The Holiday Bicycle: How to Run Christmas Lights on Your Bike

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Introduction: The Holiday Bicycle: How to Run Christmas Lights on Your Bike

Do you like to show off your holiday spirit? Are you looking for something to light up your bike at night? Look no further than the Holiday Bicycle. Using an inexpensive inverter, lead-acid battery, and that tangled ball of Christmas lights in the attic, you can deck out your ride with holiday cheer!

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Step 1: Parts and Materials

Here's what you need:

1) Bike (I'm assuming you already have one...)

2) Christmas Lights - 25' length. Available in your attic, or any local retailer

3) Decorative Light - Star, Angel, anything that glows. Available at your local retailer

4) Lead-Acid battery - 12V, 7AH, from All Electronics:
Battery \$22

5) Lighter Jack (optional) - I used a "Y" adapter and just cut off one of the sockets. You can buy a "Y" from All Electronics:

6) Inverter - Just a small ~75W inverter should work, like this one from All Electronics:
Inverter \$14

7) Crimp terminals - Also available at All Electronics:
Crimp Terminals \$2.50

Total Cost: \$20-\$60

Step 2: Build the Electrical System

Battery:
The first step is to build the electrical system. This consists of a battery to provide a hefty 12V power source, and the power inverter which boosts the 12V DC up to 120V AC for the Christmas lights.

Begin by selecting a suitable battery - I recommend a sealed lead-acid battery because they are easy to use and very common. Each string of lights draws 1A of current from the battery, so to select the battery size, multiply the number of light strings by how long you want the lights to last. That is the theoretical amp-hour (AH) rating you need for your battery. This is a very basic estimate, actual performance will probably be only 1/2 of the theoretical. I used a 7AH battery and it seems to work pretty good.

Inverter:
The lights themselves do not present a huge load on the inverter, so you should be able to get by with an inexpensive one.

Connections:
You can hook the inverter directly to the battery, or you can use a lighter socket as I did below. Keep in mind, the tip of the lighter socket is the positive terminal. This should connect to the red + side of the battery. I recommend using crimp connectors to attach to the battery, if you don't have a crimping tool, just solder the connectors or use a pair of vice-grip pliers.

See below for a picture of the finished electrical system:

Step 3: Attach the Electrical System to Your Bike

First, figure out where you are going to put the electrical system; I chose to wire-tie my battery to the bottle holder. I also put the inverter and AC electrical connections in a ziploc bag to prevent snow and slush from getting in there.

Step 4: Install the Lights

Now wrap the lights around the bike frame, being careful not to interfere with the braking or gear-shifting mechanisms. Make sure the AC plugs end up next to the power inverter.

When it comes to putting lights on forks (the arms that connect to the wheels) pull the lights the length of the fork, wire-tie it at the bottom, then pull it straight back to the frame. See the picture below. If you wrap the forks with lights they could get caught up in the wheels. I only covered the left fork (the one that faces the road as you're riding) to save lights for other parts of the bike.

If you wrap the handlebars, also make sure that you leave enough slack in the wires to allow the handle bars to turn through their full range of motion. I also suggest finding a decorative light such as my star, or an angel, that would typically adorn the top of a Christmas tree. Hang this off the back for added visibility on dark roads.

Step 5: Finished!

Once you've got the electrical system mounted and the lights installed, connect the inverter to the battery and then plug in the lights. Assuming you don't have a dead bulb in the string (don't you hate that?) you should now be basking in the glory of your new Holiday Bike!

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12 Discussions

SLA batteries are dense (about 5-8 lb.). Motorcycle batteries or tractor batteries are heavier. If you have a rear cargo rack, I recommend using long hose clamps or coat hangers to tie down a battery to the cargo rack. If you bolt or attach a milk crate to a rear rack, it's really easy to put your 12v inverter, battery, etc together and seal them in a bread bag or something, to prevent water shorting them out. Then you can attach ornaments (christmas, holiday, new years, or other festivities) to the crate as well as the bike frame.

This is a couple years after the fact, of course, but I'm looking at building a similar set up to decorate a local landmark (see: http://facebook.com/larussellpump for an explanation).

I already have a battery similar to the one you use, albeit slightly larger and rated at 8ah (also featured in one of my instructables). I'm thinking of getting a cheapy Cobra inverter which puts out 400w.

My question is, what kind of run time could I expect out of, say, 2 strings of 200 regular, mini, incandescent bulbs?

I'd prefer the set up to run around pretty much 8 hours, giving good coverage through the evening. If my battery wouldn't run it, what, conceivably, would?

Thanks so much for any help/guidance.

The battery that you have in the picture, where's it from? It doesn't look like a regualr car battery?

he tells you what kind of battery and even gives a link to where he got it in the instructable.

I commute with a kiddie trailer at 4:00 am. I think I'll try doing the trailer. Thanks for the idea.

Very nice, I like it! Check out the one I did here. Mine was a lot more work, I see I could have gone a much simpler route!

depotdevoid, nice project. Mine was kind of a "use what I had lying around" approach... Yours is more of a custom high-tech version!