2012-02-17

Co.Exist

A Burly Bike Light To Keep You Safe From Thieves And Cars

The Defender is meant to solve the age-old problem of wanting to ride with lights but not wanting to shell out cash for something that will be snatched off your bike in seconds. It simply can’t be removed by anyone but you once it’s installed.

As a cyclist in New York City, Slava Menn faced a persistent problem: His bike lights kept getting stolen. Then last September, his former MIT classmate Brad Geswein told him the story of a friend who had been hit by a car after losing a bike light to theft. "We realized that it’s more than a nuisance," Menn says. "It’s a real problem."

With backgrounds in engineering, the two of them set about making a theft-resistant light. "Brad’s all about building," Menn says. "He’s like an entrepreneurial MacGyver. He started cranking out prototypes, initially in foam, then wood, then on the Makerbot 3D printer."

Meanwhile, Menn conducted an online survey to see whether this was a common problem. Sure enough, about a third of the 140 cyclists he surveyed had had a bike light stolen.

After months of development, Menn and Geswein ended up with a new company, Gotham Bicycle Defense, and a prototype of its first product, The Defender. Unlike most bike lights, The Defender attaches to your handlebars with a security screw that can only be removed with a special tool. Its aluminum body houses six ultrabright LEDs to make sure you’re noticed on the road and sealed silicone gaskets ensure it will work in the rain. The aggressive design, Menn says, "captures the struggle of urban cycling."

Menn and Geswein spent about $2,000 to build the first prototype but realized they would need more money for a production run, so they decided to try to crowdfund the project through Kickstarter. They blew past their target of $18,000 in just 25 hours. Their initial plan was to make 1,000 Defenders, but they may have to revise that number. They’ve pre-sold 300 of them.

Menn says they’re already thinking about other Gotham products. "Most bike accessories aren’t designed for serious urban riders." Indeed. And from the looks of it, this one could have been made for Batman.

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4 Comments

  • David Kutcher

    While very cool, I think the lights and attachment system that goes with it made by Trail Rail Inc. are much cooler: 
    http://shop.trail-rail.com

    They might not be made to be theft-proof, but more designed not to break apart the first time you wipe out!

  • Lcshih

    Sorry to throw a spanner in the works. What's to stop a thief from nuying one and getting the special tool to strat stealing. Unless of course most thefts are opportunistic.

  • Ksenya

    knowing the enterprising thieves in this town (SF), they will probably steal the whole handlebar. (my mount got stolen without the light the other day).

  • ww1x

    Great idea, good story -- rather than being designed for Batman, though, I'd say it looks like it was made from a .38 Special.