For some, the idea of creating an integrated tail light should be fairly simple and quick, right? I mean c’mon, how hard can it be to crack open an OEM tail light, throw some extra “yellow” LEDs in it, and call it a day, right?! WRONG!! The entire process, for us at least, is a lot more involved than most people would realize, so we’re here today to shed some light on a rather unknown industry and what it takes to create these products with 4 major steps.
When we have a product listed as “In Design” that means one thing and one thing only – it’s in design. Out of the 4 stages, this is one of the more important stages as it means we’re toying with design ideas, monitoring bike sales, and trying to secure a local model on which to test. There are several contributing factors that we take into consideration during the design phase and those factors can make or break our willingness to design an integrated tail light. With a team of 3 engineers, we take on a workload that involves all engineers designing their own “rough drafts” of a tail light they’d like to offer and our entire team gets to vote on the top 2-3 designs. Using LED layouts, bike design cues, and the available “real-estate” in the capsule, there are some limitations during the true design phase; but overall, we start from the ground up and design something unlike anything else on the market. This process is also one of the more time-consuming ones as it’s 70% brainstorming, 20% testing, and 10% making sure it works and flows with the bike. Once we’ve wrapped the design phase up we move into the “In Development” stage. This is where the fun begins.
If a tail light ad is still listed on our website and now says “In Development“, that means we’ve committed fully to designing and offering a tail light for “X” model and will begin turning our ideas from the previous phase into a reality. There have been, and will continue to be, cases where a tail light ad goes from “In Design” and then disappears. This means that at least one or more contributing factors led to us scrapping the idea and not continuing. The main cause of this is usually poor bike sales for that particular model. Once a project makes it to the development phase, we fire up the 3D printers and begin testing prototypes. Though premature in the entire scope of this project, this process is a very important step, as it allows us to physically test a design on an actual bike we have in-house. Some ideas look great in 3D design programs but horrible on the bike and vice versa, which is why this step, in particular, is one we take with extreme attention to detail. Once we have a lens design that we like, we begin improving the LED layout for the circuit board. Our goal is to not only offer a great looking and durable tail light but one that is also extremely bright. We take this into serious consideration and make sure our tail lights are always some of the brightest on the market – regardless of lens color. We’ve also begun making it a standard feature to include our various programmable modes including strobe brake, sequential signals, and pulsar brake, all of which can be accessed with a simple press of a button. This “In Development” stage also allows us to finalize initial designs and begin the mold cutting process for injection molding of our tail lights. As I mentioned earlier, we create our products from the ground up – meaning when you buy our lights, you’re buying OUR LIGHTS – not just an OEM copy with our LED technology. The entire light, made up of a TST-Exclusive circuit board, lens, and enclosure are all made to our specifications and quality. Once the cavities and cores are cut, and the mold tool package is assembled for the injection molding process, we begin manufacturing the first ever prototypes (t-zero: tooling samples Rev.zero) – WOOHOO! Our initial production prototypes are usually pretty rough – no TST logos or branding, no OEM connectors, no lens texturing. We do this to ensure our base model is exactly where it needs to be and can fit the particular bike model just as the OEM unit or better. If no issues arise during our prototype manufacturing, we go full steam ahead and begin mass producing our units; however, there are times when issues arise with the injection molding molten flow, cooling, ejection, deformation during the injection molding process, or even electronic falws. When these issues arise, we normally go back to square one to find the cause of the issue, correct it, and try it again. This can happen several times throughout the “In Development” stage, which is why this process is usually the longest. Once we have a unit that passes our initial QC process, we finalize the product with OEM connectors, lens texturing, and we’re ready to go to the next phase – COMING SOON.
We’re about 90% there and ready to take the market by storm! (With your help of course) Our “Coming Soon” phase simply means exactly that – it’s coming soon. This means that we have finalized and approved all design and manufacturing work, have approved the final manufactured prototypes, and are only waiting for the units to be received by our warehouse team. Once we receive the initial product batch (usually around 500 or so) we put them through a vigorous and extensive QC process. We check for defects and impurities within the physical unit. We connect all units up to a test bench for testing of the electronics and program modes. We even perform extended use tests which involve leaving a percentage of lights on a tester for over 24 hours continuously. For the customer, it might not seem like much is happening once “Coming Soon” is posted on a product ad, but trust us, we’re working behind the scenes around the clock to ensure your unit is perfect for use upon delivery. Additionally, this is usually when we start accepting pre-orders, take final product photos for ad purposes, and film installation videos. We will only change a product ad to this “Coming Soon” status once we are fairly confident we can fulfill orders by “X” date and have units shipped to a customer. You can see photos of a “final manufactured prototype” below. These are the last steps before going full steam ahead and usually these units are put up for road-testing.
This one is fairly self-explanatory and not much needs to be said. We’ve wrapped up this entire process and now our idea is a reality. We should have full stock in inventory and ready to ship right from our website. This also means that any special pre-order pricing is no longer valid and may result in a slight price increase. Lastly, you will be able to find commonly purchased items that go with this tail light, able to be purchased in pair with the light for a discount. This usually includes an LED Flasher Relay, Fender Eliminator Kit, and License Plate Light – making each product ad, and our website, as much of a one-stop-shop as possible!
And there you have it. A detailed breakdown of what we encounter and commit to when designing, developing, and selling an integrated tail light – from start to finish. If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop them below and also be sure to like/follow/subscribe to us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. As always, ride safe out there everyone!