David Hasselhoff’s influence on bike lighting

Both David Hasselhoff & Ever Ready that promoted “(K)Night Rider” in the 80s.  One was a TV series around a super advanced self driving car called KITT (with what could loosely be described as LEDs on the bonnet), the Hoff playing “Michael” aided by KITT in tackling crime and generally re-acting the same plot episode after episode.  In fact, KITT’s noises and looks are akin to a Tesla now I guess, albeit the Tesla’s self-driving technology is way behind a now 40yrs old KITT…

KITT was also around a million years ahead of the other “Night Rider”, Ever Ready’s lighting sets which presumably enjoyed a free & unexpected publicity boost because of the naming.  Those LEDs on KITT bonnet actually looked like they were visible, which was already a step up on the rear light of the unbelievably incredibly popular Ever Ready lights.

The design brief of the Ever Ready lights must have been this:

  • We are a battery maker.
  • Let’s make some lights that require batteries.
  • Let’s make some lights which after 10 minutes use, require more batteries.
  • Let’s make sure they are huge D-cell batteries, they’re heavier & more costly.

So here is what you got.  These:

The infamous Night Rider lighting set

The other key aspect of the “design” was of course the light bracket. It needed to be sturdy as those batteries & unit had may as well been made of osmium, the world’s heaviest material with twice the density of lead. But crucially, the brackets also needed to eject the lights at the hint of the merest bump, sending light crashing to ground, and if designed properly, smash the plastic light covering which you’d then sellotape together. You’d also need to cover your bike frame with tape as the rubber protection provided was both brittle and likely to move, so the lights not only cost you on batteries, sellotape & potential replacement lights, but paintwork damage.

The other key ‘feature’ was the power of the lights, during the 10 minutes of peak operation. Google the lights and people have the audacity to claim they had the power of a candle, half a candle, or the dying ember of a match, but I think they’re overstating the power. In fact, I think they were called “Night Rider” as the act of turning them on made day night or twilight even darker. They had a black hole effect on any light remaining in the environment, ensuring you definitely would not be able to see beyond the end of your exposed brake cables.

This became particularly self evident to a young “DaveyChain” as he rode home from Scouts one evening on his wonderful Raleigh Grifter XL (to no doubt become an article in itself). Dashing down the school hill, the caretaker hadn’t bothered to open both gates to the width of the road, but only open both gates half the width. No street lighting and with the carefully painted black gates, what chance did a young teenager have as the Night Riders showed the way? The way straight in to the gate naturally, bike crashing one way, and DaveyChain the other. Wrexham Maelor Hospital was the next stopping point whilst someone brought the forlorn Grifter home. Obviously the lights had both jumped out of their brackets, slightly smashed and ran out of power by the time I got back, broken finger in a splint.

So today, KITT has developed in to a kinda’ Tesla – i.e. not advanced at all in 40yrs – but bike lighting has developed hugely. Now, for £40 or so, you can have a front light hugely capable of navigating the darkest of lanes. Spend more and you’ve something which can light up things to the point that you can see their skeletal composition (whilst simultaneously blinding yet being totally invisible to some motorists). And they last. My front light lasts 5hrs or so between low & high settings before a USB recharge, my back light 50hrs. And we need them as the latest BMercaudi has the lighting set from the end of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” strapped to the bonnet, and the next Range Rover will come with an actual small sun installed – and that’s just the indicators. Main beam will be provided by a super-Nova.

Night riding has moved on somewhat

So farewell Ever Ready Night Riders. You were never ever ready, you were usually found with slowly corroding D cells eating the insides and yellowing sellotape peeling off the cracked bodies. Yet, for some reason, we fondly remember you.. And David Hasselhoff became a huge name in Germany as a singer, even singing at the Berlin New Year celebrations after the Wall came down..

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