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Crowdfunding: Seattle-based bike lights pass $100K, Redmond-based commuter bike passes $30K

Promo image from Orfos. I'm a sucker for awesome Seattle bike footage.
Promo image from Orfos. I’m a sucker for awesome Seattle bike footage.
Seattle area bike product Kickstarters are seriously kicking ass this month.

The Seattle-based Orfos Flares bike lights demolished their $20,000 goal, passing $100,000 recently with seven days still to go (ends November 18).

The lights are a novel take on designing bike lights in a couple ways. For one, they are completely waterproof (their video shows someone scuba diving with the light attached to the tank). They also attach using a strong magnet, avoiding the stupid plastic clip problem (though hopefully they can stay attached after nailing one of Seattle’s many wicked potholes).

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But the biggest design departure is the way they diffuse light in all directions. Instead of focusing a beam forward, they glow on all sides. The idea was to make lights clearly visible from all angles.

They cost $119 each or $229 for a set through the Kickstarter. Clearly, fulfilling all the Kickstarter orders is going to take up a lot of the Orfos focus at first, but after that they’ll be looking to stock interested Seattle shops, according to Peter Clyde:

Our current focus for our business plan is obviously the Kickstarter project, and want to make sure we can deliver these lights as quickly, and efficiently as possible. When the Kickstarter funding concludes, we plan to open up our online store (www.orfos.bike) for preorders. We will ship these after the Kickstarter orders are completed.

Currently, we are collecting contact information from stores who want to sell our lights, with our primary emphasis on local Seattle area bike shops. The lights were born and bred in Seattle, and we want to honor that.

Check out the video, which includes some great Seattle biking shots:

Rogue C6

Redmond-based Rogue Bicycles and designer David Lupafya have passed the $30,000 mark of its $50,000 goal to start producing a lightweight, belt-drive hybrid commuter bike with built-in lights and GPS.

The aluminum version is $950 and the carbon fiber version is $1,950 via the Kickstarter campaign.

Check out the video:

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28 responses to “Crowdfunding: Seattle-based bike lights pass $100K, Redmond-based commuter bike passes $30K”

  1. Those lights look pretty legit! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Allan

    It is really expensive to manufacture new stuff. You need all new parts, and consistency. That is why I cannot build things for other people. I can only do it for myself. I use once in a lifetime bargains and than wonder why other people spend so much. I am always looking for a deal and they are hard to find. Once I got bicycle pedals for $1 so I bought about 20 pairs, really nice new rims for $4 so I bought all 35 of them, spokes for 10 cents so I bought around 12 to 15 hundred. I have bought a lot of one off bargains on hubs of high or ordinary quality. I buy enough frames and sell some so that mine are than free. A few years ago I bought 50 rolls of carbon handlebar tape for $1. a roll. I reconfigure batteries from laptops and power drills to run my lights. I mix and match drive train parts until they work.(trial and error) So I really should not critisize because most people don’t want to do things my way, they just want to buy something that works, and don’t want to do their own R&D to get there. However, there is a lot of satisfaction when you end up with something that is better than what anyone else can get and it only cost doo doo squat. Maybe someday I will decide to crowd fund an idea.

  3. Gary

    One word of warning about the lights, the front white light will not fit on the headtube if you have cantilever brakes due to the lack of clearance from the cable.

    I did join the masses and have a tail light on order. Just looked cool enough to get and I like the long life of the battery/lights. Should be better than my dinottelighting.com tail light which I’ll pass along to one of my kids.

  4. ChefJoe

    Made in WA state and still had a rapid flash mode on the front white light…. and even demos the illegal usage of said flashing white light at 1:20 in the video. The red taillights can flash on the public roadways, no other.

    (3) Flashing lights are prohibited except as required in RCW 46.37.190, 46.37.200, 46.37.210, 46.37.215, and 46.37.300, warning lamps authorized by the state patrol, and light-emitting diode flashing taillights on bicycles.

