About this project
The campaign is over, but you can still get a
FORTIFIED BIKE LIGHT with a lifetime, no-matter-what guarantee.
When a friend had his bike light stolen and was hit by a car...
MIT bike geeks set out on a mission to protect city cyclists. We launched The Defender, the world's first Theft-Resistant Bike Light on Kickstarter in 2012 and have since sold over 5,000 to city cyclists all over the world. Gotham Bicycle is now Fortified Bicycle Alliance.
Now, with your help, we designed Invincible, Anti-Theft Bike Lights with a Lifetime, No-Matter-What Guarantee.
The Aviator Front Light and Afterburner Rear Light will live on your bike in the toughest urban environments 24/365. Made of aluminum, they're MIT-engineered to handle extreme weather, persistent thieves, and tough conditions. Using a proprietary set screw they lock onto your bike. And if anything ever happens to them: damage, theft... if your dog eats it, we'll replace them.
We spoke with over 1,000 of you...
From naming the product, to preliminary sketches, to 3D printing prototypes, you told us what we should build. We built it, and we thank you.
The Aviator and Afterburner are built for life and backed by a Lifetime, No-Matter-What, Warranty.
They lock onto your seat post and handlebars using a proprietary security screw.
Pop out the battery and charge with any USB.
Leave your light on your bike and just pop out the batteries when you need to recharge via USB. Since they're high capacity batteries, you won't have to charge often (for 20 minute/day rides, charge every 3 months). We purposely don't require a tool to take out the batteries, instead there's a "trick" to open them, like a pill bottle. If you know the trick, it's easy. If you're a thief, it's hard to steal a bike light. And even if some twirp steals them, we have a lifetime anti-theft guarantee.
How bright do you need it to be?
You helped us design it, now help us make it a reality.
Our Kickstarter backers from The Defender gave input through the entire design process: from preliminary concepts, to solid models, and finally 3D printed prototypes.
(Oh BTW, we also make these other awesome, theft-resistant bike lights...)
Designed by MIT engineers to handle anything
This isn't our 1st Rodeo. We know Manufacturing. We will deliver (again).
Past: We took our first Kickstarter project, The Defender Bike Light, from concept to mass production. This designing, rapid prototyping, building tooling for volume manufacturing, accelerated lifetime testing, quality control, quality assurance, and fulfillment. We’ve shipped created and shipped 5,000 Defenders and learned a lot along the way.
Present: After over 40 design iterations in Solidworks and over 10 3D-printed prototypes, we’ve honed in on the final designs of the Afterburner and Aviator. We’ve designed the electronics, sourced the custom batteries, and assembled these fully functional prototypes. We have excellent relationships with our original contract manufacturers and vendors from The Defender and will work with them again on this project. Currently we are completing the Design for Manufacturing process including:
- Optical design to get the perfect focus and beam spread
- Electronics design to create multiple blinking modes
- Tolerance Stack Analysis for precise assembly
- Finite Element Analysis to maximize strength of the materials
- Quality Assurance Design to prevent failure modes
Future: Next we will order tooling (molds for aluminum casting). Tooling is the huge up-front expense - over $24,000. Next we will work with our manufacturer to create the first parts off-tool. With these parts, we will perform highly accelerated lifetime testing (HALT) including:
- Temperature cycling
- Drop tests
- Shock and vibration tests
- Power cycling
- Water and humidity testing
After refining the designs to meet the HALT demands, we will begin mass production.
As we said, this isn't our first rodeo. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how we did it it for our first project: Defender Bike Lights.
We are working with our existing manufacturing partners. Because they're awesome.
It takes a small army of manufacturing and logistics professionals to produce aluminum theft-resistant bike lights. Here's an overview.
Manufacturing Liaison: For all of our products we use a manufacturing management company to oversee the production process. They source vendors, get competitive pricing, manage quality control, and handle shipping. They're doing a great job with the Defender and they'll build the Afterburner / Aviator.
Contract Manufacturers: Several CMs are building the Afterburner / Aviator:
- Aluminum Casting Factory: makes the body of the Afterburner / Aviator
- Injection Molding Factory: makes the silicone gaskets for waterproofing
- Electronics Factory: builds and assembles the PCBA that control the lighting functions
- Packaging Factory: builds and assembles the retail cardboard packaging
- Final Assembly Factory: puts it all together on the assembly line
- Many vendors: LED vendors, small hardware vendors, etc.
