Lighting Up Glue Stick Bicycle Tyres With RGB

Being visible to motorists is a constant concern for cyclists, but we doubt [The Q] will have this problem with his RGB LED illuminated tires made from glue sticks.

The project started with a set of 3D-printed tire molds that bolt to the standard wheels. A bot of melted glue sticks is poured into the mold, allowed to cool, and the mold sections are removed with the help of a heat gun after cooling. We doubt the weight and hardness make the tires particularly practical, but you can’t make normal tires glow from the inside. 

The idea to illuminate the tires probably came after molding, because they had to be cut off to fit the LEDs. [The Q] built a simple hot wire jig with a piece of nichrome wire between two screws and used it to cut a few millimeters from the inside of the tire and fit a sleeved RGB LED strip in the wheel. Power come from a set of three 18650 batteries housed with a wireless controller in a 3D printed hub-mounted enclosure.

Like [The Q]’s hubless and partial wheel bicycles, it’s a definite head-turner, with function following form. 

28 thoughts on “Lighting Up Glue Stick Bicycle Tyres With RGB

  1. That’s fantastic. It’s a shame that the wheels are made from hot glue, it’d probably melt where I live. I would love to have something like this to make myself visible on my rides to work.

    1. I think this is a neat idea but there is no way I would ride on the hot glue tires. I’m a very experienced rider and think riding on them would be dangerous. Completely NOT a practical idea!! Sorry.

  2. Hot glue isn’t that dense, and should be reasonably grippy… I’d suggest its not a terrible tyre, until it melts again or is torn up by the road…

    I quite like the idea though, I wonder if transparent plastic and rubbery bits for grip could be put together so its actually a good tyre with some similar if reduced lighting effect.

      1. I was thinking more having some transparent elements put into the tyre mold at its creation that create the windows for the lighting – the tyre is still mostly regular tyre but its got some transparent light pipe elements woven through its makeup it shouldn’t be too problematic. I’d expect a shorter lifespan or thicker heavier tyre still, but also an actually practical tyre with illumination.

        1. The thing is that bike tires are pretty much all composite designs these days with three to four layers of different material at a minimum helping maintain their integrity. And they are all oriented perpendicularly to how these hypothetical light pipes would need to be. You’d be seriously compromising the strength and flexibility of the final part threading something in like that, to say nothing of how much it would complicate construction and increase prices.

          Why not just skip all that and mount the lights and a diffuser lens to the rim or spokes, as many products already do? It has more room to work with, it’s easier to maintain, and you can use whatever tires you want. And as a bonus you can use different colors for each side so that you can tell the direction of travel too. The only real downsides to those approaches is that many don’t offer the best visibility from the front or sides (which is solvable with a better lens design) and some are flat out incompatible with caliper brakes.

  3. This is actually quite a nice hack!
    I wonder why we don’t see more pour moulding related projects with 3D printing and hot glue, given the ease of access to both. Hot glue is quite inexpensive.

    On a side note, I also wonder why we don’t have solid rubber tires.

    1. Goodyear tried to make a similar product to this in the ’60s and it was very expensive and unsafe along with a bunch of other problems.
      Here is a very simple example of one of the reasons we use air tires. Tires are actually important part of the suspension system. That’s why run-flat tires or low profile tires tend to have rougher rides which is also why you see them in more sporty cars.
      It would make the suspension more expensive and the tires more expensive and have a bunch of other problems there’s reasons why we moved away from solid core tires.

      TL;DR The ride would be worse and it would be more expensive, ect

  4. Neat idea and maybe ok if you just pootle around slowly, but I’d not want them failing at 30mph on an A-road. Pneumatic bike tyre failures are bad enough, but at least they remain balanced and flat. an unbalanced wheel going clunk twice every rotation because a chunk has fallen off would be horrific. Not to mention if the LED strip tangles in something.

  5. Clear rubber tyres can and have been made. The problem is the Carbon Black normally added to tyres makes a significant contribution to their durability and overall wear lifetime, so translucent tyres (belted or otherwise) would not last long and be very fragile.

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