Browsed by
Category: portland design works

After roller-coaster year, Portland Design Works looks ahead to 2017

After roller-coaster year, Portland Design Works looks ahead to 2017

The Portland Design Works team: (L to R) Jocelyn Gaudi, marketing manager; Matt Cittadini, sales manager; Hazel Gross, office manager; Chris Smitherman, warehouse and customer service coordinator; Erik Olson, founder.(Photos: J. Maus & PDW)

The Portland Design Works team: (L to R) Jocelyn Gaudi, marketing manager; Matt Cittadini, sales manager; Hazel Gross, office manager; Chris Smitherman, warehouse and customer service coordinator; Erik Olson, founder.
(Photos: J. Maus & PDW)

Just over eight years since he founded Portland Design Works, 37-year-old Erik Olson is about close out one of the toughest ones yet. In the past six months he’s endured the departure of his co-founder and business partner, lagging sales thanks to a global downturn in the bike industry, pesky counterfeiters, and an unexpected cross-town move. Despite these hurdles, Olson is sanguine about the future.

“We’re moving in the right direction as a company,” he shared from the floor of his warehouse on Southeast 21st Avenue during a visit yesterday. They’re located just a stones-throw from the new Lafayette Street Bridge (which he and other employees use with their bikes every day) and the Orange MAX line.

New packaging from Bern for the Asteroid rear light.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

New packaging from Bern for the Asteroid rear light.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Back in May, Olson settled his company and four full-time employees into a new 3,800 square-foot warehouse and office space. They were previously based in a much larger space on Northeast Hancock (you might have noticed the PDW mural on the west-facing wall as you pedaled up Williams Avenue just north of Broadway) — that is, until a wealthy donor with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art decided they wanted to buy the building and move in. It was a lot of work to get everything packed up and out with relatively short notice, but in the long run it’s been a positive thing for the company.

Unlike the separated spaces and dark interior offices of their old building, the new offices have lots of natural light and all the employees are close enough to easily talk and exchange ideas — a key ingredient to PDW’s success.

The relatively small brand has established itself in the industry by offering a line of thoughtful and distinctive products. They seem to be in that sweet spot where they’re small enough to be able to quickly dream up new products and improve existings ones, while being large enough to keep inventory high and costs low. Part of the reason for that, Olson shared, is all the products are made in small factories in Taiwan, instead of mega-factories in China.

One of their latest projects is a new collaboration with Bern helmets. Starting in January, the Massachusetts-based company will package, market, and sell the PDW “Asteroid” taillight with a custom mounting kit that snaps into the goggle port at the back of all their helmets. Olson thinks the partnership will raise the profile of PDW due to Bern’s reputation and strong presence on the East Coast – where PDW isn’t as well-known.







Fake!

Fake!

Then there are companies “collaborating” with PDW illegally without their consent. In a sign of the times, and perhaps a sign of PDW’s success, rogue actors have started to make a counterfeit version of the PDW’s popular Danger Zone rear light then set up shop on Amazon.com. That’s led to a frustrating drain of time and resources in what amounts to whack-a-mole. PDW Marketing Manager Jocelyn Gaudi says they often first track the fakes down after reading a negative online review.

Olson showed me one of the fake lights from a company called “Raypal.” It looks similar enough, but the materials and finish are very poor. Olson has a list of about 40 of these bogus resellers and so far emailing them cease-and-desist letters hasn’t completely solved the problem so he’s got an employee who monitors the web for fakes on a daily basis.

“Weren’t you sort of flattered to be copied?” I asked. “Heck no! I was pissed!” Olson replied.

Combatting counterfeiters is one reason PDW is moving toward a new system where they only sell to “authorized resellers.” This is a big move for a small company that now has to get 1,300 existing bike shops and other dealers to fill out an application form and make sure they all follow some basic rules. The new program will likely cause a dip in sales as unsavory dealers are cut off; but since those who pass the test will be required to sell PDW products at a set minimum retail price and present the products in a professional way, it will ultimately strengthen the brand by weeding out discounters while raising revenue from trusted dealers.

Beyond their lights (which got a boost in lumens this year thanks to the trickle-down of light technology), fenders have become PDW’s bread-and-butter. With the Full Metal Fenders in their top sales spot, they now have a polycarbonate version dubbed “Poncho Fenders” that come in at about half the price.