    1. Gary

      ChefJoe: The Seattle Police wouldn’t come for a auto breakin, with the guy sitting next to the van with his stuff in it. They aren’t going to enforce the flashing white light rule unless they want to search your bike for drugs and cash and need an excuse.

      I ride right by officers in their cars, on their bikes, walking the beat, a bicycle with a flashing white light is not a priority. And if it becomes one, I’ll get a referendum going to modernize the rules.

      1. ChefJoe

        Good man, I hope drivers wise up and tell the cops they were dazzled by illegally flashing bike lights when it gets dark at 5 pm. Vulnerable users making themselves more vulnerable to blinded drivers.

      2. Cheif

        Right? If I were one of the automobile operators who can’t manage to keep from running over people on bike I would definitely use “I was blinded by a strobe light the person I just killed was pointing at me” as an excuse. And everyone who operates a car regularly would agree, since they don’t want to get in trouble either.

      3. ChefJoe

        They’re blinding and bright enough that the UK is investigating them. You know, the place you want all US roads to emulate ?


      4. Gary

        If I understand this correctly, a 60W incadesent blub is about 850 Lumins. http://www.compuphase.com/electronics/candela_lumen.htm so my headlights are about equilent at high to 1200 lumins and or two 60 watt bulbs, and at low power, 300Lumins or a 25Watt bulb..

        Your angst about blinding light is an overreaction.

      5. Josh

        Headlights have strictly-regulated beam patterns because they caused so many accidents when they weren’t regulated.

        At the time, they were yellowish incandescents with far less power than today’s headlights, but they were still recognized as a serious hazard to night driving.

        Even so, automotive headlight glare continues to routinely cause accidents, and remains one of the most active traffic safety dockets at NHTSA.

        Affordable bicycle headlights only recently reached output parity with car headlights, and the law still assumes you’re running a 2.4W incandescent bulb.

  5. Mike

    the idea for the lights is great, but they are really too bright. At that level, they make visibility worse for everyone but the rider.

    1. Allan

      Mike, I don’t believe you. If it does not exceed a motorcycle light, it is not to bright. I never saw a light that could not be dimmed a bit for politeness on the trails.

    2. Gary

      This light with a non focused beam is going to be way better for trail use. It’s when they focus all zillion lumins in one spot.. your eyes, that it’s a problem.

  6. PeteClyde

    Hey guys, as the creator, I wanted to point out a few things. Also, if you would like to contact me with specific questions, feel free to email me at [email protected]

    ChefJoe, you are right about the fact that some states have laws against flashing front lights. Some states say even tail lights can’t flash. Others say that they HAVE to flash. The lights are designed for a global market, and to allow for both versatility/preference, as well as legal options. We wanted to give people the freedom to choose between the 4 modes. Cycling laws are outdated almost everywhere. It is unclear if there will ever be agreement between states / countries. The truth of the matter is that the majority of cyclists use a flashing lamp during the day and a solid lamp at night (even in Washington).

    Mike, on an unlit street at night, HIGH mode is too bright, I agree. This is why there are both medium and low options as well that also extend battery life. One of the main design points on this light was for the lights to be highly intense, but not blinding. They match the intensity of car tail lights and the secondary front daytime running LED lights that are present on almost all new cars. Depending on how much ambient light you are in for the time of day or number of street lights, you can choose your brightness level. Regarding your comment on making visibility worse for everyone, I respectfully disagree because this was the main design point of these lights. They are about BEING SEEN, not seeing. And they are NOT focused into a tight beam like many of the competing products on the market. A focused beam blinds those that get caught in it, but then is not visible for those that are outside of it.

    Cars are bright, but not blinding, and all modern cars have wrap around optics to increase the visibility of the car from the side. Bikes have never had this until now. Automotive LED lighting and optics are becoming extremely sophisticated. Bike lights on the other hand are stuck copying the first LED products that came out with tight focused beams. LEDs originally didn’t have the option of being diffused since they weren’t efficient enough to be bright with a wide beam. It is time for bicycle illumination to catch up with the modern technology of automotive lighting. That was the goal of these lights.

