Head and rear lights on bikes have been around for decades, but what we’ve rarely seen are effective indicators to help cyclists signal their intention to turn or merge in traffic. Cycling start-up CYCL spotted this gap in the market and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and fill it.
WingLights are such a simple design and concept – you fix an aluminium mount onto the end of your handlebars, and then magnetically ‘snap’ an amber light on to each end. Before you make a turn you tap the end of the relevant handlebar to turn your ‘indicator’ on, then tap it back off again after you’ve turned. When you’re not on your bike, the magnetic lights come off with ease, and then the two of them ‘snap’ together on a carabiner to create a keyring.
“It’s very secure, even if the bike goes over, but it attaches and detaches in seconds,” Simon Bardrick, part of the CYCL team, told Techly.
“There were a few clumsy attempts in the past where the whole of the handlebar grip was the indicator. This is unique in that its so simple – just the aluminium friction mount, high-power LEDs, and reflectors.”
Simon explained that high-powered LEDs helped the team fulfil their design brief.
“The design criteria we had, it couldn’t be intrusive, it had to look like it naturally came with the bike – didn’t want frog eyes on the end of the handlebars.
“The other point is that it then comes out and transforms into this neat little pendant-keyring. It’s quite amusing to show to people and say ‘what do you think this is?’ And they say, ‘I’m not sure but I want one.'”
Simon explained that while WingLights were a team effort, the story began with CYCL’s cofounder, Luca Amaduzzi. Born in Italy, Luca had been “riding scooters from the age of two”, so to come to London and experience the city’s traffic from the seat of a bike was daunting. Particularly in the British winter, when the sun sets before 5pm, to ride home after work can be a harrowing experience due to the lack of visibility.
Thus plenty of research into lights, visibility and psychology was conducted before creating the product – the amber coloured lights were no accident.
“If you see an amber light you behave differently to a white or red light, as it’s the colour for movement or intended movement. There’s a certain level of psychology behind that. It’s to grab the attention of drivers and walkers.”
However Simon was keen to point out that WingLights are not intended to replace hand signals, which cyclists are required by law to give.
“One of our pointers is that WingLights reinforce hand signalling – they’re there to say ‘I’m here, I’m hand signalling’. It’s to reinforce and grab attention to that hand signal. We don’t in any way want it to replace hand signals.”
For the Kickstarter campaign, a pledge of £14 (around $AU25) will get you an earlybird WingLight, with the project aiming to raise £8,500 (around $AU15,000).
“That’s enough to get set-up and get our first production run out,” Simon told us. “Then we can start to really see how it works, evaluate it, get early adopter feedback. We have some pretty solid working prototypes but until you get feedback in numbers you don’t know where the market might be.
“Until you put it out in the markets you don’t know how it’s going to be used – could be on kids’ scooters. One of my friend’s friends wants one for her pram – it could be used for anything.”
If the campaign and the product are successful, CYCL have big plans for their inaugural product.
“The road map is that the WingLights will have an IP address so we can start doing more clever things with them,” Simon said. “Get them connected by a near-field signal, so that they could connect with others and create a synchronised run of WingLights [for cycling groups].
“But we’re looking at other cycling accessories that haven’t been done before.
“Our ethos is ‘What’s going to get people out on the road cycling?'”