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Light review: Portland Design Works' Aether Demon and Spaceship/RADBOT combo

Posted by Nicholas Von Pless (Contributor) on February 19th, 2014 at 10:03 am

Just part of PDW's large family of lights.

— Note from the Publisher: Please join me in welcoming Nicholas Von Pless and Alana Harris to the BikePortland team. Regular readers know that this site does not review products very often. That's something I've been wanting to change for a long time, and Nicholas and Alana are going to help finally make it happen. Stay tuned as we post more reviews and fine-tune the format to make these as readable and useful as possible. Email feedback to jonathan@bikeportland.org. Thanks for reading. — Jonathan

Portland Design Works (known as PDW around here) launched in 2008 and they've grown up a lot since then. The ownership duo of Erik Olson and Dan Powell have carved a comfortable niche in a very crowded accessory market by focusing on quality design, attention to detail, and creative twists on seemingly mundane products. Today we'll take a closer look at three of their popular light models: the Spaceship 3 head light and the Aether Demon and RADBOT 500 tail lights.

Aether Demon tail light - reviewed by Alana Harris

Details:
  • Product website
  • USB rechargeable
  • Price: $49
  • 0.5 watt LED
  • Available at local bike shops

Need proof that good things come in small packages? PDW's Aether Demon tail light will cast behind you an intense halo of protective light with its four powerful settings, so you can have a safe journey on the road. While it looks similar on the surface to other lights on the market, the Aether Demon has some nice touches that make it easy-to-use and easy on the environment.

When I first received the Aether Demon, I noticed its relative lightness compared with other lights I’ve used. This is due in part because the Aether Demon doesn’t require your typical set of triple or double "A" batteries, and instead can be plugged into your computer with a USB cord, included, to recharge its compact, lithium-ion battery. This feature got rid of two worries of mine that usually apply to bike lights: having to carry around spare, disposable batteries, and having to then worry about recycling the countless used batteries that typically pile up in my junk drawer. (Eliminating this weight also makes this light a more viable option for use on your helmet, if that’s what you’re looking for.)

(Photo: PDW)

The feature I find most rewarding, however, is the fact that the Aether Demon will remember which mode you were last using when you turn it on so that you’ll no longer have to cycle through all the light settings to get to the one you were just using. Similarly, you won’t have to repeat this process in turning it off; the Aether Demon shuts down just like your phone, by holding its power button for a couple seconds. You can choose from a standard, solid red light stance, to an erratic flashing that demands the attention of other travelers on your road. Pick the less intense blinking setting to save battery life, or go with the "Group Ride" option that won’t blind or distract your fellow cyclists, while still alerting others around you to your position.

This LED light charges in under 3 hours, and in its most powerful setting lasted me around 7-8 hours before signaling the need for a recharge; a blinking, blue light turns solid when the battery has again reached full capacity after being plugged in. Using this 0.5 watt light as I pedaled home on some busy streets that make up part of my daily commute truly eased my mind as cars whizzed by on a typical rainy and dark winter evening. The Aether Demon definitely works to ward off on-coming traffic, which is a priceless virtue that a great, local company has made available for the very reasonable price of $49.

Spaceship 3/RADBOT 500 Combo - reviewed by Nicholas Von Pless

Details:
  • Product website
  • Price: $49 for the combo
  • Batteries included
  • Available at local bike shops

After I picked up these lights I was excited to get to work on a review; but after installing them I went on a ride and thought, now what? What do I write about a tail light that I can’t even see? Are the lights automatically good if I avoid collisions?

Fortunately, our winter weather has been a great testing ground. I have ridden this light in thick fog, snow, and of course it's been dark and grey most of the time.

Upon first unleashing the RADBOT 500 (tail light) from its minimal packaging (definitely a plus), I was pleased to find that it easily slid onto my existing generic mount. However, I struggled with the flexible mount for the Spaceship 3 front light. I should have taken a cue from the lack of packaging to check PDW’s website, which has PDF instructions to go with every light. Nonetheless, the flexible mount resulted in being one notch too short or too long. Despite the fit not being perfect, I’ve found that I like how the mount retains flexibility for different needs – downward for low visibility, and outward to alert drivers.

