We’re fans of lights, bright clothing, and anything that can help make cyclists safer and more visible. That’s why we were especially excited to hear about a new handlebar-mounted product that combines both light and sound. It’s called ORP.
ORP began as an idea in the mind of Tory Orzeck. He started a Kickstarter campaign, which has since become fully funded. The ORP product lives under the company name Torcano Industries; their website can be found HERE.
Here’s the basic idea. Combine an 87 lumen headlight with an electronic bike bell that produces 96 decibels of screamin’ noise. House it in a polycarbonate case with a flexible silicone outer shell. Power the device with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts for 3 hours with a solid light beam, or up to 15 hours in flash mode. Offer it in a variety of colors, such as this ‘Safety Cone Orange’:
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the full ORP specs.
-Light Run Times: Solid = 3 Hours; Fast Flash = 8 Hours; Slow Flash = 15 Hours
-Sounds: Friendly = 76 decibels; Loud = 96 decibels
-Weight: 89 grams
-Size: Stretches to fit handlebar diameters of 26 - 33 millimeter
-Housing: Weatherproof and Shockproof
-Colors: Glorp, Aorta Red, Snot Green, Frostbyte, Safety Cone Orange, Wail Blue, Asphalt Black
-Availability: January 2014 in select US bike shops
This image shows the basic anatomy of the ORP:
As you can see, there is a thumb lever that drives the horn (cleverly called the ‘Wail Tail’). If you press it down a little bit, it will emit a ‘friendly’ sound at 76 decibels. If you press it down further, it emits a ‘loud’ sound at 96 decibels along with a fast strobe action of the headlight.
Torcano representatives tell us that the device is intended to aid in any situation that requires a cyclist to be better seen and heard. Of particular interest to them was anything involving an automobile turning in front of a cyclist that has right-of-way, such as the ‘Right Hook’:
How did they decide how loud is ‘loud enough’? According to Torcano, their baseline sound was a motorcycle horn. They wanted to – at minimum – hit a standard that was approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
This comparison shows the decibel level of various objects that you might recognize. According to ORP, an increase of three decibels makes the noise twice as loud.
To make yourself heard, simply push down on the thumb lever, as shown in the photo below. The ORP Kickstarter page linked above has a sample video that shows how awesomely-and-annoyingly loud this thing is.
How many times can you push the sound button? How fast will it drain the battery? Torcano representatives tell us, “The piezo takes a very minimal amount of battery to operate. We've had reps using ORP for demonstration purposes for weeks without having to charge the device.”
Torcano has a list of retailers listed on their website, which is (unfortunately) not very long. We’re told that the limiting factor so far has been getting samples into the hands of their product reps, and they expect to widely expand distribution once the first shipments of product land in January. Slowtwitch will do a full test and review of the product in 2014.
We don’t have much to say aside from: This thing is cool. What we don’t yet know is whether the execution will be successful. Is it as loud as advertised? Is it sufficiently weatherproof shockproof? Is there any risk that the device is too distracting to drivers, or perhaps annoyingly loud to other cyclists? If you buy one, you’ll quickly learn whether it makes you the most loved or hated person on the group ride – but you sure won’t go unnoticed.
Torcano alerted us that, due to demand, they added a remote switch to the light ($10). It is a progressive 2-stage switch that operates both the light and horn. We're told that it can mount anywhere on a handlebar and plugs in to a port on the side of the ORP.
All images © Torcano Industries