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StemLite combines a handlebar stem and bike light in one device


February 28, 2013

The StemLite is a bicycle handlebar stem with a built-in 500-lumen headlight

The StemLite is a bicycle handlebar stem with a built-in 500-lumen headlight

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Imagine if new cars didn’t come with their own headlights, and buyers were expected to supply their own. It would be kind of silly, right? Well, that’s what the situation is with most commuting bicycles. While a few bikes have built-in lights, consumers are generally expected to purchase one separately, then attach it to the bike. Of course many people simply don’t bother, while others buy a light but then get caught in the dark without it. That’s why California-based cyclists Nick Sweeney and James Voshell have created the StemLite.

As its name suggests, the StemLite is a handlebar stem with a built-in light. That means the light will always be there, ready to go whenever needed, and thieves won’t be able to make off with it when the bike is left unattended – unless they want to go to the trouble of removing the entire stem. Additionally, no external battery pack or connecting cables are required.

The aluminum stem itself is 100 mm long with a 10-degree rise, and has a 31.8-mm handlebar clamp (although it comes with clamp inserts to accommodate narrower bars).

Light is provided by an array of ten Nichia LEDs, that put out a combined 500 lumens on High mode. There’s also a 300-lumen Low mode, and a Flashing mode. Users power the light up and select modes via two water-resistant switches on the top of the stem.

At a distance of ten feet (three meters) on High, the LEDs illuminate an area measuring eight feet wide by six feet tall (2.4 x 1.8 meters). The angle of the lighting array can be adjusted up or down by up to 10 degrees, to allow for different bikes and user preferences.

Power comes from three AA batteries – the battery compartment is accessed through an Allen bolt-secured hatch on the bottom of the stem. If lithium-ion batteries are used, riders can expect a claimed run time of 12 hours (!) per charge when in High mode. Up to 21 hours are possible on Low, and over 50 can be managed in Flashing mode. Alkaline batteries can also be used, although their performance won’t be as good.

The whole unit reportedly weighs 420 grams. By way of comparison, a fairly typical rough n’ ready conventional stem, the RaceFace Ride XC, tips the scales at about 175 grams – but it doesn't have a built-in light.

While Sweeney and Voshell are planning to sell the StemLite as an aftermarket accessory, they’re also hoping that some bicycle manufacturers will start including it on bikes as original equipment. It’s an intriguing idea, although it might complicate matters for riders who find their new bike’s stem to be the wrong size – hopefully there are plans for models in other lengths and rises.

The two entrepreneurs are currently raising productions funds for their product, on Kickstarter. A pledge of of US$60 will get you a StemLite of your own, when and if they’re ready to go – the projected retail price is $70. The current model is intended more for mountain bikes and commuters, with a sleeker, lighter model in the works for road bikes.

While not built right into an existing component of the bike, other “always-attached” lights include the Blink/Steady, the Defender, and the Sparse.

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 good idea, I would be inclined to support it if side strobes were added for safety. This concept could also be incorporated in the seat pole as well, for a rear tail light with side strobes.

Terry Penrose

Then there are those people who buy this just because it was OEM equipment, and never ride in the dark. And Forget to charge it....

Se there is no way to protect stupid people from themselves....

What if they get sick of the design, is there a round version??

Oh just remembered... Does the author thing seeing something 3 metres in front is kind of useful, well it is if you are going as slow as you would without a light at night.... 3m, only allows 1 second warning at ~10km/hr, that is very slow, looks as if this light needs a bit more punch on what they call "High".

This piece of equipment only has anti theft and crash resistance to it... (Likely cost will put it out of the running, its Just a 10 LED white light, and is there a red light on the back (as required by law))

A quick detachable light, is easy to mount a light under the bar for crash resistance, and a non-"built in" battery is much easier to change, and (steal) recharge.... or Just use a helmet light, (front and rear, once you have ridden with one you will never go back to a fixed front light (except as an extra) ) (Hyperbole included)

I love this Product, its just not for me.


500 lumens is impressive for a light this size. Period. I have a four stage light the size of a short bud lite beer that punches out 2000 lumens on high, yeah hand held, 8 CR123A batteries, brighter than a car HID headlight for dogwalking, NO ONE comes close to JJ and I whilst out for a walk.

Bill Bennett

Its nothing new. Cannondale produced the "Headsite" in 2007, which was a whole lot better looking.

light integrated into the stem faceplate is a great idea, but why bother with batteries? These lights will surely sell best in the commuter market, so why not use dynamo hubs to power them?


I'd immediately support it/buy one, if it only was not as ugly. It is sure not road legal in my country, because it provides no visibility from the sides, though I wouldn't bother, as long as it works, is hassle free and somewhat theft proof. It would go nicely with my saddle stem integrated rear lights.

A dynamo connector option would be nice.

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