The Defender! Killer Commuter Bike Light from Gotham Bike on Kickstarter

Gotham Bicycle Defender theft proof six gun commuter bike light

Limited Edition Gunmetal Black version will be available to early supporters only.

Slava Menn, co-founder of Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries, started talking to us about a commuter bike light project a while back, inquiring whether features like theft-proofness and ease of use were of importance. Since several of our contributors commute daily in major cities (Los Angeles, Portland) and the rest of us use our bikes for short errands, we gave them our feedback and went on about our business.

About a month later, we received these stunning photos of the Defender, their absolutely gorgeous commuter light concept. With looks like these, it’s a good thing they did end up putting a focus on theft resistance…

Gotham Bicycle Defender theft proof six gun commuter bike light

The Defender uses three AA batteries to power six LED lights packed in a bad ass six shooter gun barrel design. Right now, they’re claiming it’s in the 50 lumen range, but they’re still doing final testing. It might get brighter.

The casing is die cast aluminum and acts as a heat sink, dissipating any heat from the LEDs throughout the entire body. To keep it on the bike, it uses a Torx security screw, which Menn says is very uncommon (ie. you can’t buy it at the local hardware store). That makes it unlikely it’ll get stolen since most thefts of this type are opportunistic. Even the battery case is protected by a set screw, so if you’re using expensive rechargeables, they won’t get swiped either.

It’s sealed with three silicone rubber gaskets, which Menn says lets the light keep working even when submerged. Normal rain, even in Portland, shouldn’t affect it.

Weight is 232g and it’ll fit handlebars from 22mm to 32mm diameter. Battery life is rated at 50 hours on continuous and 100 hours blinking. The primary beam has a 30º spread with a periphery of 80º. It’s mainly to be seen, not to light up the night.

Gotham Bicycle Defender theft proof six gun commuter bike light

Menn and Geswein testing an early prototype.

Menn and co-founder Brad Geswein, both MIT grads in engineering and business, have been working on the project for six months. Menn says the inspiration was a friend getting his bicycle light stolen, then got hit by a car on the way home. They surveyed a lot of city riders and found that light theft was a common problem. The other problem they found was that many riders used quick release models to prevent theft but ended up leaving them at home.

Suggested retail will end up around $70, but if you pledge $50 on their Kickstarter campaign, you’ll get one from the first batch as part of the deal. You’ll also get a T-shirt and water bottle if you pledge a little more. Go big on your support and you can get one of the limited edition Black versions shown here or even get custom laser engraving! They’re looking to raise $18,000 to go into production, part of which will be done in the U.S. Check the video below for more of the story and their, uh, comprehensive testing. Good luck guys!

Comments

zach - 02/15/12 - 12:28pm

Great idea! A USB chargable version would be great! Maybe for the next model!

kj - 02/15/12 - 12:37pm

Can’t represent ‘Gotham’ without being in NYC. Pick a better name boys.

mkrs - 02/15/12 - 12:52pm

Very good loking light! Their suggestions about the need to cool a 50 lm light with such a huge aluminum case are a bit too much though ;) Still a lovely and well-designed light anyway!

David - 02/15/12 - 1:02pm

You actually can get torx screwdrivers from local hardware stores. My local ace hardware has them next to flat heads and Philips heads.

h2ofuel - 02/15/12 - 1:18pm

If I pledge enough, do you think they would make me one that doubles as an actual pistol? Preferably one that unloads all 6 chambers at once. I’d love to just unload on wayward drivers and pedestrians… with paintballs, of course.

PP - 02/15/12 - 1:21pm

Cool looking, but $70 for 50 lumens is waaay behind the curve right now. You can get 700 lumens or more for that price.
Also needs USB recharge, or better still a dyno hub hookup too.

Adamizer - 02/15/12 - 1:54pm

Yep that’s what we need alright, stuff on our bicycles that looks like a gun to prompt already angry drivers.

Steve M - 02/15/12 - 2:05pm

Bulbs come in .38 and .45 caliber?

Superstantial - 02/15/12 - 2:18pm

Hate to nitpick, but Portland isn’t a major city.

Superstantial - 02/15/12 - 2:25pm

Actually, I don’t hate to nitpick. It had to be said.

