If you ride a bike at night, it goes without saying that lights are a good idea. But cyclists don’t have to stop there: A new bike design now seeking funding on Kickstarter uses a special reflective coating to make the entire frame glow at night.
The Lumen frame isn’t intended to replace lights, just add some extra protection. "The Lumen’s coating is integrated directly into the bike," says Kai McMurtry, marketing specialist for Mission Bicycle Company, the small San Francisco-based bike manufacturer that designed the frame. "You never have to turn it on, you never have to charge it up. It can’t be stolen off the bike and you can’t forget it at home. All of these impediments are real problems with lights."
The coating, which glows bright white under the headlights of an approaching car, is also beautiful. From the side, it looks like an illuminated line drawing of a bike—the kind of thing that turns heads. "City cyclists are passionate about their bikes," McMurtry says. "Yes, a bike is a tool, but a very meaningful and personal one. In additional to the functional benefits, the coating is also aesthetically appealing."
In the past, if you wanted your bike to reflect car lights, you’d have to add stickers or tape meant for flat surfaces—not so useful on the curves of a frame. Tape also tends to peel away over time as the bike is exposed to sunlight and rain or snow. The coating on the Lumen bike, by contrast, is added like paint, so it can cover the entire frame and both rims.
The coating—a 'malleable retro-reflective material,' made by Halo Coatings—wasn't available until now. Mission Bicycle says that one reason it may not have been developed before is that city commuters tend to be an overlooked segment of the bike market.
"While attention and services are growing for commuters, the R&D for city biking concerns is way behind the established industry segments like road and mountain," McMurtry says.
After the Kickstarter campaign, the company will continue offering the coating as an option on any of their bikes, which are all custom made in their San Francisco shop.