    1. Allan

      Two Ideas for the future. One would be an optional dimmer switch for oncomming vehicles, something quick and easy to dim and come up back to bright lights again. My lights all require me to scroll through the different modes to get to a certain level. The second idea, I have already implemented, although it is also available on Ebay for some lights. People usually buy the crappy $12 to $16 battery packs but there are people who make really strong custom battery packs. I just built one with 8 Lithium Ion 18650 batteries in it. Unlike the el cheapo packs I used really good Japanese batteries. The plan is to run 1000 lumens from dust till dawn if I want to, with bursts of more light when I need it. My new battery pack weighs over a pound but I will take the trade off. I almost never see bicycle lights for sale with extra batteries. I have smaller lights where I can carry a handful of 40 gram batteries if I want to. Bike shop lights never seem to have these options. My next project may be a water bottle with up to 12 or 16 Li I batteries in it. I think that my 8 cell is better than anything you can buy anywhere at any price.

  7. I’m not really sure why you would want a non-focused light beam. My Busch Muller headlight is far and away the best headlight I have ever used precisely because it does have a focused beam. It throws a nice patch of light on the road ahead of you, but not up and directly into the eyes of oncoming traffic. Its not rocket science; the ideal optics are about like a car headlight.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Different strokes.

      I thought Pete explained his design concept pretty well. And judging by the response, there are a lot of folks who are interested in it.

    2. Allan

      And if you were me you would want both focused and difuse. Why just have one type of light, I don’t get it.

      1. Jay

        The Busch & Müller lights (headlamp and tail lights) have pretty good side visibility and the somewhat higher price headlamps have specific “daytime running lights” If coupled to a dynamo one doesn’t have to worry about charging batteries ever. However, adding hub dynamo lights to an existing bicycle (replacing a wheel) will cost more than $229.
        I do have a Serfas “Thunderbolt” front light and PBSF in my backpack just incase of a problem with the dynamo lights .
        I think the Serfas is rather a lot like the light being discussed here, though with rubber straps instead of magnets to hold it on the bike. The magnets are probably a great idea (as long as one doesn’t stick the light in the same pocket as one’s credit card). While the Serfas straps are easy for a thief to remove, they are enough of a hassle that one might be tempted to leave the light on ones bike for “just a minute”, which is all a thief needs!

        An Idea for Pete, How about a Bluetooth connection? a lot of people have handlebar mounts for their phones, I can imagine an “App” that could sound an alarm if one moves out of range, reducing the likelihood of leaving the lights unattended (plus of course the opportunity of further emulating modern cars in the onboard distraction department :-) But seriously, there is information/functions , battery level, actual operational mode, dimming, etc. that would be useful. Before I had dynamo lights I used the Serfas Thunderbolt as my main “be seen” light, one overcast day I turned it on to (I thought) low flash mode, which has a long battery life, for visibility, later however, when the sun went down (and I wanted to switch to low/steady) I had no light! WTF! it seems I actually had it on high flash which was not so very obvious in daylight but had a much shorter battery endurance if my phone had shown the battery level dropping like a rock I would have known!
        Also regarding the Serfas Thunderbolt (again somewhat similar to the lights under discussion), while I don’t have a red one, I have seen one operating in high flash mode and it wasextremely obnoxious.

  8. Virchow

    Looks awesome to me! I currently have 4 lights: front, rear and 2 wheel lights for side visibility. It’d be nice to get the job done with two and be local sourced.

    1. Gary

      4 lights, with 4 batteries gives you redunency for winter rain commutes when you positivitily must be seen to stay alive.

  9. pqbuffington

    Oh man, a lite debate…Fredtastic!

    So, the only problem I have (just one?) with the Orfos-Flares light configuration is that one can see (if I understand the promo correctly) both the white and red lights from all angles – as opposed to something like 180 degree spread for both front and rear. This ‘cause it can be important for other riders and motorists to ascertain your direction of travel by your light configuration.