Robert - 02/15/12 - 2:31pm

Hate to discourage these guys, but I think 100 lumens should be the design target, even for a commuter light like this one. That is what similar priced lights from Cateye, Planet Bike and PDW are putting out.

PDXFixed.com - 02/15/12 - 3:42pm

Weird, I’ve got a set of all the sizes of Torx security bits right here on my desk. Got them from my local hardware store…

Steve M - 02/15/12 - 4:07pm

Upon further review- what happens when a cop thinks that thing is real and plugs you right in the middle of the forehead with his/her service revolver?

Reginald vel Johnson - 02/15/12 - 4:17pm

A must have for the hipster in your life…

David - 02/15/12 - 5:15pm

I don’t think its a good idea. Too few lumens. Not USB rechargeable, looks dumb.

Gillis - 02/15/12 - 6:30pm

To those who mentioned it: a USB charging set-up doesn’t make sense for this product because its not intended to be removed from the bike.

Other than that I think the novelty of the aesthetic is pointless. There are better ways they could’ve made it look cool.

Mark Hodgson - 02/15/12 - 6:30pm

Having several Niterider lights to compare with this one, I can tell you that the “Defender’s” lumen output is pathetically weak, the attachment via torx screw is NOT theft-proof and for the money it’s a waste of time in it’s current state. Also agree with above poster that rechargeable is a must as well.

I would like to see a bike light that has a vice-grip type attachment to the handle bars, so when you have to run into a store or wherever, you just squeeze the “handles” and the light comes off the bars and you put it in your pocket. Reverse the process to re-attach and away you go.

And to be fair the Niterider “rubber band” attachment currently in use ain’t all that great.

when - 02/15/12 - 9:59pm

Gee, hot glue in all my fastener heads has always worked for theftproofing my stuff. Loads cheaper and easier than expensive, underpowered, clunky lights like this one..

And this looks nothing like a firearm. Perhaps an 18th century pepperbox, but certainly nothing modern.

bike1225 - 02/15/12 - 10:35pm

haters gonna hate
lovers gonna love
i dont even want
none of the above
i wanna….

Thanks for making cool stuff, sure its not the claimed lumens of some other stuff but its nice to have new blood in the bike industry making neat stuff.

DiscoDave - 02/15/12 - 11:20pm

Seriously?? I know I”m beating a dead horse but what about a torx head say theft proof. The only thing unique about this light is that it looks like a revolver. Other than that subpar attempt that ads nothing new to the market.

Vodalous - 02/15/12 - 11:31pm

That thing looks sick! To bad about the cost.

Rich - 02/16/12 - 7:12am

Great idea, sell it to CatEye or Smart. it looks expensive, its underpowered, its overpriced and the only “innovation” is in a bolt you can buy from a hardware store.

Choppenstein - 02/16/12 - 11:41am

+1 on “Portland is not a major city.”

Expensive, heavy, and dim. 3 qualities I pass on. Looks like a gun? Not only do I pass on that aspect, I run the other way.

DaleC - 02/16/12 - 12:05pm

If the fasteners are Torx-post (have a little round post in the center), then the bits are not very common. I am betting that is what they mean by “Torx security”.

Pretty cool, to me at least, that it is a dead ringer for the cylinder in a revolver.

DaleC - 02/16/12 - 12:08pm

Just watched the video… yep, Torx-post.

Editz - 02/16/12 - 4:57pm

Is this supposed to be a “see” or “be seen” light? And it’s 2012 – time for manufacturers to embrace asymmetrical lenses for street lights and not just blast everything in sight with an off-road lamp design.

DaveP - 02/17/12 - 5:38am

Those deep-set emitters look cool from the front but what about visibility side on??
Any chance of a small LEDs on the sides for when stopped at junctions?

Good luck guys.. people looking for form over function will buy them no matter my concerns. ;-)

Sean - 02/17/12 - 10:12am

Sorry guys, it’s good to see someone doing it for themselves but it’s got plenty of teething issues.
Safety first, low lumens and narrow line of sight are real issues.
Putting the centre of gravity way over the front means it’s going to twist on that first pothole unless you have the perfect size bars.
These security torx are very easily sourced but yes, it will stop opportunists
Like the simplicity of AA battery system
“….these stunning photos of the Defender” – I think they’re probably a render output

Tywin - 02/19/12 - 3:32am

A few of you need to re-watch the video – Torx bolts don’t have a piece in the middle, regular Torx keys wont work. Duh.