(Photo: PDW)

The Spaceship 3 has provided an experience that has been nearly out of this world (ha ha). I’ve historically gone with a cheapo light that costs $8 with an $8 battery, but even compared to high-powered lights used by friends, Spaceship 3 outshined anything else I’ve seen so far. In steady mode, the 'ship’s beam lit up every street sign, and I could read every street name without slowing down and squinting. Pointing at the ground, the trio of powerful LEDs clearly marked my course. This was extremely helpful when finding a smooth path in the snow, biking at night along the Springwater or near PIR, or making my space known when joining a Midnight Mystery Ride.

The RADBOT 500 comes with 2 lighting patterns that are brilliant and unique, so I felt confident and safe while riding. The RADBOT also comes with a "Euro reflector" for added safety. The power button, which you hold for a second, remembers your last setting.

As a combo, these lights both offer sleek and sturdy design, especially with RADBOT 500 boasting see-through packaging. And maybe this is silly, but a huge perk of both lights are the buttons! I mean, they feel like real buttons on real electronics. It’s not rubbery feeling, it doesn’t feel like a toy, and I’m not afraid of accidentally turning them on and running out the battery. At $49 for the both, this combo makes a lot of sense.

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Comments
  • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 19, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Pleased to see that Bike Portland will be adding reviews! I'm a Portland resident and have been blogging bike light reviews for a couple years now. I just launched a dedicated bike light resources website last week: The Bike Light Database. Feel free to check out my reviews and let me know if there's any resources I can provide or questions you might have.

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  • Lazlo February 19, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Love PDW. I got the Spaceship/Radbot 1000 combo at The Clymb for something like $49.

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  • colton February 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

    What's a "Euro reflector" and why did you feel it made you safer?

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    • mark February 19, 2014 at 11:19 am

      It is the highest standard of reflector requirement in the world and Germany (and many EU countries) requires this type reflector on all bikes to be sold or ridden on their roads. The US does not require such a high quality reflector. Since the EU reflector is much higher quality reflector over US standards and is a benefit if your tail light runs out of power... then you'll still have a high powered reflector for safety on the roads.

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  • Bill Walters February 19, 2014 at 11:10 am

    In general shape and size, these look a lot like certain well-established Planet Bike offerings. Is that coincidence, or do they maybe originate from the same contracted manufacturer(s)?

    Also, some metrics would be a bonus: light output and maybe strobe rate at the various settings, both perceived in side-by-side comparison (video?) with Planet Bike, Cat Eye and others at or near the price point, and in lumens/candlepower claimed by the companies.

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    • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 19, 2014 at 11:20 am

      PDW was started by some folks who used to work for Planet Bike. They also use the same mounting hardware.

      I have some brightness comparisons on the taillights posted here, but it's a lot harder to measure brightness on headlights because the beam shapes are all so different. For headlights it's often more useful to see a photo of the beam, to compare where the light goes (not just how much there is). You can see my beamshots comparison for some lights, although I haven't gotten to test any PDW lights in person yet.

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  • spare_wheel February 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

    They really need to upgrade their leds. 2 watt tail lights are basically the de facto standard now.

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  • joel February 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

    so...
    pdw is kind of behind the times as far as lights. they are like ten years back in their light output. ive tested their products and they are all sub par.

    so- disreguard my persopnal feelings pdw and tell me why you are making lights? do you really feel yours are better????

    none of my friends will buy your products because your quality is low. i buy probably six sets of fornt/rear lights a year.

    - joel courier coffee portland

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    • 9watts February 19, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      "i buy probably six sets of fornt/rear lights a year."

      product obsolescence?
      phenomenal growth rate of your business?
      theft?

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      • joel February 20, 2014 at 6:48 am

        lost, staff uses them for personal use, mounting hardware failure, water damage, rechargeable battery failure (for those kinds). I dont think we have had theft yet. or we buy them to try out, and the light just never works (like whenever you go over a bump the light turns off)- so defective product. We also stock back up ready to go lights at both our shops, for staff and friends.

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  • joel February 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

    this is business. this is biking. this is nothing personal. everyone should have bike lights and i support product differentiation (if thats a word)- however i just dont understand the motive behind pdw.

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  • johnny February 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    thank you for having these really useful reviews now as they are very useful. I would be curious how the Spaceship 3 holds out when riding over rumble patches, gravel roads, or any shaky terrain as in does the whole light ensemble turn upside down or move about?

