turn signal lights for bikes

dasmo

New Member
Jul 13, 2009
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canada
Hi all,
I am the founder of a small industrial design firm (CODETTA PRODUCT DESIGN) and we are developing our first product we wil be manufacturing and marketing ourselves: a signal light system for bicycles. The inspiration for the project came after building my motorized Bicycle. After riding it for a while I found I needed signal lights (and a brake light) because I was no longer riding around traffic but with it! I also had a throttle to deal with so I needed both hands on the bars! After searching online for signal light products and only finding a UK offering (that made your bike look like a space ship) or an extremely cheap and poorly designed Alibaba product, I decided to build my own lights.

We have been developing the lights over the last year and are testing our first working prototype so I feel confident in the concept.

My question to you Guys is:
1. Have you founding existing signal light products for bicycles?
2. What features would you like to see in such a product?

We are designing these for you so any help is much appreciated!

Best,

Damon

:ride:
 

Tony Meier

New Member
Jan 14, 2010
93
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0
Sun Diego
Keep us posted regarding your progress. I ordered the "Maxxon WIRELESS Bike Brake Light" and have been happy with it; however, the cheap/flimsy $14.00 turn signal/brake light/horn I ordered doesn't work very well.
 

brentemmons

New Member
Mar 28, 2011
101
1
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Danbury N.H
I also purchased the cheep brake light and turn signal set up.The vibration from the motor not only made the LED lights brake off but also turned the tail light switch off and made it useless.The control pannel was hard to use at speed and dangerus.The horn sounds were kind of cool but not neaded just a horn sound would do.A good rugged LED tail light with turn signals would be great but keep in mind these motors vibrate.usflg
 

dasmo

New Member
Jul 13, 2009
20
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canada
Thanks for the feedback! I actually hadn't found the Maxxon one yet. I am not aiming for cheap. I am aiming for well built and well designed so it will be expensive compared to $14 (will be getting some preliminary costing soon) but it will be water proof and rugged. I think shock mounting the PCB might be a good idea...
 

SANGESF

New Member
Feb 23, 2009
641
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Lake Worth
Well... For my system, I bought a "switch clutch" that has lights and directionals controls...
I hooked up "marker" lights and mounted them on my front basket and 4" "truck" amber turn signals (with arrows) and mounted them on my rear battery box. For the rear running/tail light I just hooked up a normal 5" round running/stop light.
I bought a turn signal relay from PepBoys and hooked up the directionals and running lights to the switch clutch and hooked up the stop portion of the run/stop light to an electric brake switch.
I don't know how easy it would be to have ALL of that in one unit...
Would be interested in what your prototype looks like.
 

silverbear

The Boy Who Never Grew Up
Jul 9, 2009
8,191
45
38
northeastern Minnesota
I think it would be good if a sturdy unit was available. I would suggest making two versions, one in six volt for the China girls and one in 12 volt for the 4 strokes. Use LEDs to keep the wattage needs low. Tail light and brake light could use the same unit with two sets of lights and two circuits. The controls being handy and not junk is the other end of things. Good luck to you. What you come up with could end up saving lives...
SB
 

SANGESF

New Member
Feb 23, 2009
641
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Lake Worth
The only real problem I see with an all around solution would be the cost.
It would HAVE to be cost effective for most people to want to use it.

My system (which is NOT for the "mainstream") cost me about $100 BUT I also have the room on my bike to add all of those things separately.
If anyone else was to get all the parts needed to make it as effective as my system, the cost would go into the $200+ range. So, again, cost is the only problem I can see.
 

SANGESF

New Member
Feb 23, 2009
641
0
0
Lake Worth
Keep us posted regarding your progress. I ordered the "Maxxon WIRELESS Bike Brake Light" and have been happy with it; however, the cheap/flimsy $14.00 turn signal/brake light/horn I ordered doesn't work very well.
How well does that unit handle bumps? Does it (momentarily) activate the "brake light" function on any particular sized bumps?
 

dasmo

New Member
Jul 13, 2009
20
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canada
Lol I guess I'm a China girl. Good point on the 12V though. tnx. Cost is a big concert but We are going for a mass produced unit (although in low numbers initially) so I hope it will be premium but somewhere around $129 (or under) We are getting quotes on the prototype design in order to cost it out.
 

