The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Well-lit bikes and the people who ride them

Posted by on November 5th, 2010 at 9:47 am

When it comes to being well-lit, Mark Allyn does it with style.
(Photos © J. Maus)

With TriMet’s “Be Seen, Be Safe” event set for tonight (5:00, Pioneer Square, be there!), I thought it’d be fun to delve into our photo archives for some shots of well-lit bikes and the people who ride them. One of the main events tonight is a Lit bike contest that I’m sure will draw some of our local hi-vis experts.

Cycle Oregon Day 4 - Lake Selmac to Glendale-4

Jim Parsons.

When I think of well-lit bikes, two people pop into my head. One is none other than Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons and the other is local artist Mark Allyn.

Jim is an interesting and very kind fellow who you’ve likely seen at local bike events. He lives in Beaverton, he is (by far) the most prolific member of the BikePortland Forums, and he does more citizen activism for bicycling than anyone I’ve ever met (he’s actually obsessed with it; seriously).

Jim gave his mom’s bike the “Parsons treatment.”

How many lights can one handlebar hold?
BikeCraft III-19.jpg

Jim’s bike in full dress.
K'Tesh and his UFO Bike

This guy is impossible to miss.

Among Jim’s many interests are making himself and his bike as reflective and well-lit as possible. He has painstakingly layered his entire bike with reflective tape and he has more lighting systems on his handlebars and helmet than I can keep track of. In addition to the tape and the lights, he’s down with the Down Low Glow. When you see him tonight, make sure you say “hi,” but also make sure you don’t look directly into his lights or you could go blind.

No talk of bike lights in this town would be complete without the “master of light” Mark Allyn. Mark is an artist who lives in Southeast Portland. He makes spectacular, light-infused rain-gear and jewelry that always draws a crowd. It will not be possible to miss him at the event tonight (hopefully he shows up!).

Bike Fashion Show_ride and afterparty-78

Note the cool, light-infused necklace he made.
Mark Allyn, master of light-8.jpg

From the front.
Filmed by Bike 2009-47

In full dress.
Filmed by Bike 08-44.jpg

Wowing the crowds at Filmed by Bike.
Mark Allyn, master of light-1.jpg

He makes the jacket too.

Mark and Jim aren’t the only locals who know how to light up a bike. Check a few shots below for more inspiration and don’t forget to roll by Pioneer Square tonight at 5:00 for all the fun, free lights from TriMet, hot cocoa, the Lit Bike contest, and more!

Bike Light Parade

Coventry Cycles owner Marilyn “Tweety” Hayward struts her stuff.
Bike Light Parade

Reflective fashion.
The faces of Get Lit

Lights make people happy.
(Photo: Jeff Bernards)
Bike Light Parade

Don’t forget to show up, lights blazing, at TriMet’s Be Seen, Be Safe event. It happens tonight at 5:00pm at Pioneer Square.

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  • Ely November 5, 2010 at 10:26 am

    WANT the Down Low Glow!!!

    also, Mark Allyn is my hero. Get Lit!! 😀

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  • K'Tesh November 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I’m blushing!

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  • Matt Haughey November 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I rocked some spoke lights at the Blind Date cross series this year and it was a lot of fun (without adding hardly any weight to the wheels).

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  • KoolKat November 5, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Great story and pics. Very cool!

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  • Sean G November 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

    It’s a shame that tripods are forbidden to the general public in Pioneer Courthouse Square, there’ll be some interesting photo opportunities there that will be missed without a stable setup.

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  • Carl November 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    BIKES aren’t allowed in Pioneer Square either. I think you’ll probably be able to get away with a tripod tonight. Just make sure it’s well-lit and I doubt anyone will complain!

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  • Marlowe November 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve been wanting to purchase some very visible wheel, spoke or valve stem lights to complement my head and tail lights. Does anyone have recommendations on products they like?

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  • Atbman November 5, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Wasn’t Mark Allyn in Tron?

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  • G. Tyler November 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    That first picture of Mark Allyn definitely has a ‘mad scientist’ look. Too Fun!

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  • Skid November 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Mark Allyn rules the night!

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  • Nate November 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    @ 7

    I have Monkey Electric spoke LEDs on my commuter. They weigh a lot because of the batteries, so I recommend getting two and putting them on opposite sides of the wheel for balance. They sure are bright though, and I get complimented on them all the time.

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  • C-Dawg November 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    @Marlowe #7: check out for some great wheel spoke lights. A little pricey at $75 per wheel, but they are very effective and eye catching from the side angle. I’ve been using mine for about 4 months now, no problems at all. They do unbalance the wheels a bit, but it’s only noticeable at 30 mph going fast downhill. Not scary side-to-side, just a “pulsed” forward and back feel.

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  • Carl November 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    The BTA will be handing out free “Tireflys,” that mount on SCHRADER valves tonight. They’re green. They blink. They’re worth every penny.

    If you want to get fancy, C-Dawg’s right. The monkeyelectric ones are a great pick.

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  • 3-speeder November 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    A warning about schrader valve lights that I learned about 4 years ago after Portland’s Night Ride. (I don’t know if they were “Tireflys” or not.) I put them on for the ride and left them on thereafter. I had a flat tire several days later, so replaced the tube. And then I had another flat a few days after that. Puzzled, I scoured the tire looking for the micro-pin without success.

    Finally, as I was immersing section by section of the tube in a bucket of water without discovering any hole, I noticed an extremely slow bubbling coming out of the valve.

    It turns out the shrader valve light, when screwed all the way down, put just the slightest pressure down on the valve, thus releasing air from the tire extremely slowly. Removing it, and all flat tires became instantly fixed.


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  • q`Tzal November 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I’d like some turn signal lights that are easy and definative; most drivers can’t remember the important rules, why should we think they remember a 100 year old hand. Signal standard?

    Also: shameless self promotion of my forum thread on weird bike lights:

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  • Paul Tay November 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Lights. Bikes. Action!

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  • Perry Hunter November 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    @ Marlowe – Those spoke reflectors on K’tesh’s bike are fantastic, and cheap. I got them at Performance in Beaverton. They are a bit of a pain to put on, but well worth it.

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  • K'Tesh November 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

    @ Marlowe – The reflectors you see in my Mom’s wheel are called “Lightweights For Wheels”. They come in a pack of 80 or so reflectors (adding about 2 grams to your bike).

    Clean the spokes. Use the included alignment guide (I mark the spokes using a sharpie pen). Apply.

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  • K'Tesh November 8, 2010 at 8:58 am

    @ Jonathan – How many lights can a handlebar hold? I’ve had as many as 5 on a bike. Practically I’m using 2, but currently running w/4.

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  • Marlowe November 8, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for all the great tips everyone!

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  • Peter Buck November 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    For signaling turns at night I wrap an LED leg strap around my left wrist. For visibility I have a day-glow green mesh vest with reflective strips and rows of flashing LEDs. I’ve had drivers roll down their windows to compliment me on the vest and I often get references to being lit like a Christmas tree. It’s good to be noticed at night. For long commutes dual headlight systems are a must – if one dies you have a backup system. I use a Niterider MiNewt.x2 Dual mounted on a Topeak BarXtender and a Niterider Headtrip mounted directly to the handlebars.

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