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  • joel February 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    just talked on the phone w pdw- itseems like they are woriking on the best

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  • Jon February 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I dislike bike lights with integral batteries. I have found rechargeable AA batteries to last longer than the integrated batteries in lights. I have never had to throw away a light that uses rechargeable, replaceable AA or AAA batteries but I have thrown out a handful of lights with integrated batteries when the battery failed.

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    • Chris I February 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Bingo. If there is a benefit to integrated batteries, it is that they allow for a slightly more compact, lighter design. This is minor, however, and I think the advantage of re-moveable, standardized rechargeable batteries outweigh it. I take issue with this review in that it discounts a design that utilizes standard battery sizes. High quality rechargeable batteries are cheap, easy to use, and are readily available. Anyone that is environmentally conscious should be using them for all devices.

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      • wsbob February 20, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        "...High quality rechargeable batteries are cheap, easy to use, and are readily available. ..." Chris I

        Fine for you. I think the result, in general, of time and effort involved in keeping them charged up: removing the batteries, checking for neg/positive, correctly putting them in the charger, removing them from the charger and putting them back in the light housing...is people often not using bike lights at all, or letting the batteries drain down to where they hardly display any illumination at all.

        Being able to consistently maintain good light brightness, simply by plugging an integrated bike light into a computer USB port or charger, eliminates one hassle that keeps people from using lights that help visibility.

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        • Pete February 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

          Good points on both sides. Apple now has a patent on an idea I had eons ago, which is simply a 'power bus' for electronic bike computers, lights... shifters, cameras, etc. Being able to charge the growing number of battery-powered bike devices from one battery (inside the seat tube, preferably) and USB plugin would make things simple and ideal (from a user perspective anyway).

          Recently I built up a Di2 bike and put up hooks to hang it in the garage. By coincidence there's a power outlet nearby so I installed a switch and 2.1A receptacle with two USB charging ports, so I can plug in both Di2 and my Garmin when I hang the bike. (Being a geek and all I'm tempted to also install an Addonics WiFi NAS adapter nearby so the Garmin will not only charge but show up on my network without taking it off the bike).

          Oh, I've been using the Radbot 1000 for about four years now. It's the brightest rear light I've seen and I've had a few other riders ask me what brand it is. It seems better on battery life than other lights I've had in the past, and IIRC I had to pay a little more for it than Cat Eye, etc, but it's paid for itself. No experience with other PDW products tho.

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    • 9watts February 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Not to mention the fact that lithium isn't exactly lying around everywhere for the taking. Chile's Atacama desert is not exactly around the corner.

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      • Case February 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

        It's just floating around in the waters of Ashland, OR. Enjoy some from the fountain on your way into the aptly named Lithia Park.

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    • Ben February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

      There are plenty of lights that use a regulated circuit that have a step down program. It lowers the output to accommodate lower battery voltage for emergency use; it won't just go from 100% brightness to 0%.

      As for for the head lights, every time I go out and try some new light, I am usually pretty disappointed about the the lights. Poor build quality, pitiful brightness, cost/performance ratio, no lock-out switch, cheap LEDs, cool white tint, rarely OTF/ANSI lumen ratings and IP waterproof ratings.
      As I see it, bicycle marketed lights are over priced and most decent flashlights will do much better and cost a lot less.

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      • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        Some manufacturers are starting to improve on many of the factors you mention. Light and Motion has led the way with ANSI testing for lumen ratings, and is encouraging other manufacturers to test their lights to the ANSI FL1 standard. Serfas now tests their lights with an integrating sphere, but hasn't done the full FL1 testing. The FL1 standard was developed by the flashlight industry, and includes brightness, water resistance, burn time, and drop tests. NiteRider and Light and Motion both have lock-out switches on most of their lights now, too.

        There are definitely many improvements left to make, but there has been good progress in the bike light industry, and I expect there will be an increase in manufacturers doing the proper tests to prove their spec claims.

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  • GlowBoy February 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Only 8 hours on a charge? That means I'd have to plug the Aether Demon in once or even twice a week to recharge it. That's completely unacceptable; I have multiple lights on my bike, and I'm not willing to juggle recharging them all on a rotating schedule. Poor battery life is one of the main reasons I've never bought a light from PDW. Some of PDW's lights are brighter than the standard-bearing Planet Bike SuperFlash, but I'm not convinced that's necessary or even appropriate, and it's certainly not worth it for the tradeoff in battery life. The SuperFlash's 0.5W LED is still pretty dang bright, and I can ride for a month without recharging.