SANGESF

New Member
Feb 23, 2009
641
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Lake Worth
Lol I guess I'm a China girl. Good point on the 12V though. tnx. Cost is a big concert but We are going for a mass produced unit (although in low numbers initially) so I hope it will be premium but somewhere around $129 (or under) We are getting quotes on the prototype design in order to cost it out.
How about a sneak peek on what it generally looks like.
 

silverbear

The Boy Who Never Grew Up
Jul 9, 2009
8,191
45
38
northeastern Minnesota
A lot of the forum members will think that is high even if it is good. I wouldn't worry about pleasing them. They are the same people who want the cheapest bike and cheapest motor and then complain about the poor quality. Let them buy the plastic units for $14.00. It might even serve them well enough for their needs. Needs differ. If you are riding with traffic at some speed then staying safe is worth paying for. What does a trip to the emergency room cost or a stay in the hospital? A brake light or turn signal can make a big difference, but you need to know that they actually work. Not sometimes, but all the time and when the traffic is thickest.

When we get our first bike, the expense is the kit. After we ride and make things work better, have purchased a better seat and better rear sprocket setup, maybe some performance items, maybe upgraded to a better bike to put the motor on... stronger wheels and perhaps a shift kit or automatic transmission... suspension fork...we realize that the kit engine or Harbor Freight motor was the inexpensive part and just the starting point. For serious commuting with some traffic to contend with a good and reliable bike is going to cost some dollars. These are the people who will appreciate and be willing to pay for a quality lighting system to go along with the rest of their investment.
There's a good company in Michigan who make quality LED lights in many different voltages. I've used some and they are good units. I think you can find them after some detective work on ebay. They will cost more than some of the Chinese stuff, but quality is excellent, shipping is quick and our dollars stay here. Keeping as many of your suppliers home grown in North America would be a selling point for many of us. No, I'm not bashing the Chinese, but I am happy when I see the US and Canada making things again. Good luck to you in your endeavor.
SB
 

SANGESF

New Member
Feb 23, 2009
641
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0
Lake Worth
The gas bikes portion should prolly be discussed in the non-electric portion of this site.. Anyways, I digress..
IF you're making this unit, what voltages does it run off of? My bike has a 12v accessory battery and a 36v power battery.. Could I use my system with either of those voltages or are you only aiming for the white wire usage of china girl motors?
 

Tony Meier

New Member
Jan 14, 2010
93
0
0
Sun Diego
Hey Damon,

Take a look at these lights, called "Bicygnals." I found them doing a search of this web site; the post was from 2007. Don't know if the company is still around.

Bicygnals | IWOOT

They're very pricy and sorta funky looking but certainly would get you by the CHP!
 

dasmo

New Member
Jul 13, 2009
20
0
0
canada
@Tony, I did check them out in my original search and found I couldn't get them in Canada. After a while I gave up because I wanted to wire it into my system. Plus I have dutch style handle bars so I would need to take my hands off to press the indicator.
@Sangese, We are planning on making it work with the outputs from e-bike controllers. You bring up a good point about the range of voltage outputs! right now the prototype is designed to work with a dynamo and accepts a range of inputs capping at 40V. it looks like there is a wide range of possible inputs from E-bikes since my E-bike light output measures at 48V. some tweaks are necessary here. thanks for that.
@silver bear, no choice but to make it high quality and not cheap. How could I compete with mega mass produced items. I just hope there is a real market for a top quality signal light system.
 
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Ernst

New Member
May 28, 2011
363
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Turlock Ca
First off I tip my hat at the effort and let me toss in my $0.02

I have and am fitting the Bicygnals with a modified Maxxon. I like them.. They have a big turn indicator that is separated by enough space as to look separate where the smaller indicators simply look like a yellow flasher which suggest a turn and is basic to signalling but not at all definitive for the concerned high traffic rider and distance rider like me.
The maxxon when we forget about what the Taiwanese need on their streets and hard wire the LEDs offers that brighter than running light "stop" light. Very important.
Please see the thread Maxxon :: Hack

What I find to be a problem is to have to dedicate my hand and arm to activate any thing.

