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Reinventing The Wheel

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

Rear Bike Light Industrial Design Jam [Photos]

“Just because something looks good doesn’t mean its useful. And just because something is useful does not make it beautiful.” – Joshua Brewer

Form + Function.  It’s the ultimate challenge for a designer.  Bike companies, with armies of engineers and designers fail us and make ugly products that don’t perform.  Look no farther than bike lights that fall off your handlebars and u-locks that won’t mount to your frame.  A love for design simply is not in the DNA of most large bike companies.

Love for design must begin at the embryonic stage of a new product.  Below are photos from this process we love.

Gotham’s Industrial Design Process

1. Creative Brief Sets The Tone:  A great industrial designers is one part artist, one part engineer.  And the artist needs direction.  To understand Gotham,  the designer must understand our mission: defending the city cyclist.  The best way to relate this is a creative brief that contains imagery, language, and inspiration for the company and product.  We’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.

2. Engineering Brief Sets The Tech: To understand the technical side, my cofounder, Brad Geswein, created a Engineering Brief.  This answers all the technical questions including, “What materials is this made of? “Where does the bike light attach?” “What is the seat-post diameter?”  “How many lights?” “What angle is the light positioned?”

3. Inspiring Products: Industrial designers draw inspiration from artists before them.  The best way to evoke this inspiration is to collect representative products and print them out.  Eric Whewell, our designer, brought with him images of stealth helicopters, jet engines, and Alienware to inspire our design session.

Bike Light Inspiration

Slava & Eric look at stealth fighters and jet engines

4. Journal Sketches: Great designers often begins in a Moleskin.  Eric took our ideas to a coffee shop and put pen to paper.  The initial concepts allowed us to react and shape the direction.


Eric Whewell’s design journal

5. Jam Session: Finally, we got together with Eric refined the concepts.  We used whiteboards, he used fancy pens and sharpies.  And before us, our ideas unfolded into 2D renderings.  Photos below.

Brad gives technical direction for the rear bike light.






  1. Wow, this looks like a really awesome meeting. Design is always one of the most fun experiences. It’s when things come to life for the first time.

    So, when can I buy a rear light?

    This looks like some jet pack stuff man! LOL!! Nice design~ Love the orange color touch~

  3. Thanks, Guys! Rear bike light will be going onto Kickstarter in July and available in the fall.

  4. I meant the headlight on the handlebars. From this post it looks as if the rear light could be anywhere.

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