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A partial catch-up post

Concept 8 562

I have been especially busy with work since my recent trip, so I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. I have seen some interesting things to share lately though, so I will quickly pass along a few of them today.

Sparse-Taillight I don’t know what it is about bike lights and Kickstarter, but there always seem to be a few light designs looking for funding there. The Sparse Bicycle Lights by Colin Owen stands out from many of the others though…which probably explains why the project met (and exceeded) the funding goal.  The front “spacer” light is held in place beneath the stem, and the rear light clamps around the seatpost with a recessed allen head. Both look nice and clean on the bike and seem to be well designed from a functional point of view too. Read more about them at Bike Rumor and Core77.

spectracamAnother interesting project that recently ran on Kickstarter was the SPECTACAM dual video sports helmet cam with WiFi by Josiah Ng. For cyclists who are recording rides primarily to have footage in the case of an accident, the front and rear dual recording makes a lot of sense. The concept integrates with a smartphone to allow the user to control camera functions live and remotely. The project did not reach its funding goal, but there is a website and a Facebook page if you want more information.

Orp-Smart-hornSince I’m on a roll with Kickstarter projects, I’ll mention the Orp Smart Horn by Tony Orzeck. If you are wondering what a smart horn is, the site describes it as “a combination dual tone, high-decibel bike horn and front beacon light.” I have used a bike bell before (mainly on paths) but never a horn. In traffic though, a product like the Orp might be a useful safety tool (to only be used when necessary of course). I would be curious to hear if any of you have used a loud horn on your bike, and what you think of this idea.

Kranium-cardboard-helmetYou may remember the cardboard helmet that was spreading around the web a couple years ago. Well, the design by Anirudha Surabhi is back in the news, as it has recently been licensed by German lock and helmet company Abus and has passed European safety testing. Read more at Bike Radar and Wired.

A new 12-speed wireless electronic group was announced last week by Italian component firm Tiso. I am not a fan of the aesthetics of the new group, but I am really glad to see it hitting the market. Hopefully this new group will shake things up a bit. Read about it, and see a video of the wireless shifting in action, at Bike Radar.

porte ami ensembleIt is not uncommon to see a passenger riding on the rear rack of a bike. Based on that idea, French designer Marion Excoffon has created a “friend carrier” for bikes. See sketches and additional images of the prototype rack/seat on her website.

relective-bike-bostonJosh from Bike Safe Boston used an ultra-durable reflective coating made by Halo Coatings to make his bike the “safest on the road.”  Read about his DIY project at Bike Safe Boston.

I have many more links to pass along, but that’s all I have time for right now. Check back tomorrow for a few concept bikes that I have been meaning to share lately though.



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  1. Andy December 20, 2012 at 9:38 am -  Reply

    This blog would sound more interesting if your subject lines and first paragraphs weren’t *always* about catching up. Just my 2 cents.

    I stopped looking at Kickstarter projects (esp lights!) unless I see it from ~3 sources first. Just too much noise and not enough signal to be worth it anymore with so many repeat products. I get more interested once they’ve met the funding goals, though I can’t recall seeing anything actually for sale yet, though I’m sure someone must be successful from that process. Have you seen any good examples of funded and available for purchase products yet?

    I’ve seen the cardboard helmet doing the rounds, and I have to say that I can’t imagine it working for most of the US without vents. But with vents, cardboard probably isn’t the best material for waterproofness either. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Considering great helmets can be bought for $30, it’s going to be a hard market to break into.

    • James Thomas December 20, 2012 at 10:06 am -  Reply

      Yeah, I can’t disagree with your first statement. I know that my whole “too busy to post” complaint is starting to become very predictable. I’ll quit putting it in writing, but I guess the bigger question is whether or not I have time for the blog anymore at all. If I keep it going, I want it to be interesting, so some bigger changes may be in order. I still love doing it, but it is getting harder to fit into my life these days.

      I too have seen Kickstarter projects that were successfully funded and still didn’t seem to go any further. I have also seen a few successful products from established companies that probably would have been released without any help from Kickstarter (the square bottle from Clean bottle for instance). There are a few, like this one, that get funding and are then available for purchase on a website. I think most of the ones like that fly under the radar though.

      I agree on the helmet. Anything without vents would be useful only for short slow rides (urban commutes, perhaps). The shell may keep the rain out, but if it keeps the sweat in that certainly won’t help the cardboard structure.

      • Andy December 20, 2012 at 10:16 am -  Reply

        I know actually creating a product even with the funding in place must be difficult, but I wonder what happens with funded projects that go no further. Are people scamming KS by posting good ideas with no intention to ever produce, hoping to cash in their funding money? I guess that also opens the door to approach an established company and say “This project got backing; people want it; I’ll sell you my design to be produced”

        I find a bag company particularly interesting for KS. I recently started making similar handlebar bags on nothing more than a $150 sewing machine. I’d sure love $15,000 in my pocket to encourage me to ramp it up though!

        • James Thomas December 20, 2012 at 10:27 am -  Reply

          “I find a bag company particularly interesting for KS. I recently started making similar handlebar bags on nothing more than a $150 sewing machine. I’d sure love $15,000 in my pocket to encourage me to ramp it up though!”

          I think you hit the nail on the head. Instead of bootstrapping to get a product out, people are using kickstarter to build a bigger than necessary cushion. Risk is part of starting a business, and perhaps there is some value to knowing that you HAVE TO provide a good product or service to survive.

          I also wonder when I see companies like Volagi and Clean Bottle using it. They may still be small companies, but it is not like they are individuals trying to get an idea off the ground.

  2. fred December 20, 2012 at 9:55 am -  Reply

    I like the reflective bike idea – I guess the easy way to get some more reflection is with tape, but it would be nice if manufacturers started to use reflective paints.

    Random question: why aren’t there generally LED lights powered by dynamo? LEDs use so little power I would have thought it would be really easy, possibly with the dynamo only working when the brakes were engage or something. Or using a dynamo & LEDs to light up a bike like a Christmas tree.

    It’ll need some electronics to take the power from the dynamo and convert it to DC and the correct voltage, but that can’t be too much more than diodes, resistors and capacitors… maybe that’ll be my next project.

    • Andy December 20, 2012 at 10:07 am -  Reply

      Dynamo lights are great, but the complication is that good hub systems designed for extended use cost around $350 to start (Shimano 3n-dh80, Busch&Muller Cyo, Busch&Muller Toplight Line) and require rebuilding a wheel (~$30 in spokes plus labor). Cheaper options exist, such as $20 sidewall bottle generators with a B&M Lyt and a cheaper taillight ($80 total), but sidewall bottle dynamos don’t grip well in the rain/snow/ice, are noisy and have noticeable drag. A few projects have tried magnet powered lights, but so far none have proven to be very effective beyond a “See-me” type of light. On the other hand, 300 lumen LED battery powered flashlights are now as low as $5, with bike mounts available too.

    • James Thomas December 20, 2012 at 10:13 am -  Reply

      A few manufactures are using reflective paint. There were the Biomega and Puma models a few years back, and Pure has one now. I would like to see more though.

      LED lights powered by Dynamo exist, but I too would like to see more of them on the market (especially here in the US). If I recall correctly, Specialized showed something recently under the Globe brand. I’ll have to dig into it…unless anyone else remembers the details.

    • Tatiana January 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm -  Reply

      Reflective tape! A friend showed me this last year and now I have it on my frame, wheels, and helmet! I love it and a plus side is it’s cheap. Also it’s a small business located out of Chicago and all their products are made in the US. Check them out!

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