The Aster Cycling Backpack Makes You Look Like A Moving Christmas Tree

The Aster Cycling Backpack Makes You Look Like A Moving Christmas Tree

A company based in India, Arrow Electronics, has designed a cycling backpack focused on traffic safety. It comes with brake lights, indicators and shoulder strap lights. But wait, there’s more…


The Flash electric bicycle seems like an awesome product, but you don’t want to throw away your trusty 60 year old cruiser, Betsy. It’s an heirloom. Your grandfather cycled into your country of birth on her.

You’ll upgrade Betsy with the UrbaNext motorised wheel.

But the UrbaNext doesn’t come with sweet built-in lights (standard on the Flash). You’ll need to do something about night-time visibility.

You could buy some torches and strap them to your body in strategic places. Or you could smear yourself with luminous paint and tan while the sun is out, to prep for night-time cycling.

You could even opt for a boring handlebar mounted light and a set of indicators.

Or you could get the Aster backpack, which comes with integrated lights.

Let’s take a closer look…

Great visibility

The Aster’s main USP is the visibility it affords cyclists.

It comes with a rear light, indicators, a brake light, side profile lights and front lights.

Arrow claims it shines at 38 lumens, with 250 metres of visibility.

You wear the Aster, you look like a moving Christmas tree. People can’t miss you.

Jingle all the way…

The Aster contains indicator lights that turn on via a device you mount to your handlebar
The Aster contains indicator lights that turn on via a device you mount to your handlebar.

The queer name for the Aster’s strap lights

Lumos named the lights on the shoulder straps the door-me-not lights.

That’s an odd name.

One of the sentences from their Indiegogo campaign reads: “Front lights in action, best for visibility in rear view mirrors.”

This refers to the shoulder strap lights.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but for someone to see you riding in their rear-view mirror, they’d need to pass you first.

Unless they’re driving towards you in reverse.

Doesn’t matter how people drive in your part of the world, they’ll notice you when you wear the Aster.

The lights on the Aster's shoulder straps are called door-me-not lights
The lights on the Aster’s shoulder straps are called door-me-not lights.

Features

The Aster has the following commuter-directed features:

  • detachable shoe bag
  • helmet holder
  • ICE slot
  • rain cover
  • tuck-away U-lock holder loops
  • whistle buckle
  • zippered bottle pocket
The Aster comes with commuter specific features
The Aster comes with commuter specific features.

Battery info

Here’s a problem.

On their website and on their Indiegogo campaign page they show Aster images with specs, one being the battery size.

One image says the bag contains a 4,000 mAh battery, while the other says it contains an 8,000 mAh battery.

Here are the original images…

The image from their Indiegogo campaign says the Aster contains a 8,000 mAh battery
The image from their Indiegogo campaign says the Aster contains an 8,000 mAh battery.
The image from their website says the Aster contains a 4,000 mAh battery
The image from their website says the Aster contains a 4,000 mAh battery.

I don’t like this sort of misinformation. Not sure if it’s intentional.

And I can’t tell you which is true.

Battery life

Their Indiegogo campaign says you can expect up to 15 hours of battery life.

That’s a decent amount of traffic dodging.

Charging time

I couldn’t find info about charging time, not on their website or on their Indiegogo campaign page.

Storage

The Aster comes in two sizes:

  • 18 L
  • 24 L

The 18 L backpack handles a 14 inch laptop. The 24 L handles a 15.6 inch laptop.

Their website states that the Aster can take the following:

  • 1 litre water bottle
  • 15.6 inch laptop (with charger)
  • bike spares and tools
  • books
  • change of clothes
  • lunch
  • rain jacket
  • shoes
  • small gadgets

I assume this is the 24 L model.

The Aster comes with plenty of pack space
The Aster comes with plenty of pack space.

Handlebar unit

The Aster comes with a wireless unit, called the Sidekick, that attaches to your bike’s handlebar. The Sidekick connects to the Aster (and the Aster mobile app) via Bluetooth.

You use the Sidekick to control the Aster’s indicator lights. The Sidekick also detects deceleration and switches on the brake lights.

You can switch on the Aster’s lights from the Sidekick, without using the mobile app.

Aster backpack handlebar sidekick
Aster backpack handlebar sidekick. This picture is from their website.
Aster backpack handlebar sidekick
Aster backpack handlebar sidekick. This image is from their Indiegogo campaign page.

Crash sensor

If you’re in a high impact crash, the Sidekick triggers a buzz on your phone. The app opens up with a question: “Are you OK?”

If you don’t respond via the app or the Sidekick, the app sends a message to your emergency contact.

You can configure the time you’d like the app to wait before it sends the message, or disable the feature.

If you don't respond after a high impact crash, the sidekick alerts the Aster phone app, which alerts someone that you're not responding
If you don’t respond after a high impact crash, the sidekick alerts the Aster phone app, which alerts one of your contacts.

Aster mobile app

The free Aster mobile app lets you control the Aster’s lights, sends low-battery alerts and offers anti-theft protection features.

It connects to the Sidekick and backpack via bluetooth.

Weather resistance

The Aster’s exterior is coated with a waterproof TPU layer and zippers are rain resistant too.

Water beads and rolls off the Aster.

The waterproof coating enables easy cleaning of the backpack too.

Arrow advises the use of a rain cover when it pours, since rain from heavy showers might penetrate the bag’s seams.

The Aster is water resistant
The Aster is water-resistant.

Colours

The Aster comes in two colours, inspired by blockbuster movie franchises:

  • Avatar Blue
  • Dark Knight
The Aster comes in two colour schemes, Avatar Blue and Dark Knight
The Aster comes in two colour schemes, Avatar Blue and Dark Knight.

Cost

You can pick up the Aster for as little as $149. This is 16% off retail price.

There are two other early bird options. Both are distributor packages:

  • Distributor Pack inDemand – 20
    • 20 Aster backpacks with Sidekicks
    • Cost – $1,699
      • 52% off retail
  • Distributor Pack inDemand – 50
    • 50 Aster backpacks with Sidekicks
    • Cost – $3,750
      • 58% off retail

Shipping

The Aster ships worldwide.

Shipping cost is calculated by region and added at checkout on Indiegogo.

Take into account that you might pay an added customs fee when your Aster arrives in your country.

Tech specs

Specs for the Aster cyclist backpack. Metric and Imperial.
 18 L (metric)18 L (Imperial)24 L (metric)24 L (Imperial)
ColoursAvatar Blue / Dark Knight
Breadth130mm5.12 inches150mm5.91 inches
Height450mm17.72 inches520mm20.47 inches
Laptop size capacity14 inch15.6 inch
Weight (g)900g31.75 oz1000g35.27 oz
Width (mm)300mm11.81 inches300mm11.81 inches

Final thoughts

The Aster looks like a great backpack for cyclists.

It comes in two sizes, 18 L and 24 L. The smaller one takes a 14 inch laptop, while the larger takes a 15.6 inch laptop.

The lights are impossible to miss. Motorists with good vision will see you from 250 metres, given the weather isn’t too adverse.

The indicators that work with a wireless dongle—mounted to the handlebar—is a nice touch.

If you’re a cyclist and safety is a concern, the Aster is for you.

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