MonkeyLectric make bike wheel lights that are funky and practical. Their lights look cool and make you incredibly visible at night. I got in touch with Phil from MonkeyLectric to find out more.
Hello Phil, what is MonkeyLectric and what do you do there?
At MonkeyLectric, we manufacture amazing bicycle wheel lights that make your ride more fun while helping keep you visible. Our simplest lights make a set of colorful rings on your wheel and our highest-end professional model allows you to put your own videos onto a bicycle wheel using an app on your iPhone.
We're a small company of 6, so we all do a lot of different tasks. I am general manager, so overall, I try to make sure things run well.
How did it all start? Do you remember the exact moment when you thought “Hmmm...I think we’re onto something”?
Our founder Dan started everything by making a light as an art project for his bike back in 2007. A number of people stopped him on separate occasions and asked him how they could get one too. This happened often enough that it eventually led to his decision to try to start a company around the lights.
We really like the M232 Monkey Lights. Those light patterns are seriously cool. The lightning bolts are our favourite (number 27). Which is your favourite pattern?
Thank you! Our M232 is our top seller. My personal favorite is number 38. It looks kind of like a soccer ball.
But that's just me. I asked around the office to see what other people liked:
- Chloe likes elephants, in pink (number 17)
- John likes the "blend" pattern (number 9) in rainbow
- Aaron likes the impossible shape (number 35)
- Justin's favorite is people holding hands (number 24) in rainbow
- Dan likes the Space Alien (number 13) in red
Monkey Lights are made in California. How important is it to make your lights locally?
It's quite important to us. We realized that we had a really unique process for making our lights and that we had a lot more control and flexibility over our manufacturing if we did it ourselves. If changes need to be made, we can do so more quickly, and the costs are comparable to having it done in another country.
We also take pride in doing a lot of the making ourselves and being an employer in our community.
It’s great some of your team are involved in community projects. What is the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition?
We've done events with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bike East Bay. Both are advocacy groups that make cycling easier and safer for everyone in our area. We all commute by bike to work, and we all realize the benefits of safer streets, more available bike lanes, and greater awareness of cyclists on the road.
What are some of the best cycling events that happen in your area?
There are a lot of good ones. Some of them that I've enjoyed off of the top of my head are:
- Biketoberfest Marin - A great event combining bikes and a lot of local breweries in Marin County, CA, the birthplace of mountain biking.
- AIDS Lifecycle - A 545-mile, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money and awareness to fight against HIV and AIDS. I believe that it is the world's largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser.
- Pedalfest - a local celebration of bikes in Oakland, CA
- Tour de Fat - New Belgium's annual bike and beer festival
The 2016 Instructables Bicycle Contest recently ended. Could you tell us what that was, and choose some of your favourite entries?
Our judges chose a project where a maker designed a picnic box that fit perfectly into the front triangle of his bike.
My personal favorite was a bike that transformed between a tall bike and a chopper.
The Space Dragons Bike Adventure video is awesome. It was a psychedelic / 8-bit treat! Do you plan to release anymore videos like that? I could see this becoming a series.
Thanks! We wanted to make a dreamy, fun, fantastical video for our riders. We hadn't made plans to make a series out of it, but if we have enough positive feedback, we could certainly make that happen!
What cycling gifts would you recommend?
There are some fantastic items out there, and some that come to mind are:
the See.Sense bike light:
SealSkinz waterproof gloves (great for winter cycling, especially since it has rained here almost nonstop for the last week):
Showers Pass rain gear in general (also great for winter cycling):
For the kids, the Little Nutty helmets from Nutcase:
And we are big fans of your lock, too!
What’s your top 3 bicycling films or documentaries?
I asked our staff for their favorites:
A Sunday in Hell
Triplets of Belleville
Finally, if you could have any bicycle, past of present, what would it be?
Ooh, that's a hard one. I don't want to have this bike, but I do want to try it:
I used to be much more into mountain biking when I was younger, and I thought that this bike was amazing when I was in high school.
These days, I wouldn't mind having a Salsa Colossal to ride around. We have too many bikes already, so the chances of me getting one is very slim!