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Santa Cruz brains behind the BikeGlow bike light on the move
In January, Street Smarts introduced readers to Chris Cobb, Ken Nowak and Evrett Kramer, the three avid Santa Cruz bicyclists who created the BikeGlow bike light. The BikeGlow is unique from other bike lights on the market in that it’s a 10 foot long tube of light that can be wrapped around a bicycle’s frame, enabling motorists to see the cyclist from any angle. Now, the light is about to go global, one year after the three men decided they were going to invest in making their idea come to life, Cobb said, while adding that worldwide distribution contracts should be signed in a matter of weeks. “We’re really excited,” said Cobb of the light that was endorsed by Team Type 1, one of the teams that participated in the AMGEN Tour of California this past February. “The market is unbelievable. It’s not another head light. It’s not another tail light. There hasn’t been a different kind of bike light on the market in years. BikeGlow is going to explode.” The worldwide cycling community already seems to be getting excited about the newest arrival to the bike light scene. “When your article came out, there were all kinds of bike blogs and media outlets – including one in Spain -- picking it up,” Cobb said. “We weren’t ready for that yet.” But the trio, whose day jobs include being a sales manager for a local developer research company, a Caltrans structural engineer and a small business owner, is ready now. After selling individual units for $24.99 online at www.bikeglow.com since December, BikeGlow shipped to stores for the first time in July. And it’s being received well. The light, which comes in red, white, purple, pink, blue, aqua, green and yellow, is carried by local bike shops, the Mike’s Bikes chain in the San Francisco Bay Area and national outdoor retailer REI. Sales have been brisk, helped along recently by Burning Man, an art event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, the shops reported. “About once a week, someone would call or come by asking about it,” said Sam Burton, sales associate at The Bike Trip on Soquel Avenue. “But for Burning man, a lot of people have been asking for them.” Jessi Hance is one of BikeGlow’s repeat customers. The long-time bicycle commuter has bought lights for several friends after seeing the effect her BikeGlow has had on her nighttime rides. “I’ve noticed a trend of drivers who are going the same route as me giving me a wider berth at night,” she said. “Not all of them, but many of them. That definitely makes me feel safer. Some years ago, I was hit from the side in the dark because a driver didn't notice me, even though I had front and rear lights. I hope the BikeGlow will reduce the chances of that.” About 70 percent of vehicle versus bicycle crashes involve cyclists being hit from the side. “I would never, never, ever suggest a BikeGlow light instead of front and rear bike lights,” Hance added. “Rather, it's a great complement, to make you visible from the side as well as from in front or behind you.” But the BikeGlow bike light isn’t for everyone, said Burton, of The Bicycle Trip. “It takes a certain person for that,” he said. “It’s a good idea for safety on your bike but the average commuter doesn’t go for it. Most people are going for the basic blink light for the rear.” The Bicycle Trip’s most popular light is the Australian-made Knog head and tail lights, Burton said. The Knog Gekko and Frog lights cost $27 and $11.99, respectively. Meanwhile, the light that comes close to the BikeGlow in providing protection from side impact is the Down Low Glow, a product out of Berkeley that mounts to the lower areas of a bike’s frame, illuminates the ground under the bike, Cobb said. The Down Low Glow goes for $115. BikeGlow info Length: 10 feet System: Electroluminescent Batteries: 2 AA Weight with batteries: 98 grams Battery life flashing: 120 hours Battery life steady: 50 hours Number of bulbs: 1 Mounting: Bicycle frame; handlebars; clothing Weatherproof: Yes, with proper installation Cost: $24.99
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