Creativity and necessity inspire ingenuity and innovation.
For years, many bicyclists have used dynamo self-powered LED lighting systems, but the technology could definitely use an upgrade. Many dynamo devices create noticeable drag on the bicycle wheels, are too heavy, and contribute to the wear and tear of tires. Cyclists have started to turn away from dynamo LEDs, opting for an unimpeded ride over the safety of a well-lit bicycle. Now, though, it’s becoming possible to have both.
The Xbat Changes Everything
Taiwanese company Sr. Eco (short for Sunrising Eco-Friendly Technology) has released their Xbat line of LED bike lighting, a name intended to emphasize that the product “eXcludes batteries.” The Xbat is self-powered like the dynamo devices, but doesn’t rely on friction to generate its energy; it instead uses dynamic induction to power its LEDs. Dynamic induction begins with pairs of magnets that have been attached to the bike’s tires. As the tires spin, the magnets pass by each other, generating energy with help from the conductive rim of the bicycle wheel. The energy triggers the hub generator (see below), which then uses the energy to power the LED lighting.
Silent, Lightweight Safety
The Xbat “hub” is the light itself, mounted with a lightweight generator and weighing only sixteen grams. While traditional self-powered LEDs can flicker or dim as the bicycle slows or stops, some Xbat models have a built-in capacitor that keeps the lights on for up to three minutes after the wheels stop spinning. This is a fantastic safety- and security feature that gives all the perks of wireless, battery-operated LED systems without requiring riders to change batteries. The dynamic induction technology has acute sensitivity, initiating the light almost immediately after the wheels begin to spin. It operates silently (another huge perk) and combines human power, environmental friendliness, and the perks of never having to switch off a light.
The Future of LEDs
The Revolights prototype, funded in part by a pair of Kickstarter campaigns and an equity investment on ABC’s Shark Tank, is perhaps the next generation of LED safety for cyclists. It is a lightweight, friction-free system offering 360° lighting. With safety as its goal, the Revolights prototype increases bike visibility from the side with LED light strips attached to the rims of the wheels. The Revolights LED system is a legal headlight that illuminates paths and signs. It also has a brake light that automatically brightens and dims as the bike changes speed. One of the most fascinating aspects of this invention is that the fork-mounted magnet and the accelerometer provide data to the LEDs so that they illuminate only when oriented at the front or rear of the bicycle. This means that, instead of two large and constantly glowing circles, there is a clear front-and-back lighting system.
This system is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but a prototype for self-powered LED bike lights may be just around the corner.
Whether you’re behind the wheel or riding a pair of wheels, increasing visibility benefits everyone on the road. We are a fan of any prototype that promises to keep everyone safer. Are you? Tell us what this bike light could mean for you!