Picture of Tron bike: clear plastic bike with LED edge lighting
Tron bike: it's a 100% clear plastic bike frame with LED edge lighting. The entire frame starts from a single flat sheet of clear polycarbonate (lexan) plastic which is cut into pieces and assembled. LED edge lighting is added to provide great night-time special effects. The bike falls a bit more on the "art" side than the "practical" side as it is heavy and wobbly, but it is rideable and great for cruising town around at night.

The original (un-lit) clear plastic frame concept & design is by saul, who led an intersession class at the MIT Media Lab in 2003 (?) where about 10 students each designed and built a clear plastic bicycle frame. Some of the students modified the frame styling a bit, one of the other frames with a more curvy style is shown below.

After seeing one of the frames around MIT in 2004, I had the idea for customized edge lighting so I built up a frame and added the lighting effects.

The full project here is quite a lot of work unless you have a high-end machine shop at your disposal, but there should be several ideas for you along the way. I've included the CAD files for the plastic frame and the C code for the microcontroller. This is an "after the fact" documentation, i built this about 3 years ago.

As seen in the Wired Blog.  

This article is brought to you by MonkeyLectric and the Monkey Light bike light

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cdncycler3 years ago
I've heard of a bike done like this by some university students. ....Brock University (Canada).

It be nice to see a video of the steps done to produce a bike like this.
rickharris3 years ago
I am not entirely sure i would ride it as Acrylic is very brittle.
GeekBeam3 years ago
all this needs is an LED outlining for the wheels
zack2475 years ago
awesome bike! i want one! but i imagine you cant keep it in the sun for too long...
actually polycarbonate/ is resistant to yellowing from the sun...it's 1 reason why they make R/C car bodies out of it.
i was thinking more about the frame drying out and cracking.
ah I see...it should last a couple years
Very cool build !!!   I'd  love to see some video .
bac5126 years ago
where would we get these materials, and how much is this gunna cost? This looks really cool, I'd love to build one.....
me!6 years ago
You know how much it weighs?
dan (author)  me!6 years ago
around 30 lb
bounty10127 years ago
lol the bike is a pimpmobile
if i built this i would have done some things differently ,starting with the lighting. i would have used rope light [http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/images/neonblue.jpg] or sand the frame to make it look "cloudy".
oddcolander7 years ago
Thank you for the ideas!!! I'm working on tricking out a trike with LEDs for a Halloween parade, and your frame took me in a whole new direction! Great job!
TOTALLY SICK RIDE! all you need to do now is add some led "hokeyspokes" to it and maybe some EL wire for the handlebars. i bet that bike turns heads at night.
Anyone else noticed that there are no breaks? Great job!
dan (author)  cool!7 years ago
breaks? you mean cracks? actually there are some small ones :( but its still in one piece and ridable. as noted in the project the bottom bracket area cracked to failure, but this was more a design problem of not putting thick enough plastic there in the first place.
marc92 dan7 years ago
I think he meant to say brakes. Does this bike have any brakes?
cool! marc927 years ago
Correct. That is what I meant
dan (author)  cool!7 years ago
yes it has brakes. the secret to easy custom bike building is to use a rear wheel with a coaster brake. no cables needed!
Hello Kitty7 years ago
OK, That's pretty AWESOME!
whiteoakart7 years ago
Very cool. The lighting is great. You did the hard parts, but here are a few easy additions that would complement the assembly. How about: 1. Acrylic rod for the handlebars and seat post 2. Mylar aero wheel covers. Use r/c aircraft mylar to create cheap disc wheels over the spokes. Superglu to rim and washer at hub. Heat a little with hair dryer or heat gun to stretch. Hmmm. maybe I need to do an Instructable for that one. 3. Peel off the saddle pad and replace with transparent gel pads Thanks for posting!
dan (author)  whiteoakart7 years ago
thanks! actually it does have a clear handlebar added after some of the photos were done - see the daylight photos - but no leds in the handlebar yet.
whiteoakart dan7 years ago
I see the handlebar now. Excellent.
you know there's a company who make car rims out of 2" thick clear lexan if you can manage something like that it would be pretty cool
regis17 years ago
i wouldn't want to be the guy riding it when it collapses from weather and sun deterioration, but a very cool idea none the less.
WolvesOfWar7 years ago
This was at the maker faire 2007 wasn't it?
dan (author)  WolvesOfWar7 years ago
of course!
Wario7 years ago
I have a suggestion for a future upgrade to this, you could fit in a few speakers and a psp sized compartment to put an mp3 player in to make it a DUB bike.
Ward_Nox8 years ago
i get the feeling this is gonna be the start of a new sub group of instructibles for instance a clear lexan skate boar w lighting would look like a hover board at night
btop Ward_Nox7 years ago
heh that would be cool
Ward_Nox btop7 years ago
lol yea you could hve the tusks flash
btop Ward_Nox7 years ago
tusks? Do you have a prehistoric board or something? Or did you mean trucks?
Ward_Nox btop7 years ago
my first post i said clear skate BOAR instead of BOARD
rc jedi7 years ago
is it safe to ride? that stuff cracks and splits into pointy shards. great idea, but let's test a rejected one to distruction before riding it. I put led's on electric r/c planes too!
dan (author)  rc jedi7 years ago
acrylic makes shards, not polycarbonate
rc jedi dan7 years ago
oh, didn't know. I used plexi on some projects. It sucks. If lexan is that good, I will keep it in mind for the next 1. thanks
trialex7 years ago
Awesome. Inspiring for both the LED aspects but mostly for the bike design.
Pyrowuzzup7 years ago
this is really nice. i think ive found a good project for my schools cnc machine. oh and for those handlebar wires you might consider having contacts like in an electric motor. that way no matter how far you turn the handlebars the wires dont break.
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