Crapsmanship: Solar-powered Bike Lights

Posted on June 3, 2011


A word I shamelessly stole from the white-board with a wealth of mis-spelled words on the Lake House fireplace hearth. I assume that this refers to the less refined version of up-cycling, re-using, re-purposing, and things of that nature. I’m adopting the word and asking for help.

I love to bike. I am not nearly as excellent at it as the phenomenal Ryan Baham, Cliff Sumner, Robbie Bear, Ryan Ortega, or the sickeningly awesome Heather Skipper (that is some excessive linkage). However, I do love biking, and after my recent escapade out on the town with several of the aforementioned people, I have come to appreciate the law for bike lights even more than ever – ok, so I never really appreciated it at all before, because as much a I love biking, I’d always gone during the daylight hours.

Not once, but many many times, several of us nearly collided head on with oncoming Bayshore traffic – some runners, walkers, and skaters, but 9/10 were cyclists who were as good as phantoms until they were something like 4 feet from the sweetly voluptuous curves of my bicycles handlebars. It was interesting to me that these people were exclaiming profanities as we nearly ran them over, as they were the ones entirely Invisible at 10 pm on a street where half the streetlamps were shut off. Despite some powerful bike lights on our 2-wheeled wonders, without their respective bipedal-peddling machines being lit, they were as good as ghosts.

I think a great deal about near-death experiences after the fact (yeah, I’ve had a few, though this would count as a hyperbolic one that exists mostly in my head). This one has spurred me on to think primarily of a way to remedy this problem – because them not having bike lights is a problem for them (they could get hit, or get a ticket) as well as me (I could get hit, too, people!).

I’ve done a few google searches looking for solar-powered bike lights, since it seems like the people least likely to have a bike light are people who can’t afford one (*ahem* homeless people), and if you give them a bike light, as soon as the batteries die, tada! they don’t have a bike light anymore because they probably don’t have money for batteries, either. Most of the sources that pull up a usable product are sold out with no indication that they are ever going to restock the product (if it sells, doesn’t that mean there’s a market and you should make more?), so I’m curious — who wants to be crafty and show me how to transform solar garden lights into solar-powered bike lights? There are instructions for that project here, however, I have no idea how do-able this is, or how cost-effective. Compared to just buying a solar-powered light if we can find one, is it worth the effort to construct it my/ourselves?
A few of the sites that sell solar powered lights made specifically for bicycles are below. I think especially in a city ranked #2 most dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists it might be a good non-profit idea to get cyclists outfitted with the right equipment so they are at least doing their part to alleviate the dangers (though God knows there are no number of flashing bike lights that are going to take all the drunk drivers off the Tampa streets).

I’d like to do some research and see if there are any projects like this or what it would take to make it happen. This is a need in the area and a useful piece of assistance for people who are not so wealthy as to be equipped with a 4-wheeled-gas-guzzling piece of transportation.

Rear LED Light (red)

Innovit LED Light (red)

Owleye Solar-powered Headlight doesn’t appear to be available anywhere in the U.S.

Solar-powered LED Headlight


The coolest solution is this Amsterdam-designed “Moof” bike, with built in solar-powered front and read lights


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