Tour de Lab September 1st

New, Portland-based ‘Icarus Lights’ offers custom builds

Posted by on November 4th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Made by Icarus Lights (note: light
shown is not most current design).
(Photo: Icarus Lights)

Icarus Lights is a new, Portland-based company that makes made-to-order bike lights. The company was launched just a few weeks ago by native Portlander and self-described “avid bike racer” (with Team Oregon) Pat Gerke.

I came across the Icarus website yesterday and got in touch with Pat to learn more. Pat says he started thinking about making his own lights last fall when he needed a new one and couldn’t find anything that seemed worth the price tag. “I started tinkering around and building my own lights. It grew from a curiosity to a hobby to a passion and finally to Icarus Lights.”

Over the past year, Pat says he’s researched high and low to find the best connectors, switches, optics, and designs. In true entrepreneurial and DIY spirit, Pat machines each unit by hand and solders all his own electronics at his home-based shop (a.k.a. “my kitchen table”). The anodizing and engraving are done locally and the CPU’s in his lights are built in the U.S.

Here are the product details via the Icarus Lights website:

“At the core of each light is a feather-light aluminum casing, equipped with two state-of-the-art LEDs. Emitting 700 lumens on the highest of three brightness modes, the light also has a blinking mode for increased visibility while riding in traffic. Powering the light is a diminutive battery pack, which can easily be mounted to the stem, top tube or wherever best suits you.”

A very cool thing about this company is that you can custom-build the exact light you want — from beam pattern to battery type and accessories — all online (there’s even a nifty slider tool that lets you choose the beam pattern).

Great to see another local, start-up bike company. Best of luck Pat and we’ll look forward to hearing more from you and Icarus Lights in the future.

[Believe it or not, Icarus is not the only local bike light company. Brian Engelen makes his Light On Lights from his shop in Beaverton. We reviewed one of Brian’s lights back in 2009.]

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15 Comments
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    Todd Boulanger November 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Nice user friendly beam selection app…as helpful as the big boys (though a dark urban street might be nice option too). Though it took the web site a long long time to load…it was like being back on the web in 1996 with dial up service.

    Good luck.

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    Jack November 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Ummm…$380? Glad to see someone passionate about their product, but best of luck to you at those prices. My $100 NiteRider works great for at least 4 hours without upgrading the battery pack.

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    CaptainKarma November 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Could these custom lights come with a dimmer switch so some folks might not blind my retinas with laser beam brights directly into my brain stem out on the Springwater at night? Just wondering.

    Oh yeah, I’ll buy local lights (when I get a job).

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    Stig November 5, 2010 at 6:47 am

    This guy’s site is nice but it’s light on specs. Just what emitters are used and what batteries aren’t even revealed. Pricey, too.

    I’m using 1-2x 700 lumen flashlights from dealextreme. $25 each plus Li-ion batteries (cheap). I just velcro them to my helmet’s air vents for the dark morning and then pack them away once I get them to work. No tools required.

    Since they’re helmet mounted I can angle them any way I want. Typically pointed down towards the road/bike path, which lights up obstacles and gives me and my bike a larger footprint for other vehicles to see.

    Plus they won’t blind oncoming cyclists and other folks on the bike path and I can turn my head away just to make sure. Cheap and effective.

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    velowocky November 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Looks like a promising small business. I’m always looking for the best/brightest REAR light. Doesn’t look like these are on offer yet. There aren’t many manufacturers out there who are making battery-integrated super bright tail lights. The few that are available are really expensive. Maybe Icarus can make one for the people?

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    Editz November 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    “Could these custom lights come with a dimmer switch so some folks might not blind my retinas with laser beam brights”

    It’s not a matter of the brightness but poor lens design. Most of these things are just dumb flashlights that spew light any which way instead of directing most of it to the roadway like that of a properly designed automotive lens.

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    Red Five November 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    awww censored again.

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    Argh November 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Wow. A guy takes the bull by the horns and starts a nice local company making products the way he thinks is best and all the hating? Really? If you don’t need a nice light system just buy a cheaper solution, fine, but bravo Pat, way to make a good product locally. Thank you.

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    Mark Allyn November 6, 2010 at 1:21 am

    To Jack:

    The $380 that you mention is nothing. I have spent several times that on my mistakes alone.

    When I made the first lighted raincoats, I probably blew through at least that in popped LED’s alone.

    I imagine that some of my earlier lighted raincoats cost over $1,000 if I account for all of the ‘wasted’ materials due to mistakes and re-work.

    Mark

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    Red Five November 6, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Argh: That’s the funny thing about the BikePortland culture…we eat our own.

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    Toby November 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    The custom beam pattern is a cool idea (though I don’t think the interface on his site does it much justice), especially if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the market. The competition from Asia (Magicshine, etc.) is untouchable on price, but it’s also much more limited on options. That said, I’m happy enough to pay a third as much for something good enough… I agree with Stig that more details (specifically which emitters, and possibly a few more pics of the housing) would help.

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    Editz November 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    @Toby:

    Custom beam pattern is more than a good idea. It’s the law in Germany, and here’s a light company complies with those laws:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp

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    Kyle November 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    haha, good luck $350 is a bit steep. I built my HID from Welch allen for $60 and it is 1000 lumens. also got a sweet deal on my li-ion pack. laptop batteries work great!

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    GlowBoy November 8, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    $380 IS a bit steep considering the parts cost. There’s some cost in the Li battery pack, but LEDs and wiring are cheap.

    I’m still on halogen, but my homebrew 1200 lumen light only ran me about $130 in parts. I’m about to convert that system from halogen to 700 lumens of LED, a system which if I were starting from scratch would run me just over $100.

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    Pat Gerke November 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the input everyone. My website is still a work in progress, so I apologize for the lack of information and photos. Those are coming soon, I promise.

    And my lights definitely aren’t for everyone. If all you’re doing is commuting on lit roads, something less will definitely suffice, but I designed my lights so that I could train at night. That means high speeds, descents, dark and empty roads, etc.

    And while 350.00 isn’t cheap, it’s a really good price point for what’s offered: quality. True, the LEDs and wiring aren’t that pricey, but quality connectors are, as are quality buttons, and a CPU that has thermostat control, multiple modes, programming to extend battery life, etc, things you won’t see on a MagicShine, or even the big brands.

    My lights were designed to compete with models priced hundreds higher than my own.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions!

    Thanks,

    Pat

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