    Notice I said "recharging" my SuperFlash, and by that I mean the batteries in it. There's no need to use - and throw away - disposable batteries! Most AA and AAA battery powered lights work just fine on NiMH rechargeables. These batteries are just a dollar or two each, and (unlike built-in Li-Ions) can be easily replaced if they eventually do lose capacity after a few years of heavy use. They also weigh about half as much as alkalines, if you're going to be a weight weenie about your taillights, and they're a lot more environmentally benign than Lithium-ions if you're trying to be eco-friendly about them.

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    • wsbob February 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      "...Most AA and AAA battery powered lights work just fine on NiMH rechargeables. ... ..."...and they're a lot more environmentally benign than Lithium-ions if you're trying to be eco-friendly about them." GlowBoy

      Bike lights with litium-ion batteries integrated into housings with a USB port, allowing them to be recharged without taking the batteries out of the light housing, is a significant part of what makes such lights more practical for many people to use and maintain than bike lights not having these features.

      If none do already, some bike light manufacturers could consider producing a NiMH rechargeable integrated bike light with a USB port.

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      • Pete February 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        I've used NiteRider's headlights for years; actually I use them a LOT as convenience lights working in the attic/crawlspace, etc. They're not cheap though, but a good cooling design is also a factor that's often overlooked in cheaper LED flashlights. The 150 I had was good, but I think a contractor stole it. I replaced it with the 650 which is not only brighter but they went to a newer NiMH battery (and microUSB port from the older 'B' size). Newer NiMH batteries don't have the 'memory buildup' problems of the older ones so you can plug them in whenever instead of waiting until they run down in order to improve longevity.

        Also I've tested samples of rechargeable AAAA batteries (smaller than AAA) from an electronics manufacturer; just haven't seen them in use yet. As with many electric toothbrushes, you can actually replace the 'non-replaceable' batteries if you have a decent soldering gun and proclivity to experiment.

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      • GlowBoy February 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        I don't disagree that USB charging may be more convenient for many people; I was more responding to the assertion at the top of the story that replaceable batteries = disposable batteries.

        Personally, I'd still rather take the batteries out of my SuperFlash and charge it once every 4-6 weeks, versus having to plug in a USB-charged light twice a week.

        Especially since I have multiple lights on my bike and helmet: a burn time in the single digits means that almost every night I would have at least one light that's running low on charge and needs to be plugged in.

        That's the opposite direction of where I'm trying to go, which is towards fewer switches to hit every time I get on and off the bike, and fewer/less frequent rechargings.

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    • Nick Skaggs February 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Can we shift this discussion over to dynamo lighting systems? Let's avoid batteries altogether and put those legs to work! (They're already working, after all.)

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  • GlowBoy February 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I should add that I do like designs with built-in reflectors. When a motorist's headlights are shining directly on you, reflectors kick back a ton of light - often more than the light itself - and increase the apparent size of the light.

    Also, reflectors still work even when your batteries have worn down.

    And finally, rear reflectors are required by law (contrary to popular belief, rear lights are not required, nor are they a legal substitute for reflectors). One less reason for a bike-unfriendly cop to pick on you.

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    • Alex February 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      They actually are a legal substitute for a rear reflector.

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    • spare_wheel February 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      in OR a rear reflector is not required if you have a rear tail light.

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      • GlowBoy February 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

        I stand corrected. A rear light is a legal substitute for a rear reflector (as long as the batteries haven't run down).

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  • Marshall February 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    So, what is the "Group Ride" feature and how does it differ from the other modes?

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    • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Group ride mode is a very low-brightness flash mode, designed to keep you from blinding people behind you when riding in a group at night. It's a slow single-flash pattern at about 40% of the full brightness.

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  • mike February 19, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    The only thing that would make this world better is an even more saturated blinkie light market. Come on...they are red and they blink on the back of your bike. I still use the cheapo I've had for years and you can see the thing from 5 blocks away on the flat. I think it cost me a Jackson.

