John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A couple of MIT grads have developed a light that's 1) extremely hard to steal, and 2) shaped like a pistol.
Following the cherished design principle of "everything is cooler when shaped like a gun," two MIT graduates have developed a light for your bicycle that sticks up thieves.
Absorb the threat of "The Defender," a bike accessory that looks ready to deal out some Old West-style lead justice. Say its developers, Brad Geswein and Slava Menn: "As you know, city biking can be a battle. We captured the struggle of the urban cyclist in our design."
Specifically Ori Levin of Tsor Industrial Design captured the struggle by coming up with the revolver concept. Levin's also the guy, for those who are interested, who created the foldable canoe. Naturally, the light comes painted in Gunmetal Black. The aluminum "barrel" packs six LEDs in its chambers, a scary-looking feature that should make a pilferer think twice about stealing it... although in reality, the slick design will probably just make it an even more attractive target.
That's where the engineers have added another nifty feature: A series of cryptic screws. While the light clamps onto a bike's handlebars in a matter of seconds, it's nearly impossible to remove without a special screwdriver. As the grads note in the below promo video, "It's not designed to be Fort Knox, but it will be the hardest thing to steal off your bike." Expect it to still be there when you come back to your bike after several days of absence – your seat and wheels just might be gone, is all.
Despite being in the prototype stage, The Defender has rallied huge support from bicyclists, gathering more than $53,000 in preorders on Kickstarter. (The project's goal was only $18,000.) That's probably because lights are so often the first thing to disappear from unattended bikes, being both small and expensive. Geswein and Menn ran an online survey and found that one in three cyclists have had their light jacked. One of their friends, they say, was even hit by a car at night after somebody stole his light.
With 100 hours of life provided by three double-A batteries and the ability to work while submerged in a foot of water, The Defender's $70 price tag seems almost reasonable. You might want to wait for the developers to mock up the companion back light, though, which one guy on Kickstarter is hoping will be shaped like a "cross section from a double-barrel shotgun to complete the theme."