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Reinventing The Wheel

Behind the scenes with Bike Engineers and Entrepreneurs. Fortified Bicycle Alliance.

A Peak behind the Curtain: Assembling the World’s Best Bike Lights

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

That’s what we remind ourselves anytime we get frustrated by how long it takes to produce a great, new product.

We’ve come to terms with the fact there are no shortcuts to quality, especially when it comes to making the world’s best bike light.

But now that we’ve figured out the hard stuff, we’re producing your new favorite light en masse and it’s a thing of beauty.

Don’t believe us? See for yourself:

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Aviator and Afterburner: They’re Here and They’re Spectacular

Although we’re buried under layers of Boston snow, the atmosphere at Fortified HQ is unseasonably sweltering.

For that, we can thank the invaluable, sincere support from the world’s best backers and the exciting breakthrough we’ve made on the world’s best bike lights.

We’ve just received our first 100 Aviators and Afterburners from our manufacturers in Shenzhen and they are downright glorious. We’ve rush-ordered 4,900 more (expedited shipping costs be damned!) which will come later this month.

From the seamless collar-locking that’s smoother than butter to the entirely-too-gratifying button-push that emits the perfect “click,” everything is just right.

But that’s enough words for now – we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Bruno’s Back from Shenzhen and He’s Bearing Gifts in the form of Bike Lights

The excitement level at Fortified HQ is reaching frightening new heights as we rapidly approach the best day of our collective lives.

That glorious day, of course, is the day that we get to deliver the world’s best bike lights to you, the world’s most supportive backers.

The big news of the day is that our rockstar Director of Ops, Bruno, has just returned from our factory in Shenzhen where manufacturing has begun.

In addition to brightening our office with his presence, Bruno came bearing wonderful gifts. No, we’re not talking about the traditional Chinese New Years masks we requested (although those are pretty nifty).

We’re talking about the golden samples of your new favorite bike light!

These magnificent samples are particularly encouraging because, unlike our prototypes, they were produced using the same molds and process that we’ll be using for mass production.

Check out the video below to see the samples in action and hear a brief rundown of the timeline for delivery.


Bike Light Manufacturing has Begun!

The current atmosphere at Fortified HQ can be best described as giddy. That’s because, after months of tweaks, banging our heads against the wall and exciting breakthroughs, manufacturing has begun!

Shipping is scheduled for the 2nd week of February. In fact, we’ve got Bruno, our rockstar Director of Ops, on the factory floor right now and he’s passed along some pictures to document the process.

We are always 100% transparent and want to show you everything, so check out the photos below and let us know what other parts of the process you’d like to see from the inside. As always, we’ll do our best to oblige.

Die cast parts just after they’ve been powder coated

Die cast parts just after they’ve been powder coated

Press fitting the parts together

Press fitting the parts together

Installing the printed circuit board with LED

Installing the printed circuit board with LED

Adding the lens

Adding the lens





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Charging and testing battery reliability


Sample on-site daily update from Bruno to Fortified HQ (click to enlarge)

Man vs. Machine: the (5000) Button Click Challenge

As city cyclists, we know that your bike gear is part of your everyday life and that’s why we obsess over every detail of our bike lights. Not just the big picture stuff like low-battery indicators and ensuring they’re theft-proof. We’re talking every detail, down to the fulfilling feeling of pushing an “on” button that feels just right.

Well, we’re proud to announce that after weeks of testing (that doesn’t affect ship date), we’ve nailed the button push. It features the perfect amount of give and produces an overwhelmingly satisfying “click.”

But how can we be sure that the button click will feel just as gratifying on its 5000th click as it does on its first? We could rely on theoretical physics or the promises of our manufacturers, but that’s just not the Fortified way.

Nope, the only way to be sure it feels perfect after 5000 presses is to actually press it…5000 times.

Slava Button Push

596 clicks….597….598…

Fortunately for Slava, one of our whiz engineers put on his MacGyver mullet and made a machine to do the job for us. Using an Arduino micro-controller, a servo motor, a C-clamp and lots of zip ties he hacked together this brilliant test jig.  He even added a light sensor to be sure the light was turning on and off.

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(Bonus feature: click here to see Will explaining how the jig works!)

Now we know that the 5000th button push feels just as good as the first : )

What other behind-the-scenes footage would you like to see? Leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to oblige!

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