Picture of Automatic Bicycle Handlebar End Lights
D:\My Documents\My Pictures\Animation\1Reed.gif

This Instructable will teach you step-by-step how to integrate automatically illuminating LED's into the ends of your bicycle's handlebars.

The lights operate using a reed switch and magnet so very little permanent modification of the stock handlebars is required. The only irreversible alteration required for this project is holes for the lights drilled into the handlebar end plugs. This modification can be done to any bicycle in an afternoon using only basic hand and power tools. If you decide to do this modification to your bike please take some pictures and I will post them here.

There are two main groups of people who I think could benefit from these lights. The first group is comprised of anyone who owns a bicycle. Much like books are great for people who can read, and cars are purchased most frequently by people who can drive; these lights are perfect for the bicycle owners of the world.

The second group of people who could benefit from these lights would be people who do not own bicycles. I know what you are thinking, "Without a bicycle where would they put the lights?" I thought of that too. The best solution I could come up with is that people in this second group should buy bicycles and join the popular kids in group one. As writer Iris Murdoch once wrote, "The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."

The scope of this instructable is limited to bicycles with mountain bike style handlebars. This system could be easily adapted for road style "dropped" bars or even motorcycles but in an effort to maintain focus; those areas will not be explored in this guide.

Table of Contents

Intro- Project Overview and Table of Contents
Step 1- Parts List
Step 2- Parts Detail
Step 3- Inspiration and Development Background Information
Step 4- Design and Component Overview
Step 5- Circuit Construction
Step 6- Circuit Instalation
Step 7- FAQ's
Step 8- Bicycle Quotes
Step 9- Alternate Trigger Design and Other Information