We're small team of engineers and entrepreneurs...
Who love building and love biking. Slava Menn (right) is an electrical engineer-turned entrepreneur from MIT who leads product development. Tivan (left) is a product developer-turned entrepreneur from UPenn who's first business was singing personalized wakeup calls. The product development team includes Ori Levin, Konstantin Derman, Brian Hack, Satoshi Sakaguchi, Lukas Scheurer, Audrius Košys, Nate Sharpe, and Brad Geswein.
Risks and challenges
Supply Chain Risks
We learned a lot about volume manufacturing in our Kickstarter project. We planned to make 200 of them, and ended up making 5,000. Getting the right Quality Controls takes time but it's crucial. The result: our first Kickstarter product had a lower defect rate than most mature products. To mitigate these risks for the Afterburner and Aviator, we will spend even more time on the factory floor overseeing the entire production process, start to finish.
In the event that we get over 1,000 orders again, we'll be ready for it. We hired a new fulfillment center with automated order fulfillment.
Evil Theft Risks
Thieves will try to steal your light. With our first product, we have a 0.5% theft rate. If they steal your Afterburner/Aviator, we'll replace for free.
A LA CARTE: Can I order multiple items? What if I just want one item that's not a reward? Or I want to add an item to a reward? Can I mix and match?
Note that when you are choosing to add items "a la carte", you will not be able to "choose" them in the rewards page. You will simply enter a dollar amount, and at the END of the funding period, you will receive a survey which asks you to clarify which products you have ordered. We apologize, but this is the only way to complete such an order on Kickstarter.
Add these a la carte items by adding this dollar amount to any pledge.
Performance, Dry-Wick T-Shirt: $24 ($5 off)
Defender, Original Anti-Theft Bike Light: $50
Afterburner Boost: $65
Aviator Boost: $90
ORDER MULTIPLE ITEMS BY DOUBLING THE PLEDGE AMOUNT (Ex. 2 Aviator/Afterburner Combos for $198 instead of $99).
Extra lithium ion rechargeable batteries are $14.50 each. Just add that to your pledge and we'll know what to do.
We purposely don't require a tool to take out the batteries. We surveyed customers and they were afraid of losing a tool, even if it was on their keychain. And since you'll be recharging every 2-12 weeks (depending on use), we had to make it easy to replace.
So instead there's a "trick" to open them, like a pill bottle. If you know the trick, it's easy. If you're a thief, it's hard. And even if some twirp steals them, we have a lifetime anti-theft guarantee.
My seat post is quick release. Or my seat post can be removed with an Allen key. How do I prevent my entire seat post from being stolen?
We sell a seat post security kit (using a security screw) for $10. Different seat post collars / clamps are different sizes.
Step 1: Add $10 to your pledge amount
Step 2: At the end of the campaign, we'll send you instructions on how to get the seat screw size.
Step 3: We'll send you a seat post security kit with instructions on how to install it (should take 5 min).
Yes! All the lights have multiple lighting modes for different scenarios. If you order the BOOST and you're in a situation where you are not trying to light up the whole street, set it to the "Eco mode".
Yes! When the battery needs to be charged, the light will let you know. We are still programming the microcontroller but it will probably do a rapid strobe right when you turn it on to tell you the battery is low. We're not putting a separate power indicator on there because it will make another hole in the body and take away from the water proofing.
For those of you mechanically inclined, yes, we can add gaskets and make a tight seal around a battery indicator light but we chose not to do that because it's a cleaner, easier to assemble, and more water proof design not to add an indicator light. Don't worry, when the battery is getting low, the light will tell you.
Afterburner fits seat post sizes 25.4mm to 31.8mm in diameter. If your seat post is this size, it most-def will fit!
Aviator fits seat post sizes 22mm to 31.8mm in diamter. If your forks/handlebars stems are this size, go for it!
What if I lose my security tool? And will there my multiple security tool designs to prevent someone from using the tool to steal my bike light?
If you lose the tool, we'll send you another one for free (you just pay the shipping).
For the Defender, our first project, we only have 1 security screwdriver. We've had less than a .5% theft rate. For the Aviator/Afterburner, we may have multiple designs of the security tool. We are figuring that out now with our manufacturer. Either way, you have a no-matter what replacement policy.
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