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    • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Bike lights have changed a lot just in the past couple years. It's true that there are a ridiculous number of options and most of them are very similar, but some key features that might make it worth looking at what's new:

      - Lights bright enough to be daylight visible
      - Integrated rechargeable batteries
      - More lights have regulated circuits, meaning they don't dim as the batteries drain
      - Ability to run a light in non-flashing mode and still maintain decent battery life. Many of the older "blinky" lights have a steady burn mode but quickly lose their charge.
      - Headlights have gotten much brighter
      - Some lights are starting to have better optics that cut off the light so you don't blind oncoming traffic, although in the US the acceptance of these lights has been slow

      Lights from a few years ago probably still work just fine, and you don't need to replace them, but there has been more progress in bike lights than one might think.

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      • Peejay February 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm

        I'm not a fan of the regulated circuit. The lights don't dim, but as the charge gets lower, they do something far worse: shut off completely as you're riding, without feedback. The nature of these circuits is that as they lose power, they will switch on, but not stay on. And, since they're just as bright as ever, YOU DON'T KNOW that they're about to go out. And the weird thing is, if you check your light and see it's out, you can switch it on again, and again you'll get full brightness for a few seconds, just as long as it takes to start riding with the thought that maybe the last time you forgot to turn it on, but now everything's ok. It's a terrible user feedback loop.

        With my Superflash, I knew when I needed to replace the battery. It progressively got dimmer. But even at half power, it was still bright enough for safety. And when it got to half power, I knew to replace the batteries when I got home. When I bought a PDW equivalent, several times I rode home with a dead taillight, oblivious of that fact. After a couple scares, I returned it and got another Superflash, still the best rear light for the money.

        Regulated circuits are why I won't buy another PDW light.

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        • wsbob February 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          True, integrated battery lights that maintain optimum brightness, and those with regulated circuits, do require a certain owner-road user responsibility to think about and plug them as needed. I think this little effort involved in maintaining optimum brightness, is better than peoples' visibility to other road users being diminished because people are riding around with dim lights.

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          • GlowBoy February 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm

            I'm with peejay. I think maintaining optimum brightness -- or, more specifically, optimum efficiency -- is more critical for high-powered, high-drain see-where-you're going headlights than it is for blinkies.

            If my SuperFlash is blinking a little less bright because it needs a charge soon, hey at least it's still functioning. I like that I get plenty of warning, and it's not too hard to tell once it's dimmed significantly.

            Particularly with NiMH batteries, there's not that much voltage dropoff as the batteries start to run down, so the only real benefit of regulated circuitry is to eke out maximum efficiency for high-powered lighting. Off the charger there's a brief period of 12-13% above the nominal voltage (which you need to factor into your design so you don't overdrive the LEDs), but then they maintain a pretty steady voltage through most of their burn life, dipping only by about 4% before they go off the cliff.

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            • wsbob February 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm

              Seeing the road ahead is just one of two key functions of vehicle lights. Enabling road users to be visible to each other, is the other key function.

              Because I haven't flagged them down to ask them, I don't exactly know the reasons blinkie lights some people are riding around with are so dim to the point of leaving the person and bike barely visible.

              I'm assuming the light's poor illumination is due to power reserve being down. For visibility to other road users, the tail light, as well as the headlight, should maintain a high level of illumination, however that's accomplished.

              There's an easy, affordable measure for people feeling that lights with regulated circuits may abruptly leave them without sufficient illumination to get home: Carry backups. Easy. Not a lot of extra money. Doesn't take up a lot of space, nor are they a lot weight to carry around.

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  • Nathan Hinkle (from The Bike Light Database) February 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    A valid concern for sure - I've definitely had lights just die without warning, and that is one downside of the regulated circuits.

    On the other hand, I often see people riding around with their AAA-powered SuperFlash feebly blinking, long overdue for a battery change. A regulated circuit forces you to charge up when the light needs it. People complain that a rechargeable light only lasts a few days between charges, but lithium batteries have a higher energy density than alkaline and NiMH batteries. If you were waiting 2 months before changing your batteries, then your light was probably getting pretty dim by then.

    Fortunately, many lights now have a low battery indicator, and some even have a battery level meter that warns you well in advance when the power level starts to drop. Here's a list of bike taillights with low battery warnings, for example.

