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Meet Mark Allyn; clothing artist and master of light

Posted by on April 14th, 2008 at 9:18 am

Mark Allyn made his jacket and wired his bike with vivid LEDs.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Often, the most memorable part of bike events in Portland is not just the event itself, but the people who come to take part. Such was the case at Filmed by Bike — a celebration of cycling on the big screen that brought thousands to Clinton Street Theater over the weekend.

Mark Allyn, master of light-2.jpg

Mark Allyn

At opening night, among the tall-bikers, hula-hoopers, and scantily clad raffle ticket sellers, was 54 year-old Mark Allyn.

Mark calls himself a “hobbyist” sewer, metal crafter, “clothing artist”, and electrician. If you don’t know his name, you’ll know his outfit and his bike.

Among the many wonderful things Mark has created is a bike and riding jacket that lights up in a stunning rainbow of colors unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Red, green, blue, purple, orange — the streaks of color are intense.

Marks says the bright colors are made possible by fiber optics driven by high-powered LEDs and rechargeable nickel metal-hydride batteries.

Filmed by Bike 08-45.jpg Mark Allyn, master of light-8.jpg Mark Allyn, master of light-3.jpg Mark Allyn, master of light-4.jpg

Mark commutes around 40 miles every day from his home near SE 42nd and Division to his job as a Linux specialist with Intel in Hillsboro. He doesn’t own a car and says he does the entire trip by bike “at least once or twice a week” (other days he’ll mix bike and transit).

“I haven’t owned a car since 1978 and my doctor says biking has made a significant improvement to my health…he says I’m the poster-child 54 year-old.”


– See more of Mark’s creations at his website,

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  • DJ Hurricane April 14, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Everyone should have one of those jackets! I was so disappointed when I saw that Mark did not have time to accept commission orders. I\’d order one in a heartbeat!

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  • Stripes April 14, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I first saw Mark\’s awesome clothing creations on the World Naked Bikeride, and am happy to see them again here in these photos!

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  • Steve April 14, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I saw Mark on MAX one a.m. and thought WTF?, another crazy. Seeing it lit up I think, WhereTF do I get me one of those jackets!

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  • Torfinn April 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    That\’s insane.

    I have mixed feelings about this.


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  • Russell April 14, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I don\’t think that I could feel comfortable rocking one of the jackets, but I really want to know how to do something with the fiber optic lighting along my bike. Anyone know a website that might break down how to setup a system (preferably with rechargeable batteries) like his?

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  • alan cordle April 14, 2008 at 10:52 am

    On your left, TRON.

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  • E April 14, 2008 at 11:18 am

    O M G


    Now seriously, how do I trick out my bike like that? It rules!!

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  • BikeBillboards dot blogspot com April 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Dude looks about as silly as the other dudes in SPANDEX.

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  • Opus the Poet April 14, 2008 at 11:43 am

    For information on LEDs and fiber optics go to and do a search for those items. Instructables is the leading site on the web for DIY craziness.


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  • Stripes April 14, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    You can get a great bicycle el wire kit on ebay for about 14 bucks. It comes with battery pack for aa batteries, zip ties, and about 6 feet of el wire for you to wrap around the bike.

    It\’s awesome, and I like it because bikes I see around with it are visible from the sides too.

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  • KT April 14, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Actually, Mark\’s webpage has a pretty succint pdf about making your own lighting system like this for your bike.

    Pretty cool stuff!

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  • Matt Picio April 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    alan (#6) – I think you mean

    \”greetings, program!\” followed by a bike bell that sounds like a 300baud modem.

    yes, I AM a computer nerd. I exist in a binary state: NOT RIDING (0) / RIDING (1)

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  • Matt Picio April 14, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    BTW, carless, bikes everyone, DIY lighting system, Linux guy – he\’s about as \”for the people\” and \”countercultural\” as anyone is going to get. I hope I\’m that cool at 54!

    Can we get him to come Zoobomb?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 14, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    \”Actually, Mark’s webpage has a pretty succint pdf about making your own lighting system like this for your bike.\”


    Just FYI, I was going to link to that, but then I read that Mark says he doesn\’t use \”El Wire\” anymore (as it shows in the guide), because of his concerns about heat transfer and flammability. Now he uses LEDs instead.

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  • Tim Roth April 14, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I\’ve definitely seen Mark a few times at night on Ankeny and wondered how the hell he was so lit up. I definitely envy his visibility, but I wish someone would just make fiber optic brake/shifter cables so we could have all the visibility without the clutter.

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  • Mark Allyn April 14, 2008 at 6:37 pm


    Thank you very much for a wonderful article on me; and thank you folks for the comments!

    I most enjoy working at being different and counterculture in what I hope is a positive way.

    I do wish I have time to make things for others, but with the 40 mile commute and full time job; volunteering (Board of Directors at KB00 Radio; I barely have time to make the things that I enjoy wearing!

    Perhaps if I lose my day job, I can make a career out of this 🙂

    By the way, I ejoyed the flicks! I look forward to parading around for Bike Porn when it comes back to the Clinton!

    Luv you all!

    Mark Allyn

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  • cecil April 14, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I walk home every night on SE Lincoln/Harrison from SE 39th to Ladd Ave, and I encountered Mark one night last winter when he was pulled over adjusting one of his headlights (which, by the way, were the brightest I had ever seen on a bike, and on that walk I see LOTS of lighting set-ups). We had a lovely chat about his creations and the need for visibility as a bike commuter. At that time, he was just switching over to the LEDs, and was working on the jacket – it\’s great to see it in full working order!

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  • 21 speed April 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Very nice jacket. That is some real safety wear. I\’ll bet there are cyclists who are no longer alive who would be alive today if they had been wearing that jacket.

    Excellent work.

    If it\’s not infringing on your money making potential, tell us the basics of how to make lights like that.

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  • moto April 16, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    This is exactly what the city should require by law.

    Now that you have been en-lightened, you have NO EXCUSES!

    If you get hit because you are riding at night without one of these garments it is your own fault.


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  • […] also found this profile of him by Jonathan Maus of Bike […]

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  • Mark Allyn – BikeRanger October 4, 2010 at 4:09 am

    […] he rolls up to a Portland bike event, Mark Allyn is instantly the center of attention. Here is his appearance at the 2010 Filmed By Bike street […]

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