I find myself in a damned if I do, damned if I don't circumstances. Half of the time I use my bell, people give me a dirty look. When I don't use it, people also give me a dirty look or yell at me half the time. The other half of the time in both instances, most people are wearing headphones and are oblivious to anything going on around them.
I am lucky that I don't ride around cars too often, but I have in the past and I know my brass bell likely would not get the attention of someone piloting a motor vehicle. A horn on a bike is not a new idea, but reader George came up with a rather sophisticated DIY version. Take it away George . . .
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The key component is a 3 way 2 position manual valve that can be
found in specialized pneumatics & automation stores, choose
the smallest model. Now you can select the other components as
connectors, the "T" and the air hose diameter based on the size
of the valve and it's connections. Explain the schematics to the
owner, it helps to find the best solution available.
The schrader valve I took from an used inner tube, and the horn body from an used gas horn. To adapt those and the PET bottle cap to the connectors, I used bicomponent epoxy glue. It dries fast and seals tightly.
At last you'll have to improvise ways to fix the parts to the frame, since many things can vary. For instance, I used a rubber pad to put between the valve and the handlebar, tied with nylon wraps.
For safety avoid to put more than 80 PSI in the bottle, although I read it can hold more.
Some lights are great, but they don't come with the right hardware or interface to mount where you might like them. Reader Mike liked his Knog light, but his bike set up did not make it visible. He put on his thinking cap and came up with this great hack.
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I have a Knog rear light that mounts on the seat post. When mounted to the seatpost it was not visible when my trunk pack was on. Due to the way the light mounted, there was no way to screw it to the trunk pack so I made an extension.
Reader Bart got a bike from his mother and decided to make it decidely his own. His hacks are documented in the text and photos he provided below, and more pictures can be seen via his flickr account.
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I got this bike from my mother who now bought a newer one and it's roughly as old as me (28) but it drives as a brand new one (good maintenance I guess).
So here's what I "hacked" . . .
I first made a small rear cargo box with some old planks from a big used fruit cargo box. You can still see the countries on the side of the box where the fruit was sent between "OHIA" (maybe Ohio?) and "TUNIS" (Tunis of ofcourse). Glued & screwed the planks together and gave it a layer of "Boat"-Varnish.
Then I've found some leather slabs when cleaning out someones basement and made some leather straps with it. They're not that strong but it's mainly to keep down some light-weight stuff (like a jacket of a bottle of wine) when driving on cobblestone roads. They are screwed in place as you can see in the pictures.
Then I also made a small container out of a used silicone glue tube (for latex gloves when the chain slips off, an extra strong strap for holding down larger stuff & a plastic shopping bag).
The "lid" or "cap" is just a spray paint cover that slides over the container. The red tape makes sure the container is the right diameter so the cap/lid is kept tight on.
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Because I also had a wheel with a built-in generator laying around I replaced the entire electronics. I first made a small box containing 4 rechargeable batteries that get charged by the generator. They also give power to the front & backlight when the switch is turned "ON."
Then I also replaced the light bulbs from the old lights with high energy LED's. (I kept the lamp frames because they are old looking and fit the bike type & also they are not that attractive to thieves instead of brand new shiny LED lamps).
This way my lights will never fail because of empty batteries and they will keep burning even when I'm standing still (in front of a red light for example).
I live in a city where cars are king so they don't pay much attention. This way by keeping my light on when standing still I don't risk not getting seen by the cars.
And at last I made a simple chain guard with an electric cable tube I still had laying around (seen this example many times already) and it works fine. I first had a chain guard that fully covered my chain and this is just terrible for when the chain slips of and you have to put your chain back on.
Thank you to the readers who submitted comments for our BikeWrappers giveaway. As a reminder, here is the obvious selling point of BikeWrappers . . .
. . . and here is the picture readers commented on to try to get their own set.
Brent from BikeWrappers selected reader Dave as the winner. His submission was -
Saw this and thought of you.
Myself? I was surprised that what I thought was the most obvious caption did not get submitted - Blade Runner =)
Dave, shoot us an email to claim your prize.
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BikeHacks is a huge fan of the Monkey Light. I have been rocking the Monkey since last December and love it. Dan, the inventor of the Monkey Light, graciously agreed to an interview. Enjoy!
BH: Are you an avid rider? What bike(s) do you currently own?
I've been a more and less serious rider for about 20 years. I first started biking around 8th grade because we had a bike touring club in my school. I remember it was very liberating once I learned I could bike 20 miles all by myself, basically go anywhere. Teenage car liberation, no car required! Now I like bike touring a lot. I've done a race here and there but I never liked the competitiveness much. I bike around the city as well.
Bikes-my main ride is an unbranded titanium MTB frame that I built up with XT components and 650c road wheels. I prefer MTB frames and components (minus the shock) even for road riding - it's pretty hilly here in nocal :)
I've got a Stumpjumper hardtail for actual MTB riding, I did a 30 hour adventure race with that bike. I've got a 100% plastic frame custom art bike that i assembled (my friend did the CAD design) and then installed custom LED edge lighting into it. I ride the plastic bike to the movies sometimes! It's a fun ride, but super wobbly. I've got a Haro Betty cruiser in hot pink that I did a custom lighting job, my lady rides that sometimes. Also a Haro bmx bike, I just learned to do a bar spin on it last year! I think I've got about 5 more besides that but I gotta clean up the garage sometime yikes!
