It’s a busy Friday night in a college town.
You see a man setting up a strange blinking apparatus right next to the train station–just as the Amtrak is loading and unloading passengers.
The man quickly walks away.
What do you do?
I got some funny looks from a few bar hoppers as I walked briskly away from these three helmets. I started mentally rehearsing what I would say to the armed agents who would be subduing me on the pavement any minute.
I was comparing the Fire Eye helmet light to two other lights, trying to see how they could compete against each other, as well as compete for attention with all the other lights in an urban environment.
I’d already tested it in pitch darkness. That didn’t prove anything.
Any bike light can catch an eye when there are no distractions around.
The Fire Eye is very bright. No doubt about it. It held it’s own against the Superflash from Planet Bike, which is our gold standard for crazy, blinking, seizure-inducing rear lights. But the Superflash is not intended to be a helmet light. (Although it can be rigged up on a helmet with Velcro, duct tape, or chewing gum–and we do.)
There’s a prototype feel to Fire Eye; in the slightly clunky design of the controller; in how it is controlled (see video); and in how it is installed. Erik from Illuminated Cycling wrote me that he is working on Fire Eye 2.0 with a different controller and actuator design. (I think “actuator” is Inventor Talk for “button.”)
He says he is also working on Fire Eye front lights. I imagine Erik assembling these in his garage–which makes me love the product even more.
However, I would not recommend these to anyone who can’t lace their own shoes or can’t assemble Ikea furniture.
It took me less time to rig the aforementioned Superflash to a helmet for the test than it did for me to properly install the Fire Eye.
The product comes with enough Velcro pieces to leave no helmet behind.
The installation instructions are downloaded from the Illuminated Cycling Web site, and include contingencies for several common helmet designs. Nonetheless, I found it took a little common sense and creativity to make it work.
I’d like to see Fire Eye lights come integrated with helmets–like the feeble rear light on my Lazer helmet, only not feeble. But Erik didn’t seem interested.
As a cyclist I want as much flexibility in my equipment as possible, and I think integrating this system into one line of helmets limits the options a consumer has. I know I speak for myself but I want the helmet that fits ME best and is most comfortable for ME. That’s how a helmet should be selected, and after it’s selected a consumer can add my lights if they wish. I think integrating lighting into a helmet might push consumers toward a helmet that’s just not “perfect” for them but they select it more based upon the lights then on the helmet.
But Erik could make a ton of money licensing this to Bell, Nutcase, or one of the other helmet giants. Don’t you think?
Unless… he’s biding his time until he can sell out to the aliens.
Fire Eye helmet lights are available from Illuminated Cycling for $ 34.95, shipping included.
My previous goofing off with Fire Eye lights can be seen here: Jawa Costume from Bike Accessories