Bike lights are equal parts essential and infuriating. Toss them in your bag after locking up, and they’re likely to turn on and flash for hours, running down to zero before you reach for them again. Leave them on once you’ve parked, and a sticky-fingered stranger will gladly relieve you of their service. Forget to charge them, and they’re dead when you most need them. Bike design continues to evolve–tremendously, impressively, with a passion for new materials and aerodynamic and invention almost like none other. But apart from a few small recent introductions, bike lighting design is still pretty much in the dark ages.
It makes sense then that Dutch product designer Hugo van de Watering’s aha moment occurred due to a cyclist’s common act of nighttime improvisation. He was hanging out at a friend’s place, all set to head home, when he realized he didn’t have his lights. As one does, he duct-taped makeshift reflectors to his metal steed. They weren’t a good look and weren’t particularly effective, but they were enough to inspire him to action. He teamed up with friends and designers Koen Ruskamp and Jelle Van Stegeren, and together formed the Hague-based Rydon to build a brand new fixture.
“When we started we had a clear vision of what the product should be: A light that always works,” van de Watering tells Co.Design. Figuring out how to turn this platonic ideal into a physical reality, however, was quite a tall order. Pixio represents the culmination of a project five years in the making, developed in the off- and after-hours from the trio’s day jobs. It’s a bright new addition, thanks to a few key features.
Initial concepts ran on kinetic energy (Starke-style). But even the strongest quads couldn’t generate the right kind of sustained pedal power. The solution came in the form of integrated solar panels, which the team refined to work with high-capacity, high-retention batteries sourced after extensive research.
The designers proudly report that each Pixio will last for an impressive two years right out of the box. Simply joyriding (or commuting or doing errands) in the summer months would be enough to charge you through the winter. Ultimately, an hour of sun will translate into three of illumination. So this is the light of a lifetime.
They cost about $60 a pair, but if these are the last lights you ever have to buy, that is a total steal.
Speaking of crime, Rydon’s next breakthrough was to create a custom mounting system that is impervious to theft attempts. The strap-based rigging is deceptively unbeatable. It requires a special tool to install Pixio on your seatpost or handlebars, and that same tool to take it off. Once it’s on, it’s on; or, in the wise words of those old infomercials, just set it and forget it.
As far as aesthetics, the light isn’t exactly incognito, but that’s part of the appeal. The durable rubber sleeves come in five colors and the Pixio manages to pull off a super simple and appealing minimalism. It’s a safety device you’d see at a shop and think “Oooh” as opposed to the usual “Eh.” There are a few other solar-powered options out there, but this one’s a looker.