Introduction: Super Bright RGB LED Bike Wheels

Why settle for just a few lights on your bike when you can load up your wheels with over 200 RGB LED lights! This is LED oversaturation and ridiculously impractical, but it sure is bright and colorful so why not?

For this project you'll need access to a 3D printer, but the pieces are tiny and any printer should be able to handle it.

Step 1: What You Need

RGB LED strips - I'm using the 2 meter strips, which is enough to go around my wheels and have a few extra inches at the end

3D printer - Any printer and material should work fine. I printed mine with PLA on my Lulzbot Taz 3, but really ANY printer should work fine.

Strong tape - I used Gorilla tape. Duct tape would likely work as well.

AA batteries - one dozen

Scissors - for cutting excess LED strip

Step 2: Design Your Clip

I modeled this clip for my bike's rims, which are the "Deep V" style and thus the angle of the bottom piece is pretty acute.

LED clip in Tinkercad

To modify this for your own bike, stretch out the bottom two pieces.

When you're happy with it go to Design > Download for 3D printing to get the STL.

I recommend making a few variations to test out so you can find the one that fits faster.

Step 3: Print It!

Prep your 3D printer however you need to for small pieces and print it up. Don't worry about the material as I printed mine out of PLA and they held up just fine when riding.

Be sure to print out a few extra as these might break apart when installing them on the bike wheels.

Step 4: Installation

Attach all of the clips to your rims by sliding them onto the spoke and then sliding down the spoke to the rim.

Attach the LED strips, starting with the first LED closest to the controls, work your way all around. If you have excess, trim the strip with a pair of scissors, cutting between the copper pads.

Attach the battery pack to the spokes with tape. I admit, it's not the most permanent solution. There' probably a much better way to do this.

If you're using two strips on a wheel, make sure the battery packs balance each other out by being on opposite sides.

Step 5: Ride!

Ride around!

I'm still testing this out so there is room for improvement. One strip did break after I leaned the bike against a table so the strips should be reinforced on either end of the controller. Some heat shrink or electrical tape should help a lot.

Comments

author
JeffS2 made it! (author)2017-06-13

Maybe after you market and sell these you could get a bigger 3d printer and just print a rim with the necessary clips for lights and batteries!

All kidding aside, you did a great job and the video was excellent!

author
MohammedG14 made it! (author)2017-04-30

great explanation...cool sick design...you got yourself a follower

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-30

thank you

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Pib2 made it! (author)2017-04-29

This looks really cool. I imagine that you could also design a battery tray, print that and attach it to your bike. Do you know if there's a standard wheel size for bikes such that this model could work on other bikes? Thanks!

author
fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-30

The size of the wheel doesn't matter. It's all about the profile of the rim. You could make a small variety of pieces that can fit different types of rims. Mostly just change the angle.

I'd prefer to find some new solution that could fit all rims, but without making this in some flexible material I'm not sure how that would work.

author
MatthieuR made it! (author)2017-04-28

Finally a smart use of 3D printing. I am fed up by the 3D printing fad. But I like how you engineered a part that had to accommodate an existing object (the wheels).

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-28

My favorite uses for 3D printers are custom connectors and enclosures. I find printing out figurines to be pretty boring.

But my kids love that, so I still do it sometimes :)

author
jan_vda made it! (author)2017-04-27

Awesome and also one of the best video instructables i have seen sofar.

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-28

thank you!

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SapphireS5 made it! (author)2017-04-28

this is cool and all, but I hope you realize this is VERY illegal.

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-28

It's true. White in front and red in back are the common rules for riding on the street. I made this as a test and don't recommend use with the full colors near vehicles. Can switch to traffic friendly white and red settings with brightness turned down while near cars and go full color when cruising away from cars.

I've also seen that strobes are not to be used at night. I see that being ignored all the time. As a driver, that has scared me more than I think this would.

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LastPayLoad0 made it! (author)LastPayLoad02017-04-28

really?

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Wallissimpson made it! (author)2017-04-27

Just brilliant!

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-27

Yes! Sometimes a bit too much. Looking down a little while riding can mess up your night vision.

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MikeZ48 made it! (author)MikeZ482017-04-28

Red light does not affect night vision. Use red LEDs and the problem goes away. Astronomers and submarine captains have known this for a LONG time.

author
sonicboom999 made it! (author)2017-04-28

great concept but not everyone owns a 3d printer what if we want to mod to a regular mountian bike 27 inch like mine reg mountian rims how would i mount the light then ?????

author
random_builder made it! (author)2017-04-25

Awesome! How much does the whole thing cost? I would make it, except I don't have a 3D printer.

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thormj made it! (author)thormj2017-04-27

I and many others have put our printers up on MakeXYZ or 3DHubs... don't let lack-of-a-printer stop you... I'll print and ship to you!

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random_builder made it! (author)random_builder2017-04-27

Meh. That idea doesn't appeal to me very much. Idk why.

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-25

The cost of the lights keep changing. Right now, it's $76 for four strips, but you could definitely make do with one strip per wheel and spend $38 instead.

For the batteries, Amazon has some cheap AAs where it'll be $6 or less for the dozen.

So you could have a good effect for $44.

Of course, I didn't mention the 3D printer. If you can get access to one, the cost of materials is super low, probably a couple dollars in filament.

author
random_builder made it! (author)random_builder2017-04-25

That's not too bad!

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JumpingThrghHoops made it! (author)2017-04-27

Very cool. It might help kids get off using their devices and onto their bikes. It would be a lot of fun, and they are certainly going to be seen for safety.

FYI you can purchase the lighting strips for $5 - 10 each if you buy from China. Aliexpress, DHGate, Gearbest are some of the most reliable sites to purchase from.

How does rainy weather affect the lights and battery packs?

Is there an alternate way to affix the lights without having to 3D print clips?

Did you consider weaving between the spokes as an alternative? Are the light strips fragile particularly the material they are printed on?

Thanks!

author
fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-27

These strips are already coming from China. These cost ~$60 for 4 sets, shipped. If you're looking, be sure to get a strip that's 2m long.

I haven't ridden with these in the rain and wouldn't recommend it. The LEDs are waterproof, but the rest isn't. I've had a set of these short when a little rain fell on a Halloween costume with them on the outside.

There might be another way. Up to you!

I did consider weaving them, but the same problem happens there. The strip doesn't turn to the side and the effect would be a wobbly circle.

Keeping the strip facing inwards for a circle doesn't direct the light out at drivers and creates a more uniform look.

author
mikeasaurus made it! (author)2017-04-24

Looks easy and stylish for those evening rides!

Are there any issues you encountered with balancing the power supply within the spokes?

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fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-24

Nope. I didn't even think much about that part. My quick solution worked out without any issues.

author
florindgis made it! (author)2017-04-24

Nice work!!!

author
fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2017-04-24

Thanks!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at supamoto.co. You'll like it.
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