We’ve been making progress with the bike lights and whilst it might seem like one of those baking shows where the buns are instantly cooked and fresh out of the oven, we’ve done a bunch of prep work to get to this point.
Your inputs are helping us to refine the products so that they go from a product that we’ve developed in a silo - that may or may not fulfil all your needs - to a co-developed product where you get to make sure as much of what you want to see makes it to the final product as possible.
With that, I’d like to show you how the design of the bike light itself has evolved and the thought process behind it.
A need to stand out
As of today, the bike light market is a fairly crowded space with a lot of different brands and options to choose from and at a pretty wide price range.
When we look at smart bike lights, the options become a little more lacklustre.
Most of these lights work in a way you’d expect. Press a button, light turns on, press the button again to cycle through flashing modes and that about sums it up. Whilst this adequately solves the problem of cycling with a bike light to make the cyclist more visible on the road and to comply with local laws, it doesn’t really go far beyond that. There are some lights that address a really important issue; side visibility, but in my opinion, most bike light manufacturers aren’t really thinking about it enough, whilst the best solutions for side visibility haven’t really taken off for some reason.
That said, another Kickstarter campaign - the Arclight Pedals do a decent job of addressing side visibility. We heard a few of you mention them in our comments too and we also think they’re pretty cool.
Defining the shape of these bike lights has been an interesting exercise. As we know that these will be the first in a line of smart bike light products from Lumos, we’re not just defining the shape of these bike lights, but are instead defining a whole design language around what the complete family of lights will look like in the future. The challenge was coming up with a look and feel that works really well for the first bike light, but is also versatile enough to create new and interesting shapes for future bike lights.
Here’s how that went…
So we started with a simple form exploration to just throw out a few simple shapes and get the conversation started with the product team.
We found the ‘X’ designs to be pretty eye-catching and quite distinctive within the initial set of ideas. The triangular shape also stood out as being quite unique, but when thinking about the compromises we’d have to make on the battery size to achieve this shape (triangle shaped batteries are not very common at all) we decided the ‘X’ within the circular enclosure was worth exploring.
At this point, we were quite happy with the initial ‘box’ and so switched gears to start making it really functional. That meant figuring out the LEDs.
The Design of the LEDs
Since we’re making bike lights, the LEDs themselves are arguably the most important aspect of the product. So we spent a lot of time getting them right.
Our goals with the LEDs were to address the following set of highly scientific requirements:
- Be really bright
- Be really efficient and last long
- Be seen from any angle
- Be small and not take up too much space
- Make users say ‘ooooo’
From our early prototypes, we managed to achieve a few of these requirements, but the ones that were somewhat lacking were the brightness and we were only getting ‘ooo’ from first time users. The number of Os matter.
We wanted to crank out more power which meant that our battery would no longer be sufficient. We needed to either make the light bigger, or the shape squarer. But making it a box effectively dropped an O, so we went for something in between.
By ballooning the simple square, we’re able to still make it somewhat rounded and an interesting form in both look and feel.
We pushed forward with this new form direction and created our initial beta test units.
We received a bunch of really positive feedback and ideas on how to improve the lights further. There was just something that seemed to be missing though. Something that didn’t feel quite right.
We needed more Os!!!
There were actual benefits to this new LED direction. For starters, we were able to pack more diodes into the design, allowing for a fuller profile and to be seen from a wider angle. Whilst the ‘X’ direction seemed interesting, when we prototyped the ring COB option, there was an apparent favorite amongst the team, so we moved forward with this new direction for the LEDs.
Now whilst they certainly look better, we were still facing an issue with brightness and just how much power this setup can pump out without dying too fast.
Roughly where we want to be.
We went back to the drawing board and came up with another solution to the brightness issue. What if we had an always-on light, and then a separate LED to achieve our brightness requirement?
All of these take up the same amount of battery life. The way forward was obvious from here.
So where we’re at right now is that we have a COB component which carries the red and yellow lights for turn signals, and 3 high powered LEDs, 2 for red and one for white.
We wanted ‘running lights’ for the white setup as well, but unfortunately due to size constraints, had to prioritize the rear red light.
There were also a few questions in the survey about why we didn’t go for dedicated lights (i.e. a front version and a rear version) and the answer to that is to achieve the versatility that we prioritized for these particular lights.
The benefit to the customer is that they have the flexibility to use each light as they please. Say, for example, that one light unfortunately runs out of battery in the middle of a ride. With this design, the customer can decide which direction they need the extra light and can easily swap their lights around so that they have light where it’s most critical.
We do however intend to create actual dedicated front and rear lights in the future. They’re going to be a bit more special than just bigger dedicated versions of these lights, so stay tuned even if these particular lights are not for you.