Otherwise seems like a bombproof design, but the lumen output definitely needs to be improved to 100+.

marki3boy - 02/20/12 - 4:42am

It’s a good product, but wouldn’t it just be easier to take your quick release light with you?

For that reason, aahm oot.

Slade - 02/20/12 - 11:54am

Way to go gents. I am confused by all this gun hype. This is clearly a representation of one part of a revolver. I believe a light that looked like a gun barrel, or even a gun grip would be more threatening. No one is going to get shot because this looks like a firearm. And I would be interested to learn what police departments still use revolvers. Not many, or any. Now, I think a side led, brighter lights, and caps that cover the screws would make this a sure shot. Pun intended. Matching rear light in red for 70$ seems reasonable.

Morten - 02/24/12 - 2:12am

Well done guys! I love the waterproofing, this has been the cause of death of almost every light I’ve had. Nice idea re security but I’m waiting for atomic22 so i can lock up my lights and everything else

Adam - 05/31/12 - 4:22pm

It’s a sharp looking light. I still might hesitate leaving out all night. I recently swapped all my allen bolts for torx security to cut down on opportunistic thievery.

http://www.bicyclebolts.com

erik - 05/15/13 - 3:48pm

I bought one of these lights because it looks nice and hoped in was made in the Gotham area. But the rice paper box made my heart sink a little. There is no country of origin on the product, packing or website. I had to dig into their blog to read them describing dealing with China. I find obfuscating dishonest. Especially when companies like BanjoBros. list it in their FAQ’s and are upfront about it.

I contacted them about this. I also told them I cold steal the light off my bike in under 30 seconds. What I got back was the excuse of domestic manufacturing being too expensive. So how does Blink do it? Park Tool? Ironically, Gotham did not want to know how I was able to steal their light so quickly.

I bought my defender from One On One bike shop. They had no idea where it was made. I talked to Alleycat Cycles and Roger informed me they were cool and all. Most likely imported. They had to stretch the springs in the internal mechanism to get the light to work properly. Quality control issues are notorious from Chinese low level labor.

The bolt is not a torx security bolt. It is a five pointed bolt circle. Which they claim is a janitor’s key or something similar that they do not sell, readily available. But since I have bought the light, I have a key and can steal as many Defenders as I need to.

I am also a machinist and can make a key. But actually buying a light or making a key is unnecessary. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS JAM THE CORRECT WIDTH FLAT-BLADED SCREWDRIVER INTO THE BOLT HEAD. THE SCREWDRIVER SHOULD HAVE FLATS ON THE SHAFT. GRAB THE SHAFT WITH AN ADJUSTABLE WRENCH OR PLIERS AND SIMPLY TURN COUNTERCLOCKWISE. REPLACE WITH A SOCKET HEAD CAP SCREW.

I also have worked as a master bike mechanic. They will perform the above procedure unless you have mangle the bolt head. The second option will be to take a cutting tool and cut the bolt. Then they will replace the bolt with a hex bolt. They will sell you a hex key set if you do not have one already.

The third option is to pound the pin out of the hinge. If you look closely you can see the marks the knurls left on one side. That is the side you want to pound the pin out. Then when off the bike, unthread the pentagon bolt from satan and thread in you bolt head of choice with matching threads. Use soft-jaws or similar in a vice. Press the un-knurled side of the pin in first. You are pressing in the side you pressed the pin out of. You should see the marks in the aluminum hinge. Or have someone who knows metal show you this.

But other than looks, why would you want to steal this light? It is heavier, has no intelligent optics, is half as bright as much cheaper lights. You can buy a 100 lumen L.E.D. replacement bulb for a cheap Cateye for $10 from superbrightleds.com The weight is an issue. It is offset. So it will tend to spin on your handlebar. so you are going to have to ride like a wuss, constantly adjust your light, use some adhesive tape, or overtighten the clamping mechanism. Hopefully your handlebar is engineered properly and you are not creating sheering or crumpling point

In Minneapolis, if we do not want our lights stolen we remove them from the bike when we lock it up. And they keep telling us that the Midwest is 10 years behind the coasts.

Layne Lyons - 12/07/13 - 7:55pm

Day! Just use a hacksaw on the bolt!!!!! he he he he!!!!! From Santa!!!!!!!

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