Comments on: Reflectivity, why not more? The blog about industrial design in the bike industry Tue, 14 Apr 2015 10:21:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Sean Thu, 30 Aug 2012 16:23:36 +0000 Cyglo tyres are the best tyre lights ive seen, when i was at the Cork Cycling Show sooper cool! Take a look Aura rim lights to i think both are still in the RD stage

By: Helmet Design Engineer Thu, 11 Dec 2008 21:27:00 +0000 I am the lead design engineer for helmets at one of the largest bicycle helmet manufacturers. Sorry, but I can’t/won’t name which.

There are several issue that I would like to mention regarding the subject. Before I begin, let me say, “We are working on it…”

1) Cost
Things cost money. Unfortunately, if you want manufacturers to spend $0.25 more on a helmet, you do have to pay an extra dollar. Stop buying the cheapo $40 helmet!

2) Durability
Most reflective materials come in tape form and have to be applied to the outside surface of the helmet, which is most prone to damage from daily abuse.

3) Liability
Once you claim that your helmet or product is safer because it is reflective, you have to back it up with evidence. Unfortunately, there is support for AND against reflective materials.

Also, if you material becomes damaged during use, who is liable for the resulting lack of safety?

4) How do you rate the level of extra safety that your customers are provided?
Distance you can see the product?
How well you can see it?

5) Do all of the customers VALUE the reflectivity, knowing that it is a trade-off and the helmet won’t look as cool?
Although more safety conscious customers will buy the helmet, many others will now NOT buy it.

6) COST (again)

To sum up, it is not as simple as it may seem.
Regardless, “We are working on it…..”

By: M Sun, 15 Jun 2008 17:49:00 +0000 Regarding the whole “blinking light” argument, the UK Highway Code says you CAN’T put your light on blink mode, probably for the very reasons mentioned (distraction to drivers etc.)

It MUST be on constant-on mode, which makes it look more like car tailights, and less distracting.

You’re breaking the law if you don’t use the light though!

By: kind1 Fri, 30 May 2008 03:27:00 +0000 Biker Dude, Thanks for the words.

Yeah Trek was there last year at the Demo but they have not been a part of the show at the Sands since ’05.

As for Kind at Interbike, we will not be on the show floor. We feel like most in the indusrty that the expense to payback ratio at interbike is small – a good (but old) link on what some in the industry say about it:

However we but may try to get involved if the talked about organized urban ride along the strip comes to fruition.

This brings me back to the original post – the show is geared towards the super high end and some say borders on elitist. Maybe we are part of the problem by not showing up with our sub $1000 line but we can’t justify the cost. We would rather take a road trip to individual shops, get to know them all at a fraction of the cost.

Oh and yeah, we will have reflective decals on our second production run…

By: Biker Dude Thu, 29 May 2008 17:35:00 +0000 Kind1 –
I’ve actually spent time in Trek’s booth at the last two Interbikes. I think they had the largest display at the demo. On the issue of Interbike, will Kind Bike ( be exhibiting at the show this fall? Curious to see the bikes in person – they look nice. Like the philosophy, too.

By: James Wed, 28 May 2008 21:29:00 +0000 Great discussion here. Thanks to all of you for some really good comments.

Carl, you are right. I am an industrial designer as well, so this blog is about design not engineering. I also agree that Ron’s statement does describe what an industrial designer should do. In general, I would say that designers are (usually) more in tune with how a user relates to a product, aesthetically and physically, while engineers are focused on the details of making a product function well. Of course, that is a gross generalization. In my career, I have worked with some engineers who had a great eye for design and others who seemed to forget that people actually had to use the products they were engineering. To be fair, I have also known industrial designers who design products without really seeing the big picture (usually they are more stylists than designers). Training and education are obviously important, but I think a lot of it comes down to the individual and how they think. Anyway, as jimmythefly pointed out, good products are usually a collaborative effort between industrial designers and engineers.

And Charles, I agree, reflective strips on the rim between spokes are a good idea. I have them on my commuter bike too.

By: bikesgonewild Wed, 28 May 2008 20:38:00 +0000 …jimmythefly…thanks for the input & ya, it’s basically what i assumed…i was just looking for a world view…

…i’ve done (years ago) some design work in the bike biz but w/ absolutely no specific training other than a sculptural background & a love of bicycles…

…i’ve said it here before…there have always been (& i’ve met a few of ‘em) gung-ho young engineers coming out of tech schools w/ the intent of re-inventing the bicycle & setting the biz on fire…

…but take a look around at how the bicycle has been on a constant evolutionary path…the basic concept was wonderfully sound in the beginning & remains so…

By: jimmythefly Tue, 27 May 2008 21:36:00 +0000 BGW:

A quick-and-dirty way of thinking of it is that engineering involves math, industrial design is most everything else.

If a product is modified, both disciplines are involved (even if it’s all done by the same person!)

Note I said quick-and-dirty. There are many things I don’t know, and things like budget and intended customer and human factors and all other sorts of stuff need to happen for a new product, too.

By: kind1 Tue, 27 May 2008 19:58:00 +0000 It is happening slowly, even at the high end. Sidi’s have red reflectors on the heel, Campy shorts have reflective piping on the seams. A few well known brands are using relfective downtube decals in some of their bikes.

The question is why is it not prevelent at the bike level? There are a number of reasons:

You are asking the same companies who are selling the crap out of bikes with no brakes for use in an urban environment to also add safetly features to that same line…

Every bike that is sold in the US must have front and rear reflectors and wheel reflectors. The industry/gov’t/watchdogs do a poor job of requiring this to be on the bike at final sale the way the European Union standards do.

The industry in general does a good job of forcing products on consumers, not necessariy listening to what consumers want.

When looking at units and dollars, commuter specific bikes represent less than 5% of all sales in the US. And while gaining prevalence, the numbers state it still is not a huge catagory.

Most of the dollars and focus of the industry is spent on a small segment – high end use. Look at Interbike for example. About 18 million bikes are sold each year. Of that, about 4 million bikes are sold per year through the LBS channel (though it does represent about 46% of the total dollars). Trek is the largest and doesn’t even show up to interbike and a few other brands in the top ten don’t either. This means that you have the main trade show for the industry that caters to less than 3million of the 18 million people who buy bikes annually.

This last point is the root of many of the issues in the industry today – including this one.

By: Charles Tue, 27 May 2008 19:10:00 +0000 As a commuter with 10 years of experience in the city I was surprised to find that the most positive comments from drivers referred to the reflective tape on the hub-facing parts of my rims. 5 strips per wheel, equally spaced between the spokes provides a highly distinctive rotating pattern.
A home brew 48 white LED headlight and tail light with steady and flashing red LEDs was also used.
There is reflective material on my helmet, shoes, panniers, and rack pack; but everyone commented on the wheel strips.
Oh yes, and ride defensively; you don’t get to be an old bike commuter by taking stupid chances.