Aviator and Afterburner bike lights are literally guaranteed to thwart thieves


September 12, 2013

The Afterburner tail light puts out 30 lumens, or 60 if you get the Boost version

The Afterburner tail light puts out 30 lumens, or 60 if you get the Boost version

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Life would certainly be simpler for bicycle commuters if they could just leave their lights on their bikes all the time, but – in most cases – doing so could likely result in the lights being stolen while the bike was parked on the street. MIT grad Slava Menn addressed this problem last year, by helping to create the revolver-like Defender theft-resistant headlight. Now, he's working on a similarly street-proof headlight and tail light, that are sleeker than the Defender but just as hard to steal – or wreck.

The new headlight is known as the Aviator, while the tail light is called the Afterburner. Both lights feature water- and shockproof aluminum construction, and mount on the handlebar or seat post using a custom security screw and corresponding Allen key – this means that a thief won't be able to loosen that screw, unless they themselves also own one of the lights.

The lights are each powered by a proprietary lithium-ion battery, that can be recharged via a USB cable. One charge should be good for 40 hours of use with the Aviator, or 200 hours with the less-intense Afterburner.

Speaking of which, the stock models of the head and tail light put out 150 and 30 lumens, respectively. Plans call for more powerful Boost versions of each, however, that will put out 300 lumens (Aviator Boost) and 60 lumens (Afterburner Boost).

The weight of each of the lights, either model or either version, is 128 grams (4.5 oz).

Menn and his business partner Tivan Amour are apparently pretty confident of the theft-, water- and generally world-proofness of their lights, as they claim that their company (Fortified Bicycle Alliance) will replace any Aviator or Afterburner that is stolen or stops working, for as long as the buyer owns it.

Before you can destroy your light or get it stolen, however, you first have to buy it. To that end, Slava and Tivan are currently raising production funds on Kickstarter. Assuming the funding goal is met, a pledge of US$45 will get you an Afterburner, with $60 for an Afterburner Boost, $65 for an Aviator, or $90 for an Aviator Boost. Sets of both are also available, for higher pledge amounts.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

a thief won't be able to loosen that screw, unless they themselves also own one of the lights.

So basically a thief just needs to buy one of these lights, then they can easily go round stealing every other one they come across? Sounds like a comparatively cheap set of tools to me.

Henry Ashley-Cooper

I can't say I've ever had a light stolen. Seats? Yes. Rims? Yes. Whole bikes? No, but close.

Zaron Gibson

Most of my local bike thieves have hacksaws, and they love to steal just for fun. Also - the price?

I have a different solution: I just got a back and front light for €1 each in the euro shop down the road.


This product is only secure if the handlebars and the seatpost are also theftproof. Many seatposts are 'quick release', and those that aren't, can easily be removed with a spanner or a standard allen key. Ditto the handlebars.


Hey guys,

Thanks for all the feedback. Over the last year we have learned everything there is to know about bike light theft. As it turns out, since there is a very small market for stolen bike lights, the average bike light thief is more of an opportunist than a hardened criminal - more drunk college kids than dr. evils. This means that we can virtually eliminate theft by simply making it very hard to steal. The theft rate on our Defender is less than 1%, which is a tinier number than most things, period. This is why we can offer the forever promise, anti-theft guarantee.

Tivan Amour

The company Fortified seems to have some good tech in terms of the duration for which their lights are guaranteed. Less impressive, however, is their guarantee for theft and claim that their products are theft-resistant. Okay, they might have some non-standard key making it difficult to remove the light directly, but for the rear-facing light which is supposed to be attached to the seat tube, the theft of the light seems a distant second to the much bigger problem of having the seat stolen when someone just snaps open the quick release. I'm guessing that Fortified isn't going to replace your seat and seat tube when someone snags all three in a nice little package. I ride a mountain bike and change the seat height frequently during rides (sometimes need to lean behind the seat then raise it again for standard pedaling), so there will always be a quick release for my seat. If I toss one of those lights on the same tube, it will just ripen the deal for a prospective thief. Fortified draws glowing attention to the situation and then only proposes to replace the cheapest part of the equation, their little light.

Erik Wilson

and do you have some remedy to prevent that the whole bike get stolen?

Alex Pummer

Erik - we have a security seat post upgrade, too! Check it out on the main kickstarter page.

Tivan Amour
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