The Plastic Bike
BH: What is your educational background?
If your mom asks you why you went to school for 23 years, do not crack up when you say: 'to make awesome bike lights!!!'
BH: Is the Monkey Light part of a side gig or do you design full time?
It started out as a side gig for sure, at the time I was working on Instructables.com and Electronic Rope, which was a Time magazine invention of the year. I made the first "Monkey light" system as an art project. Perhaps the transformative moment - I was riding by a real sharp scraper in West Oakland, a metallic green buick with the big rims, tinted windows, thumping stereo . . . this guy rolls down his window and with smoke pouring out, he says to me - 'nice ride'.
BH: How did the idea of the light originate?
The basic idea has been around forever, at least 30 years. There's been lots of toy implementations in clocks, computer fans - and bikes. I personally got the idea at a hacking club at MIT, that club (miters) was into bikes and electronics, so it was almost a coming of age thing where every new electrical engineer in the club would build their own wheel light. Adafruit's SpokePOV kit also came from that hacking group. My light was the first one to have full color.
BH: How long did it take to go from concept to ready for sale product?
Hmm, well I was riding around my original art wheel in 2005, then it was on the back burner for quite a while. I started developing the current product in 2007, and Xander Hudson came on board about that time also, he had just seen the art wheel at Maker Faire and was excited about the possibilities. We had 30 prototype units riding around San Francisco by December 2007 and we released the commercial product in May 2008. Then we sold out the first manufacture run in 6 weeks!
BH: Why did you call it the "Monkey Light"?
Why are they called 'The Beatles?'
BH: Where do you live and what is the furthest place from where you live that the Monkey Light has shipped?
Our web store went live in June 2008. With little more than Google Adwords for marketing we've shipped orders to practically every part of the globe - Punta Arenas, Tasmania, Mauritius, Latvia, it's really mindboggling how the internet has connected the entire world. There are people in the most remote places and they are on all the same websites that you are every day.
BH: Have you developed any other bike related products or do you have anything in the hopper?
We've developed a fully functioning video display in a bike wheel, it's the first one ever developed. We've also got some new consumer level products coming out later this year that we've very excited about. Gotta keep those in the bag for now though ;)
BH: What inspires you? What resources do you use for inspiration?
I've been really inspired by our customers. Many of them are quite dedicated to a bike lifestyle and write us long emails about their experiences and their local bike culture.
BH: What is your own bike hack that you are the most proud of?
The Monkey Light for sure. I've got several fun ones on my Instructables page - instructables.com/member/dan. I recommend the wobbly bike (aka swing bike) as a great "my first freak bike" project. At an even more modest scale I'm a fan of using old innertubes as chain/cable/frame protectors. Just slit them and wrap! And they come in handy for bundling an extra jacket onto the frame if you get hot.
BH: Dan is the man. Now go get your Monkey on!
Sometimes I see a hack that is so brilliantly simple and cool I wonder why I did not think of it. This hack submitted by Midge from across the pond is one such hack. Enjoy.
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I was a bit peeved with those ugly plastic brackets that spoiled the lines of my beautiful bike so I came up with this ten minute cliplight hack. It's cobbled together with a Poundland rear light (are they called Dollar Stores in the US?), two thin zip ties and a sturdy wooden clothes peg.
The assembly's pretty straightforward, note that one of the peg arms is cut to accommodate the button and there's a small filed groove to channel one of the cable ties. A quick dash of paint to taste and Bobs your Aunties live in lover, one cheap as noodles cliplight.
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Riding in an urban environment can be intimidating as cyclists must go toe-to-toe with pedestrians, cars, other cylists, the weather, bugs ,wildlife, and road hazzards. I kind of like the challenge, but others on the road might want to eliminate as many obstacles/hazzards as possible.
The greatest hazzard is probably falling over and when I was in NYC recently I spotted what appeared to be a stabilization system to avoid falling over -
Over years I have seen many three wheeled bicycles, but I had never seen an "adult" set of training wheels. I did quick Google search and these appear to be a set of Evo EZ Adjust Training Wheels.
I'm for anything that makes people more comfortable on the roads, and I might just need a set in about 30 or 40 years if I keep up my commuting lifestyle.
We decided that a photo caption contest might be fun and reader Brian from Cincinnati, Ohio submitted a photo we thought would be good for this contest. Brian writes:
My roommate is on co-op this summer at Daniel Island Charleston, South Carolina and though he doesn't ride (yet), he was aware enough to snap a pic and send it to the house bike fanatic. Huge Big-Wheel style saw blade front wheel, car rims with white 12" tires for back wheels, custom built frame and well worn saddle. Truly incredible.
Thanks Brian! So here's the deal - to be considered for your own set of BikeWrappers leave a comment with a caption for the picture. It's that simple. It could be a name for the bike, a witty one liner . . . whatever. Enter as many times as you wish and we will take entries until Friday, June 14. We will select one winner and that person will receive a set of BikeWrappers to review.
New York City food delivery bikes feature some of the best hacks, and when mixed with style you get true awesomeness. Check out this delivery whip I stumbled upon -
Old compact discs are everywhere for reflective protection, and check out the custom moose mitts.
From the looks of it the owner took some old oil containers and shredded them for extra style points. With the poor paint job I think this bike takes home the prize for the coolest delivery steed I have ever seen. This was confirmed when the random dude in the first picture said, "Totally sweet ride, right?!"