Specifically, the coating is retro-reflective, which means that it reflects light directly back at its source regardless of the angle of the incoming light. Put another way, it's reflective from any direction when illuminated by a car's headlights or other source. (Or as the delightful Hub Powderworks web site puts it: "Retro-reflectivity: Magic Disguised as Physics.") Read: Awesome night-time visibility.
|Magic disguised as physics. Photo: Hub Powderworks.|
The coating is also different—and considerably more durable—than something you simply paint on. Instead it's sprayed on the frame as electrostatically charged powder particles which are then baked into the frame itself in an oven. The result is a very tough and durable coating ("Industrial Strength = Wicked Strong").
Developed by Halo Coatings for highway and mining applications, the coating is currently only licensed for application to bicycles by one vendor: Hub Powderworks. The company has even given it a suitable Boston name—Zakim Gray—in honor of the city's nearby Zakim Bridge.
Drool factor does meet reality check, however. It's an expensive process ($329 local, $419 shipped), requires you (or your bike shop) to disassemble the bike down to its frame, and you have to get it to Hub Powderworks by shipping it or dropping it off directly. It's also no substitute for bike lights, front and back, which are legally required in many areas.
For the serious urban cyclist or bike commuter, however, or for anyone seeking to seriously up their night-time cycling safety (read: me on both counts), it sure is tempting.
For more on this young start-up company, check out this recent Boston Globe article.
Support your Northeast gear companies! This post is part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies. Here are the 27 companies I've profiled to date:
- Shoefitr (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
- WoolX (Endicott, N.Y.)
- Minus33 (Ashland, N.H.)
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear (Biddeford, Maine)
- Peterboro Baskets (Peterborough, N.H.)
- Princeton Tec (Bordentown, N.J.)
- Worksman Cycles (Queens, N.Y.)
- Wild Things (North Conway, N.H.)
- Hubbard Blueberry Rakes (Jonesport, Maine)
- Vargo Outdoors (Lewisburg, Pa.)
- Evelo Electric Bicycles (New York, N.Y.)
- We-Flashy (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
- Equinox Gear (Williamsport, Pa.)
- Crazeeheads (Port Washington, N.Y.)
- Stephenson's Warmlite (Gilford, N.H.)
- Sterling Rope (Biddeford, Maine)
- New Balance (Boston, Mass.)
- Noble Biomaterials (Scranton, Pa.)
- STABILicers (Biddeford, Maine)
- Darn Tough Socks (Northfield, Vt.)
- Dermatone Sunscreen (Windsor, Ct.)
- Orion Signal and Survival Products (Easton, Md.)
- Nemo Equipment (Manchester, N.H.)
- New England Ropes (Fall River, Mass.)
- Jetboil (Manchester, N.H.)
- Ibex Outdoor Clothing (White River Junction, Vt.)
- Delorme (Yarmouth, Maine)