Battery-free LED bike lights offer pedal-powered illumination
Reelight's NEO bike lights promise an easy-to-mount friction-free generator for a virtually endless energy source.
Bike lighting, whether it's just a front headlight to see where you're going, or whether it includes a taillight (or even turn signals) for added safety, can make a world of difference in the quality of your ride after dark, and can help everyone from bike commuters to casual cyclists to minimize their risk of being hit due to visibility. And speaking as someone who's gone through a number of different bike lights over the years, one of the biggest pain points for these lights, other than the possibility of theft, is their dependence on batteries, which often go flat at the most inoppportune moments.
Without a replacement set of batteries in hand, the most powerful or effective bike light on the planet is about as much use as a brick when it comes to illumination, and while bike-mounted generators can be one method of keeping the lights on after hours, the typical old-school dynamo generators leave a lot to be desired, both in terms of their weight, their added friction on the tire or rim, and the large mounting bracket necessary to install them.
But there's a new generation of inductive bike lighting coming of age right now, which uses the naturally-generated eddy currents from the spinning wheel of the bike to produce enough electricity to drive bright (and energy-efficient) LED bulbs, and which promises to set cyclists free from the dreaded dead battery blues.
Reelight, the Danish bike lighting innovator that has previously won a Red Dot Design award and several Eurobike Awards for its products, is launching another unique LED bike head- and taillight that is powered by eddy currents generated by a spinning bicycle wheel, with its new NEO prototype promising to be the "world's most powerful friction-free bikelight."
The NEO features an easy-to-mount and lockable design that can fit on nearly any standard bike (may not fit on mountain bikes with a fork tube diameter of more than 45mm), and functions automatically as long as the wheels are spinning. One of the weak points in previous generations of bike-powered lights has been the lack of energy produced when stopped (at a traffic light, for example), which meant that the bike lights would go dark until you started pedaling again. But in addition to the main two 1W LED lights on each unit, the NEO also features a low-power 'backup' light ("an auxiliary system with a backup circuit") that keeps the bike illuminated even while stopped.
According to a 4000-participant study undertaken by the company, the company claims that its induction lights reduce the probability of accidents by up to 35%, and that 85% of its induction light users "have also expressed to have felt safer whilst riding in traffic."
The NEO is currently in the middle of a successful crowdfunding campaign, and backers can reserve one or more of these lollipop-shaped LED bike lights for a pledge of as little as $30. The NEO is expected to be delivered sometime next month (December 2015).