Probing the Fire Eye Helmet Light

Lazer, Fire Eye, and Planet Bike Superflash
Homeland Security: We have a Lazer Fire Eye Superflash in progress.

It’s a busy Friday night in a college town.

You see a man setting up a strange blinking apparatus right next to the train station–just as the Amtrak is loading and unloading passengers.

The man quickly walks away.

What do you do?

I got some funny looks from a few bar hoppers as I walked briskly away from these three helmets.  I started mentally rehearsing what I would say to the armed agents who would be subduing me on the pavement any minute.

I was comparing the Fire Eye helmet light to two other lights, trying to see how they could compete against each other, as well as compete for attention with all the other lights in an urban environment.

I’d already tested it in pitch darkness. That didn’t prove anything.

Any bike light can catch an eye when there are no distractions around.

Fire Eye
Fire Eye vs. Pitch Darkness. So?

The Fire Eye is very bright. No doubt about it. It held it’s own against the Superflash from Planet Bike, which is our gold standard for crazy, blinking, seizure-inducing rear lights. But the Superflash is not intended to be a helmet light. (Although it can be rigged up on a helmet with Velcro, duct tape, or chewing gum–and we do.)

There’s a prototype feel to Fire Eye; in the slightly clunky design of the controller; in how it is controlled (see video); and in how it is installed. Erik from Illuminated Cycling wrote me that he is working on Fire Eye 2.0 with a different controller and actuator design. (I think “actuator” is Inventor Talk for “button.”)

He says he is also working on Fire Eye front lights. I imagine Erik assembling these in his garage–which makes me love the product even more.

However, I would not recommend these to anyone who can’t lace their own shoes or can’t assemble Ikea furniture.

Fire Eye
Type that URL correctly in one try and you win a prize

It took me less time to rig the aforementioned Superflash to a helmet for the test than it did for me to properly install the Fire Eye.

The product comes with enough Velcro pieces to leave no helmet behind.

The installation instructions are downloaded from the Illuminated Cycling Web site, and include contingencies for several common helmet designs. Nonetheless, I found it took a little common sense and creativity to make it work.

Fire Eye Rear Lights
Photo: Illumninated Cycling

I’d like to see Fire Eye lights come integrated with helmets–like the feeble rear light on my Lazer helmet, only not feeble. But Erik didn’t seem interested.

As a cyclist I want as much flexibility in my equipment as possible, and I think integrating this system into one line of helmets limits the options a consumer has. I know I speak for myself but I want the helmet that fits ME best and is most comfortable for ME. That’s how a helmet should be selected, and after it’s selected a consumer can add my lights if they wish. I think integrating lighting into a helmet might push consumers toward a helmet that’s just not “perfect” for them but they select it more based upon the lights then on the helmet.

But Erik could make a ton of money licensing this to Bell, Nutcase, or one of the other helmet giants. Don’t you think?

Unless… he’s biding his time until he can sell out to the aliens.

Fire Eye helmet lights are available from Illuminated Cycling for $ 34.95, shipping included.

My previous goofing off with Fire Eye lights can be seen here: Jawa Costume from Bike Accessories

Samaanya by The Stan Laurels used by permission. Click here for the full-length video.

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8 thoughts on “Probing the Fire Eye Helmet Light”

  1. Bill says:

    The last mode is Morse Code. It is S.O.S. That would be useful if you got hit by a car and were stranded and needing help.

  2. sygyzy says:

    I am impressed at the production quality of this video, especially how good the voice overs are. You have a great speaking voice, a good cadence, and tone. Thanks for the review of the Fire Eye. I think the designer could take a look at modern flashlight software systems for inspiration on how to make the mode switches easier. 9 clicks, while on a bike? Please.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Thanks! We just use iMovie to edit the videos. As for my voiceovers, you’re very kind. It is easier to do in a controlled environment than in my live interviews, were I sound like a Toasmasters’ flunky. I also do my voice overs at home, where I’m more relaxed than I’d be at the office.

      I expect Illuminated Cycling to emerge as a great source of lighting for cyclists. Fire Eye is a little clunky, but they got the most important part right–it’s a great light. With some user feedback taken to heart, they should be able to make it easier to use and install. I’ve already received an e-mail message from Erik, and he seemed very receptive to the minor criticisms I had.

  3. bikeboy999 says:

    When you say “gold std” of lighting have you tried the Dinotte series of lights. I have the 140 lumen version and it blows my Planet Bike super flashes away. The Portland design lights are fairly strong as well. I have yet to see the new two watt Planet bike lights so I can not comment on their effectiveness.


    1. Ted Johnson says:

      No, I haven’t tried those. Gold Standard doesn’t necessarily refer to the absolute best in a category. I just mean that the Superflash represents a high-quality and well-known reference point.

      I haven’t seen the new generation of Superflash either, but I hope to. And when I do, I’ll try to find a way of testing them that won’t put me on the terrorist watch list.

  4. That’s hilarious–it’s Morse code all right, but it is “SOO”, not SOS. I wonder what “SOO” is trying to signal…

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      SOO is the international hog-call distress signal.

  5. Dwight Kellams says:

    LED’s are highly directional so I have found the self-leveling Planet Bike helmet mount option to be the only helmet light that took into consideration that the rider’s helmet is constantly changing angles with the road. How does Fire Eye account for this?

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