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Hokey Spokes LED Bike Text Display Review

Jan 1 2010, 12:00am CST | by

Hokey Spokes LED Bike Text Display Review
 
 

published: 04/15/05 last updated: 04/15/05
Reviewer: Ken Wold


We reported about the Hokey Spokes LED Displays for bikes two weeks ago. Now our I4U reviewer Ken Wold took them out for a spin.

A Hokey Spoke sells for $29.95 at Hokey Spokes.
 
Hokey Spokes Review
This one reads BOISE STATE

Overview
In the serious world we live and work in day-to-day, I find myself yearning for a more playful, whimsical, carefree society.  You know, like the days when we were kids without a care in the world.  So, I decided to change that world if only for a day or two by returning to my “youth”, hopping on my bike and utilizing all of this high tech available to us for some good clean fun.  I also included my children for this travel back in time to see if they would enjoy it too.  Taking them away from their computers, video games, cell phones and all of the other types of “activities” vying for their time.  It worked.  The smiles were infectious, the laughter raucous and the looks from the neighborhood parents/kids were those of awe.  What is all the fuss about turning back the clock for “different” entertainment? Well, it’s the Hokey Spokes effect don’t you know. They are manufactured by Illumination Design Works of Belmont, MA and I’m betting they have more than a few “kids” working with them to come up with this idea. Must be a lot of fun working there!

The “spokes” are high intensity LED illuminating devices you can attach to that bike of yours or your child that’s been collecting dust while you all remain sedentary in your chair or home playing with all of the other high tech equipment everyone craves.  However, in the back of your mind, your family secretly has that desire to get right back on those “archaic”, boring bikes and show the “stuff” we all know we have inside.  That’s right, bicycling fun is back again.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  So what does having some lights on a bike do for you? Plenty. 

You can program individual messages or patterned designs or a combination to personalize that bike and light up the neighborhood.  Upon reviewing the “spokes” devices, I realized they are not cheap plastic that will wear out quickly. They’re solidly built with the design to be placed into bicycle spokes for the best-fit possible. 
The spoke “blades” are transparent for ease of viewing the LED emissions of light from both sides.  The blades contain a microcomputer inside which controls the LED display.  Using from one to six blades on each wheel creates a veritable montage of light, designs and messages you select (up to 16 characters). They also come in a wide array of colors including red, blue, yellow, orange green and rainbow. 

 

Hokey Spokes Review

Hokey Spokes Package.

Retail price is set at $29.95 so they’re relatively inexpensive enough to purchase all six for each wheel.  And, believe me, having six on a wheel really produces some interesting designs and color combinations as you’re riding.  And each blade communicates with all of the others to synchronize the design or text you desire! So, you set one and all of them follow the lead together.  Have the blades cycle through all of the designs or simply show the message you preprogram into it.  Great to have so many choices, right?  The only real limitation for these innovative blades is the wheels must be at least 24” (61cm).  Soon, though, products will be available for 20” (51cm) BMX bikes.  Now imagine those BMX kids having a set of these LED blades on their bikes as they accomplish their flips, half-turns, rips, cracked ribs (oops, meant cracked frames; oh, forget it).  Anyway, you get the picture; an amazing picture of dancing light, images and messages as you go flying by your friends (keep the messages clean now as we’re having FUN here).

The blades are waterproof, require only 3AA batteries (accepts rechargeable) and last 48 continuous hours of usage.  How fast do you have to go for the message to display; a paltry seven mph (11.26km/h).  You know you can still put the pedal to the metal right? The blades have only two buttons and are very easy to use for programming purposes; power (PWR) and select (SEL).  Remember, programming one blade controls all the others.  The instructions were very clear (hmmm, wonder if all companies could follow that lead?) with diagrams to assist you.  If you use more than one blade, simply make sure they are evenly distributed on the wheel with the control buttons outward for ease in changing programming without removing.  Slide them onto the spokes and tighten the “v” groove nuts.  This was the only improvement I could find with this product.  I would suggest utilizing some type of “clip-on” slider tube, which simply clips around the tube.  The groove nuts could come loose with time and we wouldn’t want those things flying around with kids on the bike.  However, if tightened sufficiently and routinely checked by you the “kid” parent; those types of problems shouldn’t occur.  The company calls them “bicycle safety lights” on the package and they ARE an excellent source for you or child’s safety at night.  They are easily seen from up to several hundred feet away. 

Other Hokey Spokes Uses
I thought to myself (self, I said); now what other uses could I find for these LED blades the company possibly didn’t think of (I like to think about things like that and it does wonders for innovation/invention around the world, don’t you think?).  I stood out in the road (no traffic) and valiantly waved them around thinking these would be great for marshaling any potential aircraft having problems and wanting to land in my neighborhood (I know they could see them). 
They’re also great for school zones for your kids’ late night activities and having to cross those highly congested traffic areas.  Just wave them frantically.  Believe me, the cars will stop just to see what the heck you’re holding.  And, hey, you can even get their attention with those individualized messages (remember, be nice!).  You could strap them to your back or those of your kids if they’re really feeling hyper and need to run off some energy and look good doing it too.  Exercise too! Put them on your motorcycle (if you have spoke wheels) and people will think you’re so cool (no, they won’t think you’re a “dork” as they will be jealous they don’t have the “latest” gadget).  If you’re a farmer with a windmill, think of the fun you could have and give to the neighbors and nearby traffic by clipping them on the windmill fins.  Get a large gyroscope and clip them on that device and “wow” your science class. 
Hook them up to your ceiling fan at night and be soothed to sleep to solve those insomnia problems (No place like home….No place like home; sorry, only 16 characters and I love that movie).  Cars have spoke wheels and wheel covers too, so clip these on and use them as an advertising platform for your business.  Believe me, everyone will notice them at night and it’s cheap advertising, huh? Oh, I thought about helicopters, but ahh, er, well let’s not try that alternative, ok? Hey, we’re just having fun here; remember? But, seriously, when using this or any other product, folks, use them as the manufacturer intended.  Safety comes first and these blades definitely promote that.


Conclusion
Finally, I loved these Hokey Spokes, my kids, neighbors and onlookers did too.  They got us all on our bikes and now bike rides can really be fun.  We enjoyed them immensely.  Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering who “Boise State” is in the photo; why, that’s my favorite college football team in Boise, Idaho. There is nothing like supporting them even at night.  If you would like to view a demo video or have any questions, please visit the fine people from Illumination Design Works at www.hokeyspokes.com.  Now, keep having fun!


How to Buy
A Hokey Spoke sells for $29.95 at Hokey Spokes.

 


Specification

High-intensity side visibility
Illuminates on both sides of the wheel
Displays and auto-cycles through different pre-stored designs
Users can input their own text message (up to 16 characters)
Fits on virtually any wheel with any spoke lacing config 24" or larger.
Uses 3 AA batteries per blade
Waterproof design
Red, green, yellow, orange, blue or rainbow lighted versions available
Weighs only 6 oz. with 3 AA batteries
Only 7 mph speed is required for full image persistence
Lasts up to 48 hrs continuous usage on a set of batteries
 


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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr (Google) is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com.

 

 

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