Cyclops Adventure Sports was born from a rider’s desire to ride and race throughout the night.
Not long ago motorcyclists shared a common obstacle that limited their riding performance: darkness. A rider could only go so fast when relying on the stock headlights installed on most bikes, which wasn’t good enough for motorcycle rider and racer Darryl VanNieuwenhuise.
In 2004, Darryl had just purchased a new KTM 520 and wanted to ride his favorite trails after work when it was often dark. However, he found he could never do any aggressive riding after discovering how poorly his headlight illuminated the trails. Using his expertise as a fabricator and toolmaker, Darryl headed out to his garage and sculpted a form shaped to fit the contour of his helmet and hold a 35-watt halogen track light. He then powered the light by adding a retractable cord that attached to the battery on his new KTM. After taking his new invention out for a test run and having an “absolute blast” he instantly knew he was on to something he could really use. Darryl went back to the same trails he had ridden prior but now could ride his bike nearly as fast at night as during the daylight hours.
Darryl created another light for a buddy, and then another and another. Others noticed and they too started asking about the high-powered helmet light. Always being a bit of an entrepreneur Darryl soon realized he may have a marketable product. Cyclops Motorsports was born.
THE EARLY YEARS – 24 HOUR RACES
Darryl continued to experiment with new molds and refine his original helmet mounted light design while producing lights in small batches. His next challenge would be to spread the word about his product to more people. To do this he set out and became a regular on the 24-hour race circuit, participating in races all over the US that ran for 24 hours straight to demonstrate how his helmet light could pierce through the darkness of the night sky. To further validate the effectiveness of the helmet light Darryl and his team turned off the headlights on their bikes, using only the light attached to their helmets for visibility while racing. As Darryl’s team experienced success and placed competitively at 24 hour races, some fellow racers quickly grasped the benefit of wearing a helmet-mounted light. Others still did not “get it” and laughed at such a thing. Darryl, undeterred by the naysayers, only became more determined to expand the distribution of his product.
Making a product was one thing, but distribution was a different challenge. Darryl found it was much harder to develop a network of dealers and other distribution channels that would make the product accessible to more riders. More resources were needed to expand distribution. Darryl and his wife Sandra continued to stand behind the vision of growing Cyclops Motorsports into something bigger and agreed to make a significant investment to do so. The couple mortgaged their home and racked up more than $150,000 in credit card debt to take their business to the next level despite having 3 kids to support as well as full time jobs. Life was tough, and adding a large amount of debt and uncertainty did not make things any easier.
THE TRAVIS PASTRANA EFFECT
After several challenging years struggling to get the business off the ground Cyclops received their first big break when they were approached by team factory Suzuki. They needed a good lighting system for their star rider who was getting ready to compete in the Baja 1000. That rider happened to be none other than motorcycle legend and icon Travis Pastrana. Travis used the Cyclops helmet mounted light during the 24 hours of Glen Helen and then in the Baja 1000. He loved the light and credited its brightness and durability with helping him make it through the night portion of the race without losing any time. Travis continued to support Cyclops with unsolicited marketing, while other pro racers such as Barry Hawk, Randy Hopkins, Justin Williamson and Mike Penland started using the Cyclops light as well. Media attention followed and soon the small company was on the map.
GROWTH & INNOVATION
Darryl decided it was time to leave his job as a toolmaker and dedicate his attention to the growth of Cyclops full time. He began by expanding the product line with the introduction of adventure motorcycle LED auxiliary lights as well as developing products for snowmobiles and snowbiking, the latter a sport which Darryl helped pioneer. A commitment to quality and service were always a top priority for Darryl and Cyclops lights became to be known for extreme performance and durability.
In 2013 Cyclops started exploring LED headlight bulbs for motorcycles, working on issues that held back LED technology in a standard halogen headlight reflector. After over one year of testing the first workable LED headlight bulb in the industry was introduced with significant advancements over the standard Halogen HID lights offered by competitors at that time. Darryl’s game changing technology delivered a light with a longer lasting bulb, lower power draw and less light scatter. It also ushered in a new era of innovation and development across the motorcycle industry.
Cyclops Adventure Sports continues to innovate and develop new products. They are now on their 6th generation of LED headlight bulbs and have launched lighting products for ATVs and UTVs. Lighting kits designed specifically for select models of motorcycles have been especially popular, as these make Cyclops technologies even easier to install.
The adventure sport lighting industry has grown exponentially since Darryl bought his KTM 520 and set out to have a better night riding experience. Numerous competitors offering a range of products and quality standards have sprung up as riders desire to ride faster and safer. Cyclops plans to stay at the forefront of all this by listening to what customers have to say, offering top quality products and service, and of course, getting out and doing a lot of riding. Cyclops Adventure Sports