There were a few other concerns about turn signal visibility during the daytime and we completely agree that this is something that needs to be addressed.
We ended up boosting the power of the turn signals so that the yellow diodes are now using up a bit more power when they’re activated. Since these particular lights aren’t on all the time, we figured it would be okay to have these consume a little more battery power than the red diodes to ensure that they’re really visible during the day.
It’s a bit tricky to capture actual brightness on camera, but hopefully these light cones will show that we’ve boosted the brightness by about 30% for the turn signals.
A happy accident
During one of our beta testing rounds, we were keen to try out the idea of a touch sensor to remove any physical button on the light.
Whilst this was a fun idea, in practice it wasn’t as robust as we wanted it to be. The lack of feedback made it difficult to tell whether a press had registered or not and there were plenty of instances of accidental presses. Additionally, wearing gloves whilst using the lights was a pain too since the button was capacitive, meaning that skin contact was required to activate it. We ultimately decided to drop this feature and to focus on a button that was easier to press with gloves on.
However, the aesthetic achieved by having a metallic plate right in the center of the light was a nice little feature we missed when it was removed. So we decided to bring it back in the form of a reflector dish that helps to focus the white beam a little and increase its brightness a bit further.
We’re still exploring chrome color options for the reflector dish and are considering a limited edition color for our launch. Let us know what colors you’d love to see.
It’s been a bit of a journey but we’re getting closer to the final design. The latest version of the light itself has gone through a number of iterations and improvements to the point where we’re running out of things to make better. There’s still a lot of stuff to share regarding all the other aspects, such as the user experience, which I’ll cover in the next post.
Tell us what you think
This was a deep dive into how we think about design here at Lumos and I hope you enjoyed getting a little glimpse of it. We still want to hear your thoughts about where we ended up with the light design, whether you like it or if you’d have preferred we took a different direction. Let us know in the comments and also feel free to suggest what else you’d like to hear about as we get closer towards launch!
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I’m really happy to see you are doing the always on plus a flash/pulse, from some research I read that really helps drivers see where a rider is much better than just the flashing.
I hear your story about moving lights around if battery runs low on one but this has never happened to me or my friends so the flexibility may not really be that big of a selling point/feature. Especially since its likely cheaper to buy a front or rear light vs one that can do both (and likely you’r only going to use it for one or the other anyway).
What I would like to see thought is a quick way to determine or see the amount of charge remaining (like you can on the remotes in your app). Then the example of an low charge light is almost zero in reality. (I’m really not convinced that flexibility is a selling factor!)
My main attraction to Lumos has always been turn signals and it’s ease of use. I want to be visible on my rides and your helmets have helped greatly. When I got my ultra I was disappointed it couldn’t incorporate a from turn signal but these lights currently look suitable for fitting on the end of my handlebars and also could lead to me being a quite a few as I would like them to be front and rear light but plus indicators which means maybe 2 front to indicate and 1 rear minimum so cost will be key too
I love the idea to put it on handlebar ends. But the last version after your design journey looks very large. I wouldn´t use them. Your cnsiderations on visibility and battery life are right, but at the end it has to match with my bike…
But I look forward and wait untl the end product :-)
I go with a previous comment, how about induction rechargeable lights which work with the weel turns, and are bolted to the bicycle. I hate having to pack my lights somewhere in my pockets each time I go in a shop for fear of having them stolen.
Colors how about the same as your helmets. When are you adding cameras to your lights? and Helmets?
Very Nice Lights, Colors could be red, black, white, blue, silver, lime, or the colors of your helmets. Now just one question when are you going to add cameras to your lights? and Helmets?
Will they be USB-C chargeable or will they come it’s own docking station to charge?
Keep going with this. Regarding rear lights, I already have two that flip-flop with strobing inner led’s, which paired with the onboard rear light make me visible from a distance. Ditto on the front, with the option to make the gutter side light a steady beam, angled down. So I’m not going to be a customer for these.
However following on the comment by Clair Littleton above, on wheel lights, by which I take it to mean units mounted on the tyre valves, these are effective, but impossible to maintain because of the cost of replacing the batteries. What is needed is a unit that generates its own power by virtue of its motion. I don’t think anyone has done this yet. I would buy those.
I like the Developement, but how about adding passive reflectance and siege lenses to focus the led light to the sides for much better visibility. The passive reflectance is just as important as I feel I want to be seen in every way possible. When the batteries discharge, you are still protected by the reflectors.
Love how you can sync the turning signs with your helmet I can use that in the front to let the cars know I’m turning right.
