Brian Mitchell

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Process: Vector Bicycle Light

Added on by Brian Mitchell.

The Vector bicycle light was designed by myself and Michael Clare in 2009 as a means of promoting safety with riders of single speed and fixed gear bicycles. By researching the habits and trends of cyclists within this segment, we designed a light that was consistent with user preferences, including being efficient in function and subtle in form.

Poor visibility is a leading cause of bicycle / automobile accidents.

The process for the vector project involved a lot of research in two fields. The first was an examination into the causes of bicycle accidents and injuries, especially those involving other riders or automobiles


Graph showing results from worldwide survey

The second part of the research was to peek into what exactly makes cyclists tick. What is it they like about their particular bike? What do they dislike in other bikes? Are they a choosy rider, or a little more easy going? Perhaps most importantly of all, What will you put on your bike, and what will you leave off?

Many cyclists are very particular about their rides.

An easy way to discover the answer to these questions was to interview cyclists who are passionate about their rides. By conducting one-on-one interviews with users (who ranged from recreational riders to bike messengers), we were able to identify some important contributing factors that influenced how a bicycle product impacted its target market.

Userboard copy.jpg

When a cyclist cannot find a part on the market that they approve of, many will opt not to include the part on their bike at all. When that part happens to be designed to keep the rider safe, it can cause unecessary risk of injury or death to the rider. Contrary to their best interests, many riders sacrifice safety for the look of their bike, simply because they cannot find something currently offered that they approve of.


After investigating products on the current market, it became apparent that most bicycle lights had been designed to be very utilitarian and ultra-performance based. While these characteristics would be perfect for a mountain or track cyclist, where the value of aesthetics and product integration would be slightly diminished, they are not ideal for single speed and fixed gear riders. Functionality is still important, but so is simplicity and the appropriate use of form and materials.

Examples of colors and materials on bike frames and accessories

Things like color, material, and form are extremely important when it comes to choosy riders on valued rides. No one wants to put a complicated, amorphous device on a stripped down, curated frame. Therefore research into what did integrate well with bicycles and other bicycle parts was essential.


The saddle rails provided a perfect mounting point for a rear bicycle light. They are sturdy, subtle (they're tucked up under the seat from most vantage points), and best of all: they're already there.


Click here to view the final product.