Los Angeles industrial designer Nathan Wills is an avid cyclist, but he has a gripe about most traditional bike lights – in order for them to really be noticed at night, they have to be seen head-on. He decided to create head and tail lights that were highly visible from the sides as well. While he was at it, he also positioned them higher than regular bike-mounted lights, and made them much more difficult to steal. The result is his prototype Torch T1 – a bike helmet with built-in luminous panels.

The T1 features white LED bulbs in the front and red ones in the back, which are covered by plastic lenses. These lenses help to more evenly disperse the bulbs’ light, so it can be seen from a wider viewing angle – they also serve to protect the lights from water and road debris.

Power is provided by two rechargeable CR2 batteries, which should provide over five hours of run time in non-flashing mode. If one of the several flashing modes is used, they should last considerably longer.

The planned production version of the T1 will have an expanded polystyrene body, covered by a thin polycarbonate shell. It will come in two sizes and three colors, with a dial adjuster to customize the fit for each user. The prototype weighs 13 ounces (368.5 grams), which should be about the weight of the commercial model.

Wills and a business partner are presently raising production funds for the T1 on Kickstarter. A pledge of at least US$80 will get you one, if the funding goal is met and production commences.

The prototype can be seen in use in the pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter via Bicycle Design

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    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



    • why nobody thinks so such easy solution before? Perfect design, ingenious product.

      Sam Sim
    • Great idea, but with such small air vents, that is going to be one hot helmet.

    • Still Snell and Ansi Certified?

      Jeff Bequette
    • I would think that making the lamps some kind of attachment for an existing helmet would decrease costs as well making a broader user base.

      Michael Crumpton
    • Hi Michaelc,

      great comment. We looked into doing this, the problem is that to get the largest lit surface from each LED, they are placed 1" away from the lens. This allows the light to spread out a bit before hitting the lens. Because of this we aren't able to make an add on part that would still sit flush with the helmet surface.

      Maybe as new materials are developed we will eventually find a way to do this.


      Nathan Wills - Torch

      Nathan Wills
    • I don't like the polkadot look. I know your trying to get as much light from your LED as possible but sometimes you have to give some up for a cooler look. Technically this is a good idea to put the light higher, good luck.

      The Hoff
    • Hoff,

      thanks for the comments. The production model will use lenses that diffuse the light much better than our prototype. Unfortunately we were unable to use that plastic for our prototype, but it should be much more even in the real product.

      Nathan Wills

      Nathan Wills

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