DIY GLOBARS For Nighttime Bike Visibility

Inspired by a non-existant yet still cool illuminated bicycle handlebar project, [Becky] over at Adafruit came up with her own version of light up  handlebars. Not only is her project actually real, they’re also a pretty cool build that brings a little lightcycle ambiance to twilight bicycling.

[Becky]’s light up handlebars are inspired by the GLOBARS concept design that made the blog rounds earlier this year. Instead of custom machined aluminum tubing, [Becky] used an Adafruit LED strip neatly assembled with heat shrink tubing and waterproof tape, along with an 8 AA-cell battery holder in a fabric and velcro pouch suspended from the top tube on her bike.

After wrapping the LEDs around the handlebars, [Becky] wrapped them in clear handlebar tape she sourced from Amazon. From the video after the break, the 2 meter LED strip on [Becky]’s handlebars verge on lightcycle territory, but sourcing a 6 AA-cell battery holder over an 8-cell will bring the brightness down to a reasonable but still safe level.

You can check out [Becky]’s build video after the break.


28 thoughts on “DIY GLOBARS For Nighttime Bike Visibility

  1. That is absolutely awesome, although… I would never ever ever point a light at my face, or anywhere my face would be. That’s a bad idea, you want to point the lights everywhere, everywhere but up at your face, you’ll ruin your night vision and make things in the road harder to see.

    1. You (and several others) are absolutely right about the not pointing any light in your face.

      On my eBike I built a fairly powerful front light setup (360 3mm LEDs) which I run at 60 on the roads and full 360 along unlit paths & roads, dipping back down to 60 when someone comes the other way. It’s totally shielded from my eyes so I only see the light they project and not any of the LEDs themselves.

      Facing me on the handlebars there’s 3 red SMD LEDs in the throttle to indicate battery power left and I’ve added a 3-digit red LED display of the battery voltage.

      When doing long rides along the cycle paths at night I will often put blu-tack over the red LEDs on the handlebars because even those LEDs can leave me with minor spot-blindness if I glance at them and then try to see detail in the oncoming darkness ahead.

  2. Most guys don’t actually have a sowing machine, and yeah I know that’s so role-confirming, but there you have it.
    You could use a saddlebag and attach it to the bar or make the wire longer. Or use a piece of PVC tubing and shove the batteryholder into that and ziptie it to the bike or something.

    Also, why no switch?

    1. Actually, I own a sewing machine along with my wife, and I showed my wife to use it. My grandfather taught me how to sew by hand at 5 years old, he learned to sew simply because that is one of the first tasks he had as a job, he sewed sails and repaired nets, he was in the Merchant Marines.

      1. I actually used to have a sewing machine but that was long ago, furthermore I did some sewing by hand, including putting in a new zipper in a jeans, so yeah it’s not like I’m suggesting you can’t do it, it’s just a hassle to do by hand and if not married most guys would have to admit they do not have one in the house, it’s just statistics.

    2. I SEW !!

      I was so fortunate to grow up in a family of sewers. My mom and three sisters sewed clothes. My dad was a great hand switcher and fixed his sails and ropes.

      Sewing is a great education in geometry, topology and craftsmanship. Sewing is the art of translating 3D surfaces into 2D than back to 3D. I’ve found many people don’t have the volumetric skill and patience to sew.

      I had a good friend give me crap about sewing once. He’ll never do that again.

    3. I’m sitting on a seat cover I made for my computer chair last month, when the faux leather finally wore out. I was lucky enough to find and restore an old business-grade portable Omega-Necchi sewing machine.

    4. I can sew (by hand (nothing fancy, sewing up tears or making a down & dirty sack), and although there are a couple of sewing machines in my house, I have never learned to use them.

      I used to hang out on some DIY outdoors sites, and sewing machines were pretty much a MUST HAVE for anything they built. While plenty of women camp and hike, they seemed to be in the minority in the DIY gear forums.

      I wouldn’t mind learning to use a sewing machine. I would assume learning to use one would be (largely) no different than any other complex, highly useful tool (eg: oscilloscope, plasma cutter, foundry, etc). Half of the initial learning is actually learning terminology and/or techniques specific to the problem domain (eg: cloth, electronics, metals, and melting/crystalization). Once the basics are understood, it is comparatively easy to adapt to different tools of the same general type.

  3. Agree with the other poster – light in the face is not a great idea if you want to see in the dark.

    I would think the ideal placement would be facing the road down the down tube [starting the the head tube], curving under the bottom bracket then up the seat tube. To light up both tires and the ground under the bike.

  4. Well I don’t see any positive comments so let me just say that I think this is an AWESOME idea, just that the way she wrapped it don’t make too much sense to me. Also, any bike with brakes would make this more… challenging using traditional drop bars, but it can be done. At this moment I’m ordering clear bar tape that,s how much I believe in it.

