Monkeylectric contacted me. Man, was I excited! I have known about their wheel lights for a long time and have thought that they are a very clever concept to increase your visibility on your bicycle. It’s fall season right now and Day Light Savings just ended in the US. It’s dark. It’s rainy (Pacific NW!). Having something like the M204 monkeylight on my bike is going to be awesome! At least I think. Let’s find out.
I got the package yesterday. It was small and light and just as expected: a manila shipping envelope. I ripped it open and pulled out the M204. There’s not much to this system (which is great). Monkeylectric has done a decent job of minimizing the amount of packaging that is used here. They’ve doubled the folding external brochure to include all of the information on the system and the basic concepts to run it. Installation procedures and warnings come on a separate piece of paper in very easy to understand pictures.
According to the informational kit, this system kicks out 40 lumens (not much), has 4 LED lights, has full color capabilities, can be seen in a 360 degree view, is waterproof and has 5 color themes. That’s a lot of things. Let’s dig into them, shall we?
First off, 40 lumens isn’t a whole lot for most bike light applications. But, let’s be honest. You’re not going to rely on this light system to illuminate the dark path in front of you while you’re riding home at night. The M204 may help light the path, but if you’re looking for something to light up a path, you’d better look for something else. This 40 lumens is meant to illuminate your (typically) dark sides (bonus points for those of you thinking about Star Wars, right now). Because most bike lights are focused on illuminating things in front of you and putting a light behind you so people can see you, you’re sides are typically left bare (and dark). This is where the M204 steps up to shine.
The 4 LED lights make the pattern variations possible. I think that this design is very clever. It’s simple, functional and gets the job done. This equates to good design in my book. You can adjust the 4 LED’s cycle by pressing the power button. There are 2 modes here: full and strobe. The strobe setting doubles your battery life (and my cause a seizure). There is a full range of color capabilities with these LED’s and the only place that you’ll see it is in one of the 5 color themes that are pre-programmed.
My initial impression of the system is positive. It’s a great little package that gets the intended job done. After playing with it a bit tonight, I could see people being interested in making their own custom designs. If that person is you, I would recommend that you check out their light systems for professionals. At $895.00, this isn’t anything to scoff at. The example designs are amazing, though!
I’ll update this post later after I’ve used the light for a couple of weeks. Check back then!
You can see the M204 and more of what Monkeylectric has to offer by visiting their website here.
Alright, I’m back to give you an update after monkeying around with this light. Putting this light on my bike was pretty straight forward. The only problem that I had with the installation was the fact that my spokes were too wide near the rim to get the light very far out towards the tire. I think that this would be the optimal position for mounting this type of light because the speed of the wheel (revolution) is the fastest at this point (diameter). You can see in the picture below, I was only able to mount the light plate about four inches from the hub.
With the light mounted in this position, I was fairly disappointed in the look of the light as I was riding. I don’t think I’m the slowest rider (definitely not the fastest), but the revolution of the light at this position did not look anything like most of the promotional images that Monkeylectric has. And for this, I was disappointed. I wanted to have this solid ring of color flashing around my wheel while I was riding.
As it was, the light only provided the best side lighting on the market. Ho hum. But seriously, if you’re looking for a light that will illuminate your side the best, this is a great option. The light does spin around on your wheel and it does create a good visual for drivers that would be coming from your side so that they can see you better.
As you can see in the video above, the light is very visible (even at my fastest speed, haha). However, it looks nothing like the solid stripe of light that is on most promotional material from Monkeylectric.
Using the light was really easy once it was mounted on my bike. Everything stays mounted (thieves be damned) and you just click the handy buttons on the light to get to the right settings you want (light pattern/color and intensity). Once set, you’re off for a fun night ride. Even changing the batteries when they go out will be easy. There is an easy screw off cap to remove and then you take the batteries out, pop in fresh (rechargeable, hopefully) batteries and you’re good. If you want a more theft proof option, Monkeylectric does provide metal bands that can hold the system onto your wheel. Just make sure to remove or lockup your wheel before leaving your bike.
Overall, this is a nice system. Easy to setup, easy to use and it has the functionality that it is intended to provide.