The Bicygnals expect us to reach right or left of unit to activate and deactivate and that is a bad thing when navigating traffic. Looking at the turn signal unit when I should be watching traffic is an invitation for a crash.
A turn, horn or brake signal needs to be a no brain-er when we need to focus on a traffic situation such as the ever unpopular car that passes us up only to turn right into a drive way where they want to slow down so they don't bump their bumper but cut us off @ 25mph. They need a timely F.U. Air Horn shot as I am squeezing the brakes for all they have.
Using that right hand turn in front of a bicycle (USA) as the prime example the air horn can be heard in a car with the windows rolled up but if I can't get a thumb to it I sure can't spare a hand that is pulling the twin brake cables to hit the horn just two inches away from the thumb. Nor can I afford to let go of the other end of the handle bar in case I have to crash.

So the basic reach in a hurry is a thumb. If you can make the turn signals thumb operated that would be good. Air horn is another plus. Combo air horn, other horn, turn signal, running light and offer visual and sound cues as to when we have a blinker on would be good.
I would skip trying to be a bike light but Bicygnals are a nice light so I can't argue. Wait until you see my front end. I have three lights so I can see what I need to when I need to such as when I must ride a 8-12 shoulder of the road because of traffic. I use a single (bell) bike light pointed down at the road edge. Over kill but I have been too close to running off the pavement and into who knows what at @25 mpg so I need to quickly judge what choices I have and make the wisest choice which may mean taking a fall on the side of the road rather than something worse like hitting a child for example. I feel it's my duty to not hurt anyone especially me.


The second I must fiddle with a switch or make sure something is on or off is time away from safety of riding the bike.

So really we have a clutter on the bar. Gear shifters for us 21 speed people. Brake light unit. turn signal unit, air horn for me and all of that needs to be as simple as possible to access without thinking.
A combo throttle, horn, signal and running lights with kill switch would be helpful. I know we all like to move that hand around some when it falls asleep.

The biggest design goal is simple thumb activation.

Here is the rear assembly I am working on. Bicygnal and Maxxon ( modified ) I don't have a video yet but I think it's the right idea and yes this has run me over $150 to get this far considering all the expenses.
I would have spent that much for a complete kit that looks as nice or nicer than the bicygnals
DSC06522_1024.JPG
I'm a night rider ~ long distance rider so I dig the lights!

I would be willing to pay that $150 or so if I got an all in one that doesn't fall apart with vibration.
I paid that much for my front light and I got the cheaper last year model.

I wish to be taken seriously on the highway. I want the drivers to think of me more as a motorcycle than a bicycle. Let them expect and get a brake light when i brake not just hit a bump and let them clearly see I am turning or changing lanes.

So what will your unit cost and what can it do?

Obviously LEDs are much cheaper than the Maxxon but that lens is killer. I paid a lot but it's bright!

Now to get it all finished so some tweeker can steal them.. Damn fools.

Oh and if anyone has a reset mod for bicygnals I am all for that.. Serious. That battery in battery out crap to sync is not my idea of usage but then offset that with theft and it seems wise.
I drilled a hole in the quick release tab for a small pad lock to discourage theft or so but having to resync the units sucks big time A one button sync system would be ideal. Sounds like hack number two.

Look it's going to be hard to beat what they ( bicygnals and maxxon ) have done but it can be done.
In fact you may be able to manufacture from their components.

I'd say stay away from the G-force idea.
 
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dasmo

New Member
Jul 13, 2009
20
0
0
canada
Great write up Ernst. Thanks. I'll check out the mod thread. I agree, you can't take your hands off the grips to activate! it defeats the purpose!
 

jolfstn

Member
Oct 30, 2011
112
1
18
Seattle, WA
Dasmo: I would be very keen to see your design for turn/brake lights & switch controller. How is it coming along? have any prototypes for sale yet? I ride in Seattle where transplanted CA drivers motivate our roadways like maniacs. When I eventually get creamed by one I would very much like to say I had my signals on. "didn't you see?..."