  5. OMG! Smart, geeky, crafty, bikey attractive redhead?

    I am in love.

    With that said; I don’t like catching glare from my own light but it at least improves visibility of the bike over a single bright LED.

    – Robot

  6. she shows two distinct methods of mounting the lights…

    in the street with streetlighting you reeeally do NOT need lights for the purpose of seeing others… you need lights to BE seen!!!

    in the forest you need head-lights to see the CLIFF your about to go off of! lol

    she demonstrates spiraled lights to be seen
    and front-facing lights to be used as headlights.
    and as far as i can see the front facing lights are not shinning on the rider’s eyes.

    different methods, diferent night-bike-rides :)
    both her methods are effects and attractive.

    theres nothing stopping her from using BOTH methods and TWO switches: head-lights, or all-lights! :)

    maybe even make the lights two different colors; cool white and warm white, or cool white and yellow.

    1. personally i’d like to see her idea expanded on and have turn signals added and red strip for brake lighting.

      charge those NIMH with a dynamo or preferably (rectified)alternator.

      HINT: printer = source of low-voltage multi-pole (AC) alternator

      1. You might need some side lights too, the traffic on crossings or pulling into a road can get you hurt too, but there is a reason why they in many places insist on round wheel reflectors and such defined lighting, because people are good at seeing known patterns and so seeing a single light on the back and front and circular reflectors on the wheels makes recognizing bicycles intuitive if they all use the same design, whereas all kinds of odd lights won’t immediately register as being a bicycle since there are many lights of undefined form caused by reflections and such that it’s likely they are initially identified as just ‘background noise’.
        It still works of course, but with those limitation and possibly a slight delay.

  7. I think a much better idea would’ve been electroluminescent tape. It runs off a tiny inverter that’ll run off batteries for a good while. It’s available in lots of colours, and, being tape, would be easier to stick round handlebars.

    It’s also not as glaring, giving off a consistent light all along it’s length. That’s what I’d’ve done, if I’d required an illuminated bike.

    1. 1) anything EL is a shock hazard, espically when you hit a metal car and get your hands bloody…
      or just fall into the water :P

      2) i like your idea but the fact is that EL tape is not as BRIGHT as these LED strips…

      its good for when you want to be seen.
      less electricity but still visible,
      but if its seeing in COMPLETE darkness…
      better stick with the higher light output! XD

      WHY NOT USE BOTH? if it rains, turn off the highvoltage EL and turn on the low voltage LEDs

      … learn how GFCI(usa term) is made and build a special one thats compatible with EL inverters… im assuming its not as easy as standard 50/60hz sin

  8. As both a cyclist and motorist I think this is a great concept, but I also think it needs a fair bit of development to make it practical.

    Apart from light in the eyes I can’t see having LED strip where you grip working out for either the cyclist or the LED’s; but with some development with placing, and adding ideas such as turn indicators, rear-facing red outboard markers on the handlebar ends, &c, I could see something like this become standard kit for bikes, to the advantage of both cyclists and motorists. A great start. +1

  9. This would be illegal in most European countries is my guess for all the reasons mentioned above.

    Personally I think it looks like shit if it’s twirled around the wheel. But the concept of sticking these in patches on your bike is pretty neat and will definitely consider using this to replace my current system :_

  10. Everyone should learn to use a sewing machine. It’s such a useful skill. And to appeal to the hacker crowd, go to your local thrift store and buy a well used machine for $20. Learn to fix or tune it up yourself, and you’re mother will be proud. I bought one a few months back and it didn’t sew properly when I got it home. I found that all it needed was a timing adjustment with one set screw. It was all very clearly documented online. Turns out it’s a decent 30 year old machine that’s selling for $200 on ebay.

  11. i think this is for the bicyclist to be seen, not to use as a light to see. I am sure Becky can make a thumping output light.
    The wheel reflectors someone mentioned on a post as being a great standard simple, have one major downfall, they cannot be seen unless the bike is dead ahead of the car. The next image will be the bicyclist going over the windshield if it is close enough to be hot. If it isn’t close enough to be hit, the driver will realize a bicycle just crossed their path. On tractor trailers , the reflectors make since, since if a tractor is stuck across a road, the reflectors may stop a car from running into it. A lot of people were killed due to hitting broken down trailers T bone style at night.
    In NYC , being seen from all directions is important to survival.
    I use a slip on green filter for my 700 lumens? power, flashlights on both sides of my front basket . Green is such an uncommon color, that drivers have no idea what it is ,so they slow down.
    I use it for a daytime running light too, too help from getting doored, another NYC bicyclist killer- collar bone breaker.

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