What is Retro-Reflection and How Can it Protect Cyclists?

New 3D technology could make biking safer and render small lights obsolete

For years the only safety measures available for nighttime cyclists were small ineffective lights or primitive reflective devices. Poor visibility caused far too many accidents and there were no adequate solutions.

Cue the guys at Mission Bicycle Company and their newest creation, the Lumen. This bicycle is unlike anything made before; it is the very first consumer cycle to offer retro-reflective coating. Unlike most reflectors that shoot light off at different angles, retro-reflection directs light right back at the source. The reflective capabilities are said to be so strong that the cycle can be seen from one thousand feet away.

The inspiration for this project was born out of our daily/nightly city riding. As we passed hyper-reflective street signs surrounded by dark cyclists we asked ‘Why can’t this technology be applied to a bicycle frame?’

As it turns out, prior to their experiment, that reflective technology could only be applied to 2D surfaces. That’s when they teamed up with Halo Coatings. Together, Mission Bikes and Halo Coatings developed 3D capable retro-reflective coating and put it on bicycles. What appears to be a charcoal grey bike in the daytime turns into an iridescent cycle at night.

In order to get major production running, Mission Bikes posted the Lumen on Kickstarter.com. They listed a funding goal of $15,000 and by the close of the campaign; backers had pledged $62,043, a good indication of the need for this technology in the cycling world. Backers who pledged smaller amounts of money received decals and shirts, but those who pledged larger amounts got the first shot at owning a bike fitted with retro-reflection. The options ranged from “just the frame and the fork” for $499 to the “internally geared special edition for $2,500.

Now that they have all the funding they need (and a whole lot more), they plan to begin the production process. They hope to begin delivery in July.