Tour of Light & Motion in Monterey, CA

Since I’m already out here in California to see what this Sea Otter excitement is all about, I thought I would drop by our friends at Light & Motion – makers of great cycling lights, including their impressive commuting lineup. The Light & Motion headquarters (and factory, and design studio, and manufacturing facility, among other things) is located in a converted cannery warehouse in Monterey, CA – near the famous Cannery Row, and right on the ocean.

The first thing that you notice when you walk into their headquarters is the open layout – you can see almost all aspects of the operation, from engineering to assembly, in this one shot.

Here’s a shot of an assembly station (which is located down on the lower level of the previous wide-angle photo). The CAD printouts above each station show the steps in the assembly process, and the workers meticulously assemble each light from dozens of pieces to create, in this case, an Urban 300 LED Headlight.

Here’s a close-up view of an LED and the circuit board that controls the light, before they are assembled into the finished product.

The folks at Light & Motion are proud of the fact that almost everything that goes into their lights is manufactured right in their factory headquarters – in addition to being assembled there. One step in that process is this rapid prototyping machine, which lets them go from computer drawing to a physical object to test in moments.

Once the design is worked out, an automated milling machine is used to create aluminum molds for any of the myriad molded parts that are needed for the lights, from buttons to outer covers.

Here’s a shot of some of the finished molds:

The resin that is heated up to smoothly flow into the molds comes in the form of little pellets – but the key to the process is finding the right mixture of raw materials, as different plastics have different properties of elasticity that need to be balanced in the proper recipe (don’t worry, they’ve got people who know how to work that out).

While down in the machine shop area, we passed by the employee dive locker – I did mention that they are literally right on the ocean!

But having certified divers on their staff is actually good business, as half of the lights that Light & Motion builds are for underwater use, like this 4000 lumen monster (don’t turn this one on while staring at it!):

Of course there was also ample space allotted for employee bikes as well:

I want to thank the folks at Light & Motion for showing me around their factory headquarters – it was great to see a company that designs, manufactures and assembles such high quality products with pride right here in the US. 

Product Profile: Light & Motion Commuter Bike Lights

Light & Motion has been designing and building lights for over 20 years from their home in Monterey, California – from lights that are designed to go 200 feet below the ocean, to lights that shine the way for a midnight ride on the trails. But one place where they really decided to apply their lighting talent is lights for bike commuting. In typical fashion, Light & Motion did their research, and then created a series of compact, USB-rechargeable, and seriously powerful commuter lights that are unlike anything else on the market. Light & Motion took the concept of “see and be seen” to a whole new level with these commuting lights, incorporating advanced LED lighting technology and amber side lights to make your commute brighter and safer!

The Light & Motion Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light combo packs a serious visual punch, but they both also incorporate brilliant amber side lights to give commuters and road cyclists complete visibility in traffic – especially important at intersections, where having increased visibility from any angle is essential. Of course ease-of-use is also handy, so both the Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light feature Micro USB charging ports and tool-free mounting for quick and easy attachment and removal. The Urban 300 LED Headlight is powered by 1 white LED with a 300 lumen output and the aforementioned 2 amber side lights that provide 180° of visibility and project clean patterns of light. There is also a battery charge indicator that accurately reports the charge status (so you know when its time to recharge), all in a package that weighs only 112g – even though the lights are housed in a solid-feeling metal body. Runtime for the Urban 300 LED Headlight is 2½ hours on High, 4½ hours on Medium and 8½ hours on Low, with an empty-to-full recharge time of 5 hours.

The Light & Motion Vis 180 Tail Light, also available individually, blazes forth with 3 red LEDs with a 35 lumen output, along with its 2 amber side lights to provide 180° of visibility. To put those numbers in perspective, that’s about 10X the power of a common AA powered tail light! And the Vis 180 Tail Light is not just another blinky light in another way, as it doesn’t blink, but instead pulses in a concentrated pattern that attracts attention from anyone on the road. You can cycle through 4 modes on the Vis 180 Tail Light: Pulse High, Pulse Low, Steady and Paceline (which eliminates the top pulsing light), with runtimes from 4 hours on high to 20 hours on the Paceline flash setting. The built-in Li-Ion battery charges in only 4½ hours, and like the  Urban 300 LED Headlight, there is a battery charge indicator to accurately report the charge status. Mounting the Vis 180 Tail Light is simple with a tool-free, adjustable mount that easily attaches to your bike frame, seatstays or seatpost without compromising the viewing angle. Alternatively, you can utilize the locking mount clip to slip the Vis 180 Tail Light on your favorite messenger bag or backpack. You can read what Bikerumor thought about this powerful tail light when they reviewed it here.

