Vololights: A Major Advance in Motorcycle Safety Technology

Image from gizmag.com

Image from gizmag.com

You’re tooling around town on your bike, and as you lean into the left turn lane and downshift to slow down, you suddenly notice the car headlights in your rear-view mirror are getting bigger… fast. Your survival instinct kicks in and you roll the throttle on, barely escaping the impending rear-ender and the inevitable ambulance (or hearse) ride. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 267 deaths of motorcyclists in rear-end collisions in 2011. Usually the driver of the colliding vehicle isn’t aware the motorcycle is rapidly slowing down. Riders often do not use their brakes when they start slowing, relying instead on engine braking and downshifting; thus, the brake lights do not illuminate.

Advanced Technology to the Rescue

Luckily for the bike riders, the San Diego design and engineering firm Vectolabs has invented and patented a warning system attachment called Vololights. These are LED lights that flash when the motorcycle decelerates, whether the brakes are applied or not. In an interview on RideApart.com, Vectolabs marketing director Jesse Syznal said, “There are two critical points that the sensors and module monitor; the first is when a rider eases off the gas and starts to decelerate at 16 feet per second. This will cause the LED lights to flash alternately at twice a second. The next point is slowing at 23 feet per second, and this will make the lights create a solid double bar and flash alternately at five times per second.” Employing what Vectolabs calls the Adaptive Perceptible Deceleration Indicator (APDI), LEDs on a user-installed license plate frame activate when sensors feel the motorcycle slowing.

Vololights: A Breakdown

Currently, the brake light triggers by hydraulic pressure when the brake lever/pedal are used. Vololights activate when the bike decelerates by any means. Motorcycle brake lights are hard to perceive, whether solid or flashing, if the rider is tapping the pedal. The driver behind the rider cannot tell how quickly the bike is slowing. Vololights solves this by changing its flash rate by the rate of deceleration.

The Vectolabs patented system combines an accelerometer and a microprocessor to precisely measure the slowing rate. Installation of the license frame is simple and requires no special tools. Vololights runs on the bike’s 12-volt electrical system and gets power from the brake light wires. The kit includes a quick connector to join the wires. Finally, you have to calibrate the device by placing the included magnet on the lens and turning on the motorcycle’s power. After a few seconds, the LEDs flash, indicating calibration is complete, and you are ready to ride.

A Final Word

Ken Whalster is president of Bike Bandit, the largest online powersports parts and accessories distributor in the U.S. He’s a believer in Vololights, blogging, “Vololights revolutionizes motorcycle safety. With the ability to signal any method of deceleration in addition to alerting drivers how fast the rider is braking, Vololights could potentially reduce rear-end collisions.” According to Vectolabs co-founder Faizal Ali, Vololights will be available in the fall and cost $69.

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