Bike wheel lights for a wheelchair?
December 9, 2016 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get my wife a set of wheel lights for her manual wheelchair. The requirements being a bit different from typical bicycle applications, I seek insight and suggestions.

My wife commutes via city bus while using a manual wheelchair with spoked 24" wheels. The wheels are mounted on and dismounted from the chair every day, and get handled a lot more than bike wheels. The ideal product would be lightweight, robust and very easy to switch on and off while seated in the assembled chair. Less importantly, it would be nice if the components weren't so clunky or garish as to look odd in a lighted office environment. Because the wheels never spin very quickly, lights intended to create graphic visual effects probably wouldn't work.

I have no idea what's available these days. Hit me.
posted by jon1270 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are LED lights that screw on to valve caps. For example.

Some are motion-activated.
posted by entropone at 7:06 AM on December 9, 2016

These create an effect at speed, but are just lights. There's a solid and a flash mode. (Talking to motorists, they said they parse flashing as "bike" faster than a solid light. I was asking about tail lights, though, so I don't know how that changes with wheel lights.) Of course, if she finds that she needs more than one or two per wheel, it'll get annoying to switch them on and off.

I imagine you could also find a tail light to attach to the back of her chair (I'm thinking there's a metal bar at the back of the seat), but I don't know how easy it would be to operate.
posted by hoyland at 7:06 AM on December 9, 2016

Would something like this work? It's just a white tube, so in the office it wouldn't stand out so much. I'm not sure if the battery pack would be too obstrusive, though. But it would be easy to make it accessible from her sitting position.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:08 AM on December 9, 2016

Oh, here's one that's even less obtrusive, and less expensive.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:16 AM on December 9, 2016

I've been waiting for these to go off crowdfunding-level and just be available. They're passive reflectors, not lights, so I'm not sure if they work for this application, but it might be a fun addition.
posted by uberchet at 7:33 AM on December 9, 2016

I have the monkey light that firstmatekate linked to. Mine is mounted on a 26" wheel on our cargo bike. They can be set up to display a graphical things, but since I'm usually hauling around a kid and/or groceries, I don't get going fast enough to have that happen. We just allow then to be their bright-as-fuck selves. I mean, they're really bright. They're completely contained within the wheel, with the battery pack sitting at the hub, and the light unit placed further out. They're kind of low profile, but maybe not enough for your requirements... and I probably could of managed the cables a little bit better. I think they'd be borderline for your requirements overall, but they might work.

In terms of build quality though, I haven't seen anything better than Revolights. I've been saving my pennies to have them mounted on my current non-cargo bike. They don't have anything listed for 24" wheels, but I would contact their customer support; I've seen them mounted on other bike tire sizes, and I've seen many prototypes from them. This might be their speed.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you haven't already, check this recent thread for recommendations as well.
posted by sibilatorix at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2016

I'm not sure if this is what you're after but while buying a clip-on light for my dog, the pet store owner mentioned that someone bought a bunch of their products for her wheelchair. The ones I remember looked like a dog collar (e.g. this LED one) or leash (e.g. this one) which might look weird in an office environment but they would definitely be up for rough handling.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:48 AM on December 9, 2016

Thanks for all the ideas, current and future! I'm about to leave on a brief road trip, and won't be able to comment here for awhile.

Motion-activated lights won't be a good idea if they shut off immediately when movement stops. The main purpose of these, aside from looking cool, would be to make it safer to cross busy streets. It would kind of suck if she suddenly became less visible the moment she's stymied by a pothole or something.

I was tempted by the stick-on glow-in-the-dark ribbon style that are energized by a an adjacent fixed electric light, e.g. Nori lights, but on reflection (heh) I realized there would be nowhere to mount the light on the outward side of the wheel, because wheelchairs don't have forks or stays.
posted by jon1270 at 9:26 AM on December 9, 2016

I'm seeing these LED tube-lights in a big circle, might work for each wheel. Those run on AA batteries but have an on/off switch, and you zip-tie them to the spokes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2016

« Older Should I buy an Amazon Echo as a gift? Difficulty...   |   Stretchy pants? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.