    Some lights will also automatically switch to the least power-using mode when the battery drops too low. I know from experience that the Cygolite Hotshot and the PDW Aether Demon both do this, and I'm sure some other lights do too.

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  • Dan Liu February 20, 2014 at 5:47 am

    I have an older Radbot 1000 that has a *pulsing* mode that I way, way prefer over the irritating blinking/strobing mode. I've found that the blinking doesn't do much to help other bikers and drivers notice *where* you are, and this is made even worse in foggy conditions. The downside to having it just on full blast is, of course, battery life. The pulsing mode was great, but the newer PDW lights don't always have it.

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  • Ron G. February 20, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Reviews will dramatically change the flavor of BikePortland, and not in a good way. Without them, BikePortland is like the National Public Radio of bikes; with them, you risk becoming more like rest of the commercial noise out there (and I know, BP is a business, not a non-profit media group--but it doesn't feel that way).

    You'll also change the dynamic you have within the local bike community and industry. BP's hyper-local coverage has helped create a context for Oregon cyclists, one that's wonderfully inclusive. The focus on advocacy and culture brings us together. And businesses and products have long been represented on the site, but in terms of how they fit into that context, not from a purely materialistic perspective. Adding reviews will also add some tension, everything from "Why didn't we get a review?" to "Why are you trying to kill my business?" That is, unless you toss out nothing but softballs, which won't earn you many points with readers.

    On that point, if you are going to go down this path, you'll want a little more depth. Pretty much any bike shop employee can tell you this isn't an accurate portrayal of the range of light options: "Even compared to high-powered lights used by friends, Spaceship 3 outshined anything else I’ve seen so far." Then he hasn't seen much, because there are bike lights out there which will outshine an Audi. Even in the stand-alone, no external battery category, the Spaceship 3 is known for its value, not its output.

    If you're going to do reviews, you'll have to face the fact that, even if they come from Portland, some things suck. When you're writing about the Columbia River Crossing or potholes in bike lanes, that's just fine. When you're writing about products your friends and neighbors are introducing to try and build an even more vibrant local bike community, things could get ugly.

    Anyway, keep up the excellent work otherwise. I wouldn't take the time to comment if I didn't think BikePortland is such a valuable resource.

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    • wsbob February 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      "...And businesses and products have long been represented on the site, but in terms of how they fit into that context, not from a purely materialistic perspective. ..." Ron G.

      With "...purely materialistic perspective...", I'm not sure what you're saying. Basic bike lights consisting of headlight and tail light, are safety equipment, rather than superficial materialistic possessions. In the context of safety equipment, reviews of bike equipment such as some types of bike lights, seems like a good idea for bikeportland.

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      • Ron G. February 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm

        @wsbob: I'm not saying I think lights are a superficial materialistic desire. I'm saying that BikePortland has a history of looking at the bigger picture regarding businesses and products, not just at the nuts and bolts.

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  • drew February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

    PBW makes nice accessories. I have one of their cup holders.
    Most folks consider bicycle lights as accessories. Most people also consider bikes as toys or recreation equipment.

    Imagine if I had to clamp on the lights to my car when I went for a drive. Perhaps I wouldn't need them if I got home before dark? Will they have enough power for the length of the trip? Will the charge hold in freezing weather?

    When you buy a car you don't have to decide if you want reliable lights. That decision is made for you. They are not an accessory.

    I have used generator lights for decades. I have shepherded many other riders home with them, when their batteries died.

    Today you can buy LED generator light setup that allow you to see very well, and be seen. All the time, period. Set the bike up and ride, the lights are always on when you ride, and 4 minutes after you stop. Go in a tunnel; enter a fogbank, ride under the stars, whatever, you will always be able to see and be seen.

    Bike manufacturers know you think bikes are toys, so they don't integrate generator lights in most of their bikes. Since you know better, you need to proactively have them installed on your bike.

    I really hope this clamp-on battery light thing goes away soon. Emergency blinker modes confuse and irritate. A steady red taillight is easier for oncoming traffic to know you position. Battery headlights blazing into oncoming traffic is unhelpful on so many levels. Quality low beam LED headlights are available from Germany (Edelux, Supernova). Germany has bicycle lighting regulations. They do not consider bicycles to be toys. I hope that someday our country will learn from them.

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  • John Lascurettes February 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Go dyno or go home.

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