The Light & Motion Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light package is the first all-in-one light with a powerful LED headlight, amber side lights, and a four lumen tail light, that delivers a full 360° of visibility to the rider. Easily mounted on your helmet with an easy-on, easy-off snap mount, the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light improves your visibility while riding, even to passing SUV’s! At only 130g, its balanced fore/aft weight makes it barely noticeable on your helmet, but the 1 LED headlight with a 110 lumen output (and amber side lights) combined with the 3 LED tail light with a 4 lumen output means that you will definitely see and be seen out on the road. Runtimes vary from 2½ hours on High, to 5 hours on Low and 20+ hours on Flash (all settings adjusted via the single headlight button), with a recharge time of 4½ hours. To get a better feel for the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light in action, check out this video from Chris, who has been commuting 15 miles each way with this lighting system for the past few months, and is a big fan of it’s versatility and power:

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Product Profile – Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer

Since today is National Bike to Work Day, the culmination of Bike to Work Week, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for a product profile of the new Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer.  If you’ve been commuting by bike this month, you have probably already tried hauling your gear with a set of panniers, or in a backpack or a classic messenger bag. While those are all good commuting options, the Travoy bike trailer is a great alternative to transport just about anything – from a week’s worth of groceries, to a change of clothes for the office, or up to 60lbs of cargo!

Here David demonstrates how the Travoy Trailer hitches effortlessly to your seatpost and travels at a 45° angle, redistributing the load’s weight for easier riding and offering better stability than standard panniers or backpacks.

Setup is quick and easy, as all you need to do to get up and running is to clamp the trailer quick release bracket to your seatpost, and then mount or remove the trailer itself by pulling a little spring-loaded arm out of the way of the hitch pin.

And did we mention that the Travoy trailer can carry up to 60lbs! You can carry some serious loads in the included tote bag:

The tote bag has a nice wide opening and sturdy construction, but you can also upgrade to a waterproof Burley Dry Bag if the forecast calls for heavy downpours.

And when you’re done with your commute, just twist the 2 grips and fold the Travoy down into a convenient size for storage (you can even store the folded Travoy in its own tote bag). The whole setup weighs less than 10lbs, so you can easily just bring it inside with you when you get where you’re going.

Check out the Travoy in action in this video by Burley:

If you’re serious about commuting by bike, take a look at the Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer – it’s a great option to haul your gear in comfort and style.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tony DeRubeis

Here’s our last Bike to Work Week Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tony DeRubeis .

What do you do at Performance?

Spin Doctor Pro Bike Build Coordinator.

How often do you ride to work?

1-2 times per week.

How far do you ride?

42 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

I ride a Scattante XRL cross frame with a Frankenbike parts kit.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

It’s a good workout, plus it’s more enjoyable than driving, it saves money and it’s better for the environment!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Any distance commuting by bike is better than driving – driving half of your commute and biking half is better than driving the whole thing.  And commuting by bike is like stealing time – if your 30 minute drive takes 60 minutes to ride, you get a 60 minute workout while only taking 30 minutes out of your day.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Chris Danz

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Christopher Danz.

What do you do at Performance?

I’m a Merchandising Assistant in the Hardgoods Components division.

How often do you ride to work?

Most days.

How far do you ride?

17 miles each way.

What bike do you ride?

I usually commute on my trusty GT Peace Tour.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I love not being in a car. Cagers (people who spend half of their lives in their steel cages) are always so angry, I like not being a part of that culture. I race in endurance mountain bike events so the extra training time that I don’t have to take from my family time is also key.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Just go for it! For me, I can’t value my waterproof panniers enough (I use Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers). I also always keep a good rain jacket in there as I never know when I’m going to be caught in an unexpected storm. Otherwise, just riding is most of my secret. The more you do it, the easier it gets as it starts to become part of your routine and your fitness increases.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tom Vasiliauskas

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tom Vasiliauskas.

What do you do at Performance?

Merchandising Manager.

How often do you ride to work?

About once a week.

How far do you ride?

22 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

Scattante Five-Sixty frame, from 2008 I believe (this is a popular bike for commuters here, but for 2011 it’s called the X-570).

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I ride for several reasons: to get some additional riding in during my busy day, to save gas, and because it’s always a GREAT way to wake up in the morning. I love riding with lights during sunrise.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

I recommend using at least 2 tail lights for additional safety.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: David Wilkes

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

David Wilkes.

What do you do at Performance?

Web Developer.

How often do you ride to work?

Every day that ends in “Y”.

How far do you ride?

1 mile, thus the answer to the previous question. I mean does it really make sense to get in a car to go 1 mile?

What bike do you ride?

I ride my Scattante X-560 cyclocross bike (the 2011 model is the X-570).

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I live way too close to drive! Plus it’s just great to get outside and be on the bike.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Pack extra socks especially on rainy and wet days.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: John Buleza

Since today is the first day of Bike to Work Week (May16-20), we thought it was the perfect time to start a series of Employee Profiles about a few of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

John Buleza.

What do you do at Performance?

Vice President of Direct Marketing.

How often do you ride to work?

Usually 2-3 days a week.

How far do you ride?

9 miles each way.

What bike do you ride?

Fuji Roubaix ACR 2.0 road bike.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I ride for fitness, to do my part for the environment, and for the gas savings!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Take a trial run on a weekend to make sure that you’re comfortable with the route and to see how long it takes you to ride. Then start one day a week and build up to riding one more day, and then another, and then another…. Also, plan ahead to make your commute easier – bring in clothing/food on “off” days when you aren’t riding to work.

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