Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Geek meets practical

My friend Frank (who knows me very well) sent me this link to an article on how to make your own Tron-style lightcycle using electroluminescent wire. (It's fun watching him go in circles. Observe:)

It reminded me of the guy who lives here in Ottawa, who I used to see regularly last winter along the Canal, with the entire frame of his bike wrapped in Christmas lights. Well, that's one way to make sure you're seen, and it was kind of cheery to be pedaling home from work after dark and come across a constellation of coloured lights heading up the path toward you. My co-worker spotted him - at least, we think it was him, although to my knowledge there were two bikes with Christmas lights on them last winter - down near Preston one night, and came to work the next day to tell me she wished she'd had a camera so she could show me.

But that sacrifices a certain level of . . . well, cool. Not to mention efficiency. Hard to attach panniers to a bike festooned with lights. Your legs might get in the way too.

But then I followed the links from the 'lightcycle' article. I love 'related links.' There's the impractical, massively expensive and slightly silly - yet somehow still cool - Tron lightcycle reproduction motorcycle from Parker Brothers Choppers... but that's not what I was really interested in. What I was interested in was EL wire. Check this stuff out.

Now, visibility at night is one of those things I bitch at other cyclists about. When I'm in a car and we pass a cyclist with no lights and a black hoodie on, it bugs me. But I can see how it might cramp your style to wear one of those bright orange reflector vests, and everyone has those Turtle lights, where's the individuality in that? And, well, I'm a geek. When I say I've considered putting refective tape on my helmet or the back of my jacket, I mean I've considered putting reflective tape on my helmet in a nifty - and by nifty I mean geeky - pattern. The Eye of Sauron, maybe, or the symbol of the Galactic Empire. 

But that's not nearly as cool as making a Tron backpack.

(On a related note, another geeky-yet-cool innovation is the 'portable bike lane' I wrote about last year. I need more spare time. And a workshop.)


  1. HPVOoO used EL wire in their float for last year's Santa Claus parade to make a bike train. Search YouTube for HPVOoO or check out the gallery at http://hpv.tricolour.net for photos and videos.

  2. Now that I've read it more closely--the panniers is where you put the battery pack!

    As seen on this swing bike.

    Direct link to photos of the EL wire train, mentioned in the previous comment.

    - RG>

  3. Doing up your bike in EL-wire is pretty much de rigueur for Burning Man. Good to see people getting creative here in Ottawa, too

  4. For those who can't do it themselves (like me), Monkeylights look pretty cool in motion.