San Francisco-based Mission Bicycle Company has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a city bicycle that reflects light back from its frame and wheels. The company says the innovation is a world first and one that improves safety while riding at night.
Called the Lumen and claimed to be "the world's first commercially available retro-reflective bicycle," the bike was inspired by hyper-reflective street signs and is available in five sizes and three versions – one is single-speed, while the other two have 8-speed Shimano Alfine or Nexus hub gears.
According to the company, “by day the Lumen is a deep charcoal gray, with a slight iridescent sheen. The embedded reflective material adds a unique visual depth."
It adds: “At night, with direct light, the Lumen's frame and rims glow with dramatic effect. There's no on/off switch, no batteries required. This integrated illumination helps identify the rider to surrounding road users.”
So how does it work? Here’s an explanation from Mission Bicycle Company:
Not all reflections are the same. Retro-reflection works by returning light directly to its source, rather than bouncing, scattering or diffusing the light.
Retro-reflection is focused, creating a signal that is brighter and more intense. By coating the entire frame and both rims, the Lumen has more reflective surface area than any existing bicycle solution. Each bike will be painted with hundreds of thousands of microscopic spheres. As light enters those spheres it boomerangs right back to the source. This effect - known as “cat’s eye” - is visible up to 1,000 feet.
The company says that the reason such technology has not been used in bicycles before is that up until now it has only been able to be used in two-dimensional form, such as for painting lines on the road.
Now, however, Halo Coatings has devised a way for it to be applied to three-dimensional surfaces – including bicycle frames. Prototypes were made, and Mission Bicycles says “the results were astonishing, by both day and night.”
The Kickstarter campaign is aimed at bringing the bike into production. The frame of which is
hand-welded 4130 double-butted chromoly steel, with full details of each of the three versions available here.
The bikes themselves, anticipated to be delivered in July, feature among the rewards for those backing the project on Kickstarter.
Those pledging $20 or more get a reflective moon phase decal, and for $35 or more you get a reflective t-shirt.
A pledge of $499 (plus $49 delivery outside the US and potential customs charges) or more gets you a frame and forks (single speed or internally geared version).
Meanwhile complete bikes start at a pledge of $1,245 for the single speed and $1,545 for the hub-geared version, in both cases with $119 for delivery abroad.
With 24 days left, the project has achieved $10,875 of its $15,000 Kickstarter target.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.