It’s no secret visibility when riding at night and in low light conditions is critical to your safety as a cyclist. Many riders rely on traditional, and legally required, front and rear light combinations to be seen, but this often doesn’t provide you with adequate side-on visibility to other road users.
Aiming to be the solution, bicycle wheel lights are one of the newest and most innovative cycling gadgets to appear on the market. Being a new lighting concept, options are currently few in numbers but are quickly growing.
As bike wheels are often the farthest point both to the front and rear of the bike, wheel lights provide a number of benefits to the rider beyond what a traditional handlebar, helmet or seatpost mounted light can offer. Being mounted lower and closer to the ground, obstacles and imperfections at ground level are easier to notice. Rearward projecting wheel lights provide a larger and more noticeable light source ensuring greater visibility to road users approaching from the side or behind.
On the downside, wheel lights typically don't offer the same level of 'seeing' light as those designed for handlebar mounting and so they should be considered a compliment and addition to traditional front and rear lights. They also add rotating mass to your bike and so may not be favoured by more performance-focused riders. Finally, you'll need to ensure your wheels and bike are compatible prior to purchase.
With all that, we have rounded up a select few wheel light options that are sure to keep you safe and visible regardless of the time of day. The light options listed below will feature a number of different lighting and mounting options sure to suit any need.
Monkey Electric Monkey Light M232
Monkey Electric are a well known bike wheel light brand available in the US market. For those wanting a full wheel display, the Monkey Light M232 features a hub mounted battery, lasting up to 20 hours. This powers 32 full-color LED’s creating thousands of amazing patterns in your spinning wheel. Emitting 200 lumens of brightness the M232 offers 360º visibility and is fully waterproof.
Revolights was originally launched in 2011 following a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring bicycle wheel lights to the masses. Their Eclipse model (pictured), priced at $149, is a complete headlight and smart brake light solution that features 360º visibility and is designed to fit 700c/27” wheels, making it an excellent lighting option for commuters and road cyclists. The lights themselves attach at the base of the wheel rim, on both the left and right sides.
For those wanting more functionality, there is also an Eclipse+ model, priced from AU$325.00 (US$249), which builds on the standard Eclipse with the addition of Bluetooth connectivity to the Revolights App. This app enables a number of smart features, including the ability to program turn signals, display battery status and give weather alerts.
Nori Lights v.2
Nori Lights originated in 2011 after the inventor, Chris Flynn, was almost struck by a vehicle whilst riding home from work one evening. Approaching from side-on, the driver of the vehicle was unable to see his front or rear facing lights.
The Nori Lights v.2 is the latest iteration, providing a wheel lighting system that ensures riders be seen side-on. Featuring a 6mm LED strip mounted around the rim of the wheel that connects wirelessly to a fork pod mounted that activates the lights. This emits a bright electric green glow like an aura around the bike which is spectacular when viewed first hand, making certain that riders can be seen by other road users.
Nite-Ize Spokelit LED Wheel light
The Nite Ize Spokelit, priced from $9.95, is a cost-effective and simpler way to increase your visibility and safety when out riding at night. The lights attach to the spokes of any common three spoke cross pattern wheel, meaning there are no tools required for installation. The lights themselves have a runtime of up to 25 hours and are mounted in a shock and weather resistant housing. They’re available in 2 bright colors, Red and Disc-O, which cycles through the color spectrum.
Cateye Orbit 2
Similar to the Nite-ize system above, Cateye, a pioneer of the bike light game, have their own spoke based lighting system. Priced at $20, the Orbit 2 is the second iteration of the spoke light concept, with improvements being made to the LED's and housing used. The light itself utilizes the legendary Cateye reflector technology in a weatherproof housing. Powered by two CR2032 batteries, the light attaches to any common three spoke cross pattern wheel. Run times are approximately 30 hours in constant mode, extending out to approximately 50 hours on flashing mode.
Whether you’re wanting to be more visible on the road or just want to add some color to your ride, a bicycle wheel lighting system could be an additional solution to ensure you can both see and be seen whilst out riding after dark. If you want to know more about choosing bike lights, our buyer's guide to bicycle lights will provide you with a wealth of knowledge to make an informed purchase.
Opening image courtesy of Revolights