April 14, 2016 at 10:37 am #12126
Rank: 1200cc Rider
- Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV
John Henry, founder and CEO of Heads Up Breaking System, which illuminates the bike and riders helmet when the motorcycle is decelerating or the brake applied, and also when the rider separates from the motorcycle, even if the engine isn’t running.
The drive to develop a unique wireless safety brake lighting system for motorcyclists was sparked when a US Army veteran witnessed a bad accident nearly 20 years ago.’
Since then avid motorcycle rider John J Henry and his wife, Julie, have invested US$1.3 million in cash and time to develop, patent and manufacture a product that is being hailed as a innovative safety breakthrough.
Henry, 60, who was a radio operator in the army 40 years ago, has always demonstrated a knack for electronics but describes himself as an “engineer’s nightmare”.
“I know just enough because of my electronics background to know what you can and can’t do. I wanted to make sure that this product wasn’t just a third brake light. It has other features that I knew would be of value.”
The 1997 accident occurred when a trailing motorcyclist struck a lead bike, which was decelerating but did not trigger the brake lights. They only work when the brakes are tapped. Both riders were seriously injured. And there have been other accidents in which a rider at night was struck and killed after leaving the lights-on motorcycle. Car drivers, including some who pulled over to help, didn’t see the driver who had separated from the bike.
Henry’s simple-to-install Heads-Up Braking (HUB) System illuminates the bike and helmet with “smart illumination” technology that glows when the motorcycle is decelerating or the brake applied, and also when the rider separates from the motorcycle, even if the engine isn’t running.
“I really am convinced John has a solid market opportunity,” said Dan Cook, president of OPS America, a contract engineering and operations firm that helped Henry get the Heads-Up system engineered, designed and manufactured. “He’s a great guy. He’s got patent protection, and he’s been very methodical.
“He’s probably the biggest perfectionist and most adamant customer about what his product will do. And this product does what he wanted. It turned out to be more sophisticated than any product we’d worked on before. He’s not compromising. We got everything dialed in to his satisfaction. The product also works for snowmobiles and ATVs.”
The challenge now for Henry is to generate excitement in the marketplace. And he doesn’t have much budget for that. It was introduced at retail and on at headsupbraking.com several months ago at an introductory price of US$259.
“It’s a great product but trying to get the customer to buy it so far is another thing,” said Randy DuPaul, owner of Dr Mudspringer, a motorcycle retailer in suburban Minneapolis who carries the HUB product. “A lot of motorcycle folks don’t think enough about safety.
“But it’s a great product, and I stand behind it 100 per cent. It’s real technological and safety advancement.
“And it has proximity-sensing feature so when you get away from the motorcycle the helmet lights on its own. It also works while the motorcycle is on a trailer [and not running]. Nobody has anything close to this. John’s heart and soul is in this. And the time, effort and money he and his wife have put into this is phenomenal. I’m rooting for them.”
Henry relishes the recognition as a safety pioneer. But that doesn’t guarantee marketing success. He’s looking for a distributor.
“I think I’m on the front edge of a new safety technology,” Henry said. “Now we’ve got to get this product rolling.”
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