Riding bikes has long been a cherished pastime among children and now a new company called Phantom Frames is making that experience more interesting than ever. In autumn of 2015, Phantom Frames announced its release of patented internally illuminated polycarbonate bicycles. This is the first kids’ bike molded from clear plastic with LED lights mounted INSIDE the frame. In other words, the bike lights up as kids ride it.
Mass production of the first model, a balance bike, is well underway with initial shipments planned by December 2015. This model will be available in 5 different light colors, including both flashing and constant LED options, and consumers can directly purchase at the Phantom Frames website. Provided that the first installation is a success, the company intends to follow up in early 2016 with 12” pedal, tricycle, and 16” pedal models.
According to a Phantom Frames representative, “Our product originated when the founder’s 6 year old son, fascinated with flashing lights, asked why his entire bicycle could not “light up”. What a cool idea! Not wanting to disappoint, we set out to develop a transparent frame with internal illumination. Many designs and prototypes later, we arrived at a winning combination. A frame design that has excellent strength, light transmission, and can be manufactured in high volumes. Our balance bicycle has passed the required Consumer Product Safety testing as well as some additional ISO and ASTM testing performed by an outside lab.”
Forrest Smith is the General Manager and Founder of Phantom Frames. The married father of two sons, Forrest was born and raised on Long Island and went on to graduate from NYU and subsequently held management jobs in the plastics and packaging industry. He counts Jui Jitsu and dirt biking as hobbies–making his interest in illuminated bikes even more understandable. Recently, Forrest spoke to the Examiner about the company and his hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when was Phantom Frame started and why was that name chosen?
Forrest Smith (F.S.): I started working on the bikes at the beginning of 2011. Phantom was chosen as a mix between something “glowing” and a fighter plane. We listed a bunch of words and that mix ended up sticking.
M.M.: You produce lighted bikes. For what ages are your bikes most recommended?
F.S.: The balance bike is our first model and is for ages 2-4 years (depending on the child).
M.M.: Aside from bikes, do you plan to expand to other products eventually?
F.S.: We have been considering other “frame based” vehicles as that is what our patent covers; jogging strollers, scooters, trikes, all in consideration.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving working with Phantom Frame?
F.S.: The reaction from my son and other kids. Of course my son is past the age of interest now but when he was 6, he thought it was awesome.
M.M.: Where do you hope Phantom Frame will be ten years from now?
F.S.: Shipping bikes worldwide! It’s a big market.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a product designer?
F.S.: Persist. Expect failures, just prepare your alternatives in advance and the failures are not difficult to overcome.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
F.S.: We are also working on 12″ pedal, 16″ pedal, and tricycle models to be released in 2016.
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Phantom Frames Inc.: Phantom Frames is a design company based in Santa Ana, California. Founded in 2011, the company has developed and patented a line of internally illuminated frame based vehicles. To learn more, visit the official website.