Bike Wheel Lights Hack




About: Passionate maker

Night time visibility is an important factor in the safety of riding a bicycle. But who am I kidding this light is simply cool and that's why you want it :D Fortunately the light is super simple to build, doesn't require any special tools or skills. Just time and patience.

Also, check out the video with the entire build process documented.

Step 1: Before You Start

There is a couple of things you'll need:

- glow in the dark paint: here or here | 4x 20g bottles are more than enough

- 12x UV LEDs - just get 100 of them as they are so cheap

You will also need some masking tape, paintbrush and wire to hook up the LEDs. Lastly, you'll need a battery holder for 2 AA batteries or you can you power bank like I'm doing.

Step 2: Painting

First and the most time-consuming step is painting the wheels. It's pretty straightforward however. You could try painting the circle free handed but that probably wouldn't end up great. Instead, it's a lot easier to mask out the outline of the circle. First of all, find a spot where you want the circle to be and clean the surface thoroughly. I started with a wet sponge to get most of the dirt out and then followed with some alcohol and paper towel.

Next, mask everything that's not supposed to be painted. Instead of trying to place the masking tape precisely in the shape of a circle, simply make a rough outline. Grab a compass and mark a line on the tape that is a set distance from the edge. You can then take an x-acto knife and cut along the line. It is a lot easier when you put the wheel back on the bike, rest your knife on the frame and slowly turn the wheel. That way you'll have a perfect circle and you might not even need to draw the line first.

When painting, make sure to leave a lot of paint on the wheels. The surface might appear uneven and too thick when the painting but once it dries it will be fine. Check the video for reference at 1:17

Once your paint has dried I'd suggest putting on a protective clear coat. Just avoid spraying on the braking surface.

Step 3: Wiring

When it comes to circuits it couldn't be any simpler than this. all 12 LEDs connected in parallel directly to a battery. Well, that is if you're using 3V battery. If you decide to use a power bank which is a lot more convenient in my opinion you need to add a single 22Ω resistor in series. Both schematics are right here.

When it comes to mounting the LEDs to the bike I used a custom 3D printed holders. which you can download btw. but those aren't necessary of course. The LEDs can by simple glued to the frame. But really there are dozens of ways to do it so I'm gonna leave it to your imagination.

You might also notice I'm soldering everything together but that isn't necessary either. If you don't have soldering iron simply twisting the legs of the LEDs together will do the job. Maybe even something like twist wire connector could work but that might be a bit too bulky.



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    10 Discussions


    8 months ago

    Great idea! I have an electric bike and don't want to mess aroumd with extra batteries, but this is a great way to keep the power on tbe forks, not the wheels.

    However, instead of painting I looked up glow in the dark spoke on Amazon and it came up with beads you attach to the spokes. I like the idea of putting tbese on spokes and shining uv leds on to them, so I'll put this on my "projects to do" list.

    Thanks for the idea!


    Question 8 months ago

    Nicely done,

    how much paint do you need to do a standard bike wheel ?

    1 answer

    Reply 8 months ago

    I used almost 4 of those 20g bottles. but I also managed to drop one and spill everything :D so it was more like 3 bottles. And my floor glows now as well :D. Thanks for asking, updated the step as well :)


    8 months ago

    When i have V-Brakes the Glue will "brake away"!?. But the idea is really great!


    Question 8 months ago

    This would be a bit complicated, but would it be possible to save battery life by timing the LEDs to switch off when the tape is charged, then turn them on after a minute or so?

    1 answer

    Answer 8 months ago

    Sure. Even something like 555 timer could work but honestly, it's an unnecessary complication. On a bike you will be stopping on red lights an what not so with a timer it might just make bright spot when stopped and then be off for another minute when moving.


    8 months ago

    When I clicked on the thumbnail I thought this was done with either
    EL-wire or some LED strip, either would have been a nightmare to mount
    and wire up. So I'm pleasantly surprised with the glow-in-the-dark pain
    and UV LED solution you've come up with. As a bonus, the light is way
    more even than it would have been with EL-wire or an LED strip.

    Thanks for sharing!