When riding a bicycle at night, visibility is key to safety, but safety doesn’t have to be boring. Inspired by a Blackberry ad from 2012, the people at La Fabrique DIY, a French website where anyone can publish a DIY project tutorial, recreated the glowing bicycle from the ad in a YouTube video and published a set of step-by-step instructions.

Glowing wheels in the light and the dark. Photo by La Fabrique DIY.

Glowing wheels in the light and the dark. Photo by La Fabrique DIY.

“Phosphorescent bikes are fun to ride,” explains Lucas Berbesson, one of the founders of La Fabrique DIY. “Their major drawbacks are that the glow-in-the-dark paint fades too quickly, the bike rims are too thin to be visible in the streets, and the brakes weaken the phosphorescent paint. That’s how we came up with the idea of large acrylic rings boosted by UV LEDs.” The addition of the LEDs creates a self-sustaining system, as the phosphorescent paint recharges itself every time the wheels turn. Moving the paint off of the bicycle’s wheel means the brakes won’t rub against it, either.

Acrylic discs provide a surface ready for phosphorescent paint.

Acrylic discs provide a surface ready for phosphorescent paint.

To create the glow-in-the-dark effect, the acrylic rings are painted with a white base coat, followed by phosphorescent paint and clear lacquer as a protectant. The rings are then woven through the bicycle’s spokes and secured with small zip ties. To make the electronic components more resistant to weather, Berbesson used clear silicone to seal and waterproof the LEDs. A USB smartphone battery provides the power. Depending on the battery used, the system can power itself for up to 8 hours and can be recharged easily. “They are easily available nowadays,” says Berbesson. A handful of resistors, some wire, and a little bit of soldering complete the bike.

UV LEDs waterproofed with clear silicone. Photo by Lucas Berbesson.

UV LEDs waterproofed with clear silicone.

The end result is a bicycle that is both easy to see and fun to ride. A full tutorial (in French) is available at La Fabrique DIY.