The new Torch bike helmet incorporates 10 wide-angle LEDs.

While modern lights are increasingly powerful, they tend to direct beams in relatively narrow widths; The Torch diffuses it. There are five lights in the front of the helmet, and five in the back.

The LEDs have a 130-degree glow, compared to a more standard 30 degrees. The result is a wider beam that provides all-around visibility for the biker and other road-users.

The helmet lights have steady, slow, and fast flash modes, all powered by rechargeable battery.

The battery will last two hours at full beam, or eight hours flashing.

It takes about two hours to recharge from a USB connection.

The Torch is slightly heavier than a conventional helmet, and a little more expensive at $120.

2013-03-29

Co.Exist

A Brightly Lit Bike Helmet Keeps Your Glowing Head Safe From Cars

The Torch is a helmet with built-in LEDs so that you can be seen from all sides, not just the front and back.

When it comes to bike safety, it helps to be noticed, and see all around you. Which is the point of this new bike helmet design that incorporates 10 wide-angle LEDs.

"The goal is to create the largest lit surface possible, rather than a small cluster of lights," says Nathan Wills, the designer. "The largest surface area is always going to be the rider, so it made sense to spread out the lights at different angles."

While modern lights are increasingly powerful, they tend to direct beams in relatively narrow widths; The Torch diffuses it. There are five lights in the front of the helmet, and five in the back.

The LEDs have a 130-degree glow, compared to a more standard 30 degrees. The result is a wider beam that provides all-around visibility for the biker and other road-users.

Wills got the idea when he started cycling in Los Angeles a few years ago. He’d had a bad accident as a kid, and he says he felt unsafe with the normal light set-up. "Cycling in L.A. at night is almost a death-wish. Even though I had lights on my bike, and was wearing a helmet, I didn’t feel comfortable."

After designing a fourth prototype, he put a request on Kickstarter, eventually raising almost $70,000. He’s now in the process of fulfilling orders, and preparing for public sales. As well as the helmet, "Torch Apparel" also sells lights-included backpacks.

The helmet lights have steady, slow, and fast flash modes, all powered by rechargeable battery. Wills says the pack will last two hours at full beam, or eight hours flashing; it takes about two hours to recharge from a USB connection. The Torch is slightly heavier than a conventional helmet, and a little more expensive at $120. But Wills says you need to compare combined costs for both headgear and standard lights.

Wills recently entered the design into this year’s James Dyson Awards, as you can see here. And we wrote about another interesting helmet design--with brake lights and signaling system--a few weeks ago. Hopefully, designs like these will help cut accident rates, and help car and truck drivers make better decisions, too.

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3 Comments

  • revamadison

    I do not see a bike light at all.  A helmet light is not a bike light.  No vehicle, of any kind, including bikes should be out at night without a headlamp, and at least one tail light, and should indeed have signal lights on both ends of the bike as well.  As a kid, I had both head/tail/and signal lights, and back then no one wore a helmet.  I did a lot of small town driving in the dark, and never once felt threatened by other traffic, because they recognized me as being there, and gave way when needed.  This helmet should be consider accessory lighting, not the main lighting for the bike.  Other than that, it indeed would add safety to the rider, and to others on the road.  Way too many people today, ride with no lights at all, and its frightening coming up suddenly on one of them in the dark.  

  • Josh KLPA

    I completely agree with you that nobody should be out riding at night without a proper headlamp or taillight. Why do you think those don't already come integrated with all bikes?

  • Josh KLPA

    This is a great first step, but it's going to have to go at least a bit further if they want to keep cyclists safe in urban areas. We are creatures who thrive on pattern-recognition, but designs that inadvertently present the wrong pattern to motorists would have deadly consequences.

    In the final design, it absolutely has to have a very attention-catching flashing pattern to the LEDs equal to or greater than what current bike lights have.
    Otherwise, in its current implementation, the light has the potential to be largely ignored by motorists who will lose it in the visual noise of shop signage and other bright lights that typically appear at or near that height. 

    Honestly, I'm quite disappointed that bikes don't mandatorily have such features already integrated.