    If there is one thing (only one?) I do not countenance it is when fools put the white light on the back and the red on the front; do not do it!

    But anyways, the lights look like a pretty solid design and good value.

    Me, I prefer more of beam on the front as dark routes, e.g. many sections of the I-90 path, require such as to avoid the flotsam and jetsam that quite un-magically appear at night…that is if you want to make any sort of time after the sun goes down.

    And sometimes it is better not to be seen so dramatically. That is to say, I definitely do not advocate no lights, but standing out too brightly all too often invites the 4,000-lbs-moth to the flame, so to speak.

    1. Josh

      If the red light actually is visible forward of 180 degrees, it’s illegal to use on Washington streets. But the photos don’t look like it’s really throwing light forward, just making a red semicircle in the rear that meets the white semicircle on the front.

      Many European bike lights already do basically the same, with intentional side-spill from both the headlight and the tail light to make the bike more visible from the side.

      Again, a diffuse beam is about being seen, not about seeing where you’re going.

      While a white flasher is clearly illegal in Washington, a diffuse flash is much less hazardous than a focused one — the light intensity tapers off quickly, and no part of the beam is as intense as a headlight beam. Look at the difference between a car turn signal and a headlight.

      Personally, I’d prefer to see white to the front, amber to the sides, red to the rear. Unlike white flashers or a single amber flasher, a pair of synchronized amber hazard lights is legal. More importantly, amber has a standard meaning, so drivers recognize it as a side clearance light at a great distance. Sticking to standard lighting colors and meanings makes it much easier for drivers to quickly identify where you are and which way you’re heading.

      1. Gary

        Two stripes of translucent amber plastic tap on the sides of these lights would give you the amber effect you desire.

  10. Kirk

    I would prefer to have this front light not white, but amber, so that it can legally flash and still be highly visible, especially as a side marker. Leave the white light for the focused beam.

    1. Jay

      I imagine you are referring to RCW 46.37.215 ?
      “(1) Any vehicle may be equipped with lamps for the purpose of warning other operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.”

      I’m not sure the terms “hazard” and “unusual care” are what we want describing bicycles, (if they are a hazard, shouldn’t only be allowed in specific instances (if at all)? if “unusual care” is needed, then hitting a bicyclist is not evidence of lack of “usual care”, well, that last one is the case in the US). But until drivers learn to behave, I suppose “hazard” and “unusual care” do tend to apply.

      If one allows that RCW 46.37.215 applies, all you have to do is ride a bike made before 1969!
      ” PROVIDED, That on any vehicle manufactured prior to January 1, 1969, the lamps showing to the front may display simultaneously flashing white or amber lights, or any shade of color between white and amber. ”
      I imagine some would argue the lamps need to have been installed before 1969 too, but I’m not sure the code actually says that, though it does say:
      “lamps” (plural) and “as widely spaced laterally as practicable”
      So, I’d guess that somewhat limits applicability to bicycles anyway.

  11. Doug Bostrom

    buffington: Oh man, a lite debate…Fredtastic!

    Dang, I thought that was going to be my line.

    Bravo on waterproof. Blows my mind how many lights are not so despite claims to the contrary. Some commuters (my SO) can’t stand disassembling the bike after arriving for work so we have the lights effectively grafted to the bike so as require destruction before removal without several tools. Trouble is, many “waterproof” lights can’t handle sitting in Seattle rain day after day for months. Most embarrassing and expensive failure: Stella Dual (made by dive light manufacturer) setup that quickly failed completely after LED drivers became submerged inside the “waterproof” lamp housings. Now using extremely cheap and tacky “Fandyfire” ebay special with better maximum brightness* than “Stella Dual Sponge” and successful water resistance.

    *Heavy corrective prescription plus B-G past U-Village means lights need to be fairly bright.

  12. […] Light and Motion Urban 800 commuter light The Urban 800 provides a relatively narrow but very bright beam, designed primarily for use on the […]

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