Contrail Turns Your Bike into a Paintbrush

The Contrail bike accessory draws colorful lines of chalking fluid on asphalt behind your bike-producing some literal street art and promoting safety.

When the Brooklyn-based designers Pepin Gelardi and Teresa Herrmann entered a competition to design a bike accessory that would draw new cyclists, they began by examining the reasons people avoided riding. “The number one barrier to entry was that people felt unsafe and outnumbered by cars,” Gelardi says. “We wanted to create a device that proved to potential cyclists that a community exists.”

Figuring that a simple way to extol that community was to literally chart its crisscrossing paths, the pair came up with Contrail, a receptacle filled with colorful chalking fluid that attaches to a bicycle’s frame and leaves a bright line in the rider’s wake. “It turns your bike into a paintbrush,” says Gelardi, explaining that the rear-wheel action powers the device’s pump. In the aggregate, the effect—which the pair recently showcased at Los Angeles’s Opportunity Green conference—is striking and sweet: a grosgrain of distinct but weaving lines that seems to point up the cycling (and the urban) experience. It is also low-impact. The fluid is nontoxic and washes off within a few days.


Gelardi and Herrmann are currently fundraising to make Contrail publicly available. For the pair, its conceptual purpose is augmented by practical possibilities: As a safety device for groups, as a way to stamp the road on fundraising rides, and more. “The path [at Opportunity Green] sparked a lot of creative discussion,” Herrmann says. “‘This would be great for my kid's tricycle ride’ or ‘This would be great to lead a marathon with!’”

An up-close look at the device.

Here's the final product.

Learn how you can support Contrail at its Kickstarter page.

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