I find the turn signals on my helmet VERY useful as they keep my hands on the bars in full control. And drivers have no problem understanding my intentions.
However I like the idea of turn signals on the ends of the handlebars but that’s where my mirrors are. You need a workaround for that otherwise better location. You will get both side alert and turn signals in one; it’s a very good idea!
I like the idea of a combined steady COB + high power flashing LED.
Side visibility is important to me, while yellow blinkers are not.
I will definitely wait for separate front and back lights, with their own dedicated combination of COB + High power LED
My helmet remote was stolen from the bike. The thief would not have any use of it since Lumos helmets are not very common in Denmark. I believe the reason for the theft was that ‘ooo’ factor of the remote was high.
Maybe keeping ‘ooo’ low is also a way of not having hard to get and expensive accessories stolen :(
I would love if my lumoa matrix helmet was synced with a separate pair of turn signals I could put on my bike trailer I have for my 4 year old
Thanks for the great article as always. The design of the light looks great but I have one more thing to or a couple to mention and this should not deter you from continuing on with the design and everything. You asked for our opinions and we have to give them ofcourse.
I would buy this light as am a fan for life but the question I beg to differ is, the design looks more and more like a Knog bike light. I have one and it looks quite exact like it although Knog isn’t a smart bike light. But I wonder apart from needing to install several more lights on my bike, what else would this bike really do? I find that a smart bike light should do more than just blink left and right. If we are talking about safety here, why don’t you include a feature like the Garmin one where the light alerts the rides of an oncoming car? And somehow the indicator can be the same smart button we use for our helmets? Maybe the button can flash or something depending on the direction traffic is coming from? I don’t know but it’s just an idea. I don’t seem to like the idea of having lights all over my bike handles. Don’t want to end up looking like a Christmas Tree 🎄. I mean attached on a backpack? Okay but handles? I don’t know! Seems abit too much or?
Second question I have; I own a Vanmoof, pretty cool bike with integrated front and back lights. They aren’t smart lights but they are made by Philips and are pretty decent and have a nice design. The helmet comes in pretty handy and is a nice touch and addition to the bike, but why would I buy an extra bike light like this? 🤔.
I know I sound so critical right now and like I said this shouldn’t deter you. But just like you guys made a helmet that stands out from the crowd for miles, the expectations are now quite high. We should get a world class bike light that has special features that make people go “ooooooooooooo” not just a bike light that’s an addition to the already crowded bike light market.
Thanks and greetings from Germany.
As an original finder of the Lumos kickstarter I’m always interested in what you do. Like others I don’t use the turn signals much as I don’t really try think people recognise them, but the flashing helmet is a lifesaver.
I think you have done a great job with all the research and have considered numerous factors. I like being able to move my lights to where they will fit on the three bikes I have. Two are mountain bikes and the third is a Fat Tire bike. This is a bigger/thicker frame and having an adjustable/removeable light works best for me. Please ensure it can accommodate a thicker frame.
A long lasting light is ideal. This is the biggest draw back for me with lights. I live in Northern Canada so I need my lights to last a long time while commuting to/from work. I cycle in the dark a lot.
As well, I really like lights that attach to the wheels. People can see you very easily . . .side view is really important and I hope you go after this once this current project is done.
Interesting concept. I agree with others here that the “Turn Signal” aspect needs to be considered more moving forward. I have both a Mk1 and a Ultra helmets and i stopped using the turn signal because it was basically ignored by motorists in real world use. Hand signals were expected by drivers where a bright flashing light was not. So on more than one occasion I have been in a near miss because of a communication issue with a driver based on confusion around the big bright flashing light on my helmet. Maybe the only real issue is around driver education. Still when this light is commercially available I’ll consider the function rather than the form and maybe I’ll add it to my repertoire of other bike equipment. keep going it looks interestin
Really really great insight into what and how you guys go about solving for a practical requirement. Keep up the education it’s as interesting as your products👍
Love the innovations and thought process behind it.
@Bill those were RevoLights. Shame they went under…
I like rounded cube but I love the idea of installation on the handlebars that match the helmet signals. while signaling via helmet is great, if you’re checking and making sure this safe to cross over, your head is turned which kind of cancels out the function. pairing both of these together more than doubles the effectiveness of the signaling which I love.
very interesting development, i am still on my 2 original kickstarter helmets and cannot fault them, and this is another winner
I like the larger rounded square design, I ride a recumbent bike and would use 1 front light and 2 rear lights on the back of the seat/backrest
Very cool, and awesome to see the process from its inception to now. Definitely appreciate the effort you all are putting into this project too. I remember finding your Kickstarter almost SEVEN years ago now, and the growth is also a joy to watch.