Super Bright - Simple Low Cost DIY Bike Frame Lighting




Introduction: Super Bright - Simple Low Cost DIY Bike Frame Lighting

About: Fat, old, and nearly bald, Pat O'Briant bumbled his way through an aeronautical engineering degree at an enormous state university which fortunately had an open admissions policy. I've spent the last 28 years …

Biking at night, especially in most US towns and cities, can be a scary experience. Even on a "safe" street or trail means crossing intersections with cars who simply do not have a clue about driving with pedestrians and bikes. And while superbright bike headlights are great at letting cars know you are coming at them, unfortunately you end up blinding them and oncoming bikes and pedestrians. And super bright headlights do not help much from those critical rear and side approaches.

Be seen - Light up your entire frame with inexpensive but super bright strip light LEDS to grab their attention without blinding your fellow travelers.

1) 1 x Low cost LED striplights to the rescue.

$6.45 from Amazon - LED 12V Flexible LED Strip Lighting comes in 16 feet lengths but you only need around 7 feet. The non-water proof comes with 2 connectors (Make for 2 bikes).

2) Holder for 8 x AA battery


3) 1 x 5.5mm Female connector

$5-6 for a pack of 10

- solder, tape, zipties, 8 AA batteries (rechargeable preferred but alkaline will work fine too).

Step 1: Gather Your Parts and Connectorize Your Battery Pack (LEDs, 8 X AA Battery Holder = 12 Volts, Female Connector)

1) Order your LEDs, Waterproof or Non-water proof (both types seem to work). Shown here with the connector chopped off (keep it on).

2) Solder the 5.5 mm female connector to the wires on the battery holder.

3) Insert batteries, plug in to test the lights.

4) Drill a hole in the top and insert the battery pack into a empty water bottle for an easy and convenient way to carry batteries.

Step 2: Apply LED Strip to the Bike Frame

1) Before applying the LED strips, it is a really good idea to clean the oil off the frame. Wash and use an alcohol wipe tape if you can.

LED strip lights come with peel off adhesive tape but the tape is not super sticky. You should be able to apply and then off and reapply to change the layout.

3) Start taping at location where your light connector can reach the battery pack.

4) Use the strip to outline the frame.

I recommend you -

a)avoid the top tube (where your legs might rub)

b) avoid the outside of the bottom rear triangle (where cranks/pedals/heels could tear the strip)

5) To finish, cut the strip (You should have enough strip left to do another bike). Secure the LED strip approximately every foot with zipties.

6) plug in and LIGHT UP THE NIGHT! Enjoy

Step 3: How Long on a Charge - Doing the Simple Math

These strip lights use 1.5 watts per foot. I used about 7 feet.

7 feet x 1.5 watts per foot = 10.5 watts. - Sure enough these lights use around 10.5 watts

Rechargeable Eneloops AA batteries (x8) are good for around 2,000 miliamp hours = 2 amphours x 12 volts = 24 watt hours. And can be recharged 2000 times.

24 watt hours / 10.5 watts = 2.29 hours, your results may vary.

Have fun and enjoy!

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    6 years ago

    I think it'll be better if you use saddlebag to put your batteries! If you do that, you can use bottle holder! :)


    Reply 6 years ago

    Yes, carry batteries any way you like. Whatever works for you.

    Fortunately many bikes (including this one) have 2 cages for 2 water bottles. Night is usually cooler, so I find one is plenty. And since I like it simple, batteries in the spare water bottle makes it easy to plug in (turn on) while I'm riding.

    The great thing about DIY is to customize and make it your way.


    6 years ago

    Just a heads up, a lot of rechargeable AA batteries are 1.2 volts, so with 8x1.2=10 volts instead of 12 but I appears it still works


    Reply 6 years ago

    Yep you are right, the old NiCad rechargeable were a rather weak 1.2 volts. With my voltmeter, I read the eneloop batteries at 1.45 volts fresh off the charger and 1.3 volts at 2 hours in. And yes, the lights are still plenty bright after 2 hours.

    Sorry, if this sounds like an eneloop battery commercial. See the chart below. I assume other of the latest generation NiMH rechargeable batteries will work well too.

    Longer life at a constant voltage.

    High performance at low temperatures

    Unlike other batteries, eneloop delivers excellent performance at 0ºC and can even be used in temperatures as low as -20ºC.

    Discharging characteristics at 0ºC (500mA continuous discharge)

    Longer life in cold conditions

    For users living in cold climates, and for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as skiing or camping, there is simply no better-performing battery in cold conditions.

    Note: Operation in cold conditions will be shorter than that at room temperature regardless of appliance used.