The next step contains a full parts list.
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Has anybody ever thought of making a turn-signal on a bike with a device that is similar to car indicators?? e.g When you turn the handle-bars it automatically puts on the right indicators and when you pull on the brakes, it brings on a stop light ?? :)
A number of people have done one or more bicycle brake lights, triggered by lever pull. I am planning to do this soon myself.
I can foresee a problem or two with the automatic turn indicators. Even in a car (at least the ones I've driven), you have to turn the indicators on manually. But they CANCEL automatically. I think with a bike, you would probably want to activate the turn signals manually also; this gives other traffic a bit of warning time. As for auto-cancel on a bike, hmmm. I'll think about that. Scooters and motorcycles have turn indicators, but they are manual on, manual off. (At least the ones, etc.)
BobQDobbs7 years ago
The anti theft bike taser idea you describe has been on my mind for years. Forget it - it may be technically legal but if anyone is seriously injured or killed you will be legally responsible, if caught. The alarm idea is brilliant. Flame thrower would be nice - and would also help with visibility I think >;/ - but again - liability is a beeyatch.
Hmmm... How to fit pressurized fuel inside the handlebars? I'll have to think on this one for a bit, but it must be completed. For Science!!! :-D
Not if there is a big sign on the side of your bike that warns of electric shock!!!
Will the sign be in every language? What about illiterates, blind people, children, pets? Very, very sketchy.
Yeah but, no offence to blind people here, why would a blind person steal a bike??
No, see, it would work the same way a company can have an electric fence around their property. All you have to do is have a sign.
Hmm, good point - let us know if you develop a prototype! Thanks
Handsome-Ryan (author)  BobQDobbs6 years ago
You are correct about liability but let's be honest- Who here wouldn't like the satisfaction of knowing that some creep felt the sting of 800,000 volts when they tried to steal your bike.
kkaaij3 years ago
Nice post mate. Did somethin similar to my fixie. wired a set of 8 AA's in series to power these automotive LED's. concealed it all in the handlebars and but a low profile button switch onder the handle bar tape.
anyoldmouse4 years ago
Reed switches...very clever. I like the idea, but wouldn't you want lights to point forward or backward instead of out to the sides? You already have reflectors on your spokes so cars can see you when they're perpendicular to you. My concern is that a single LED's output is so small that even if a driver saw it, that they wouldn't think you were a big firefly.
mr. clean5 years ago
you should try adding a solar pannel and a rechargeable tripple A or double A.
Aston Wolf5 years ago
Is there any way to invert the switch-on system? So the light will be on when you take off your hand from the handlebar, say when you are pointing your direction.
Neat instructable Instead of using the reed switch you could use a darlington pair or transistors as a touch sensor and just wrap two pieces of wire around the handle bar for the contacts, this way all you have to do is grab it and its on.
snotty5 years ago
Great idea! Just a couple of suggestions. First, all the comments here talk about automation. I suggest less automation. A simple push on/push off switch built into the bar end cap would be fine. This way you simply push the bar end cap to turn the light on and push again to switch it off. Second suggestion: if you really want to use a reed switch how about mounting the magnets permanently on the handlebar. The magnets could be on a snug fitting ring that you slide or twist on the handlebar to get the magnet in the correct position near the reed switch. This way you don't have to remember to bring your gloves or magnetic rings. Everything would right there for you. -Yep
amaze16 years ago
Very nice work, I think I'll made it. Just a note (maybe you or other ones already point this): Your handlebar have to be aluminium type, otherwise reed switch can't sense the magnetic field from magnet. Iron shield magnetic fields.
stevew6 years ago
Alternatively, buy a couple TireFlys and embed them in your handlebar endcaps. They're motion activated, so you wouldn't need to mess with a reed switch and magnet. They also flash. On the downside, they use small, relatively expensive lithium batteries by default, although I'm sure they could be converted.
Handsome-Ryan (author)  stevew6 years ago
This is an interesting idea. The only downfall I can see would be that the lights would go off if you sat at a stop sign or stop light for more than a few seconds.
Really thorough =D.
Great job =].
This is AWESOME, but if I made it, I would use some bigger batteries and some ultrabright LEDs.
Due to the small diameter of my handlebars I could not find a suitable method for installing larger batteries. I am considering re-making the lights using SuperFlux LEDs but as you pointed out, I will need a better power source first.
jester_rob7 years ago
It would also be interesting to mod this into the starter circuitry as either an extra security feature or instead of a key, how cool would it be to get in your car, but a magnetic object on the dash or control panel, and have your car start...
Handsome-Ryan (author)  jester_rob6 years ago
I believe you would need to use a relay but there is no reason this would not work with most older cars. Most modern cars have RFID tags built into the keys and other security features that would make converting the ignition switch much more dificult (although not impossible).
dlfynrdr6 years ago
How well would this work on "ergonaomic" handlebars? I have different places to grab hold while I'm riding. Then again, the endcaps are facing inward so i guess it's a mute point
Handsome-Ryan (author)  dlfynrdr6 years ago
You could make the LED's stick out further and use difused or wide angle LED's for a neat effect.
macwhiz6 years ago
is that speedometer a catseye?
Handsome-Ryan (author)  macwhiz6 years ago
Yes, I believe it is.
agdollison6 years ago
i thought that you would use a photo resistor to use a night time
Handsome-Ryan (author)  agdollison6 years ago
A photoresistor would turn the lights on any time the bike is in the dark. This would be a form of automation but would drain the batteries very quickly and would cause flicker if you ride where there is other ambient light such as street lights.
Crucio6 years ago
"I suggest buying multiple switches because they break easily. " They're breaking quickly for you because your magnets are too strong. Just a hypothesis.
Handsome-Ryan (author)  Crucio6 years ago
I should have elaborated on that statement. The switch housings are made of very thin glass which is easily broken if dropped or squeezed too hard. I broke several switches while prototyping this setup.
Wouldn't it be easier to make this using either a proximity sensor, or even a pressure switch under the seat to sense when you are sitting on it? Seems like it would eliminate a lot of extra parts. Also, check ebay for reed switches, I sell them on there sometimes like 6 for 5$ and whatnot (we recycle industrial parts).
Handsome-Ryan (author)  wiretapstudios6 years ago
There is no way to run a wire from the handlebars to a switch under the seat without drilling holes in (and compromising the structure of) the handlebars. Same problem with the proximity sensor. I used a reed switch because it was the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this. There are certainly other ways that these lights could be automatically triggered but none that are as simple and inexpensive as a reed switch.
Cool, just curious. We sell new / used stuff, so I have seen proximity, reed, etc and other switches by the bucket-full in all sizes and shapes. I've sold some for as low as 4.95 on ebay. I would have never even thought of something like this, now the ideas are flowing...I've always wanted to use these for something...
Handsome-Ryan (author)  wiretapstudios6 years ago
Once you start using reed switches you'll be hooked for life. I just ordered $50 worth of components from Mouser Electronics this morning so hopefully I'll have some other neat instructables using reed switches/LEDs to share soon.
shooby7 years ago
Yeah, blinkers would be better. You might set it up as follows: Have one on switch, and on off switch, so that when your palms are on the bars, one switch turns on, and when your fingers are on the bars, on switch is off. Then, when you want to indicate, you lift the fingers of that hand off the bar, and the light turns on. The double switch is essentially necessary so that the light doesn't stay on when you leave your bike (no hands), Make sense? I was also thinking that an electromagnet could be used to make a similar switch, and this had me thinking that I could use the power source from a radio on an alarm clock to close a switch. This switch could then turn on, as an example, a coffee maker. Basically a timer switch which you set daily, so that you don't have to worry about your coffee maker melting while you're on vacation.
How about a two reed switches on either side of the handlebars, but inside of where you normally hold onto the handle bars. This way, when you want to indicate a turn, you simply touch more towards the center of the bars on the side in which you want to go. Viola!
or have a reed switch on either side and tap your hand on the handlebar to indicate which way you want to turn.
shooby shooby7 years ago
Have one on switch, and *one* off switch.
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