While they continue to tighten up their product line, raise the integrity of their sales channels, and oversee a major update to their website, Portland Design Works is on a strong course for 2017. They’ve come a long way since opening up shop in a leaky tin shed (which they shared with Ruckus Composites, another Portland bike company who has found their stride) eight years ago.

Gaudi, the marketing manager, wanted me to ask you, dear readers, what type of products you think PDW should make next?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post After roller-coaster year, Portland Design Works looks ahead to 2017 appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Industry Ticker: Kleppinger in at Cyclone, Powell leaves Portland Design Works

Industry Ticker: Kleppinger in at Cyclone, Powell leaves Portland Design Works

Uma Kleppinger.(Photo: Cyclone Bicycle)

Uma Kleppinger.
(Photo: Cyclone Bicycle)

One hire and one big change at the top are the latest stories from our local bike industry.

Cyclone Bicycle, a Portland based bike parts and accessory distributor, has hired Üma Kleppinger as its marketing content manager. And Dan Powell, co-founder of Portland Design Works is leaving the company.

Check out the press release below for more details on the Cyclone Bicycle news:

Kleppinger comes to Cyclone with 15 years of content creation and creative services experience, working in numerous markets. She has 6 years of experience in the cycling industry working as a copywriter, branding specialist and marketing consultant. She is a freelance editorial writer for national cycling publications, and has served as Editor-in-Chief on Specialized’s digital magazine, Your Ride, Your Rules.

“I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get on board with a growing bike brand where the diversity of my branding and content experience will directly contribute to that growth,“ said Kleppinger. “Working with big brands is exciting, but I especially enjoy helping to elevate emerging brands.”

Cyclone has enjoyed a growth spurt lately, with the recent acquisition of Action Bicycle USA and signing several new brands.The company has also restructured and expanded its Portland headquarters, underscoring the need to expand the marketing department.

“We’re pumped to have a veteran content creator like Üma onboard. As well as her vibrant personality, Üma brings the skills and a high level of professionalism that Cyclone needs to propel our marketing efforts to the next level” said Tyler Robertson, Marketing Director at Cyclone.

A bike commuter and dedicated mountain biker, Üma started her affair with bikes as a messenger in New York City during college. When not writing about bikes, she can be found either out on the trail or at the Lumberyard, casing jumps.

The addition of Kleppinger comes just a few weeks after Cycling hired their first-ever national sales director.

Visit to Portland Design Works-8

Powell at Portland Design Works’ former headquarters on NE Hancock in 2012.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

And Dan Powell, the co-founder of Portland Design Works, has decided to move on. Powell opened PDW in 2009 with his friend and partner Erik Olson after they worked together in Wisconsin at Planet Bike. PDW has grown by leaps-and-bounds since then and the company is currently settling into a new warehouse space in southeast Portland after moving from their space on NE Hancock a few months ago. An avid outdoorsman, Powell is going to take some time off and explore other adventures. Good luck Dan!

Want more local bike business news? Check out the Industry Ticker archives.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Industry Ticker: Kleppinger in at Cyclone, Powell leaves Portland Design Works appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Industry Ticker: New products from Portland Design Works and North St. Bags

Industry Ticker: New products from Portland Design Works and North St. Bags

productslead

Portland Design Works’ new City Rover and the “Scout” from North St. Bags.

Two of our favorite local companies have just announced new products: Portland Design Works has a new headlight and North St. Bags just went big with a whole new line of duffel bags.

PDW’s new City Rover comes in 400 or 200 lumen varieties and cost $65 and $49 respectively.

Here’s a photo followed by the company press release with more details:

Portland Design Works launch City Rover USB Rechargeable Headlights

Portland, OR – Portland Design Works (PDW) has introduced two new City Rover USB rechargeable headlights, aiming to provide certified lumen power at a competitive market price for urban commuters.

City Rovers are available in 200 or 400 lumen models and are micro USB rechargeable. Like the Lars Rover headlights PDW launched in 2014, the City Rovers include a CREE LED and Texas Instruments integrated circuit. The City Rover lights offer an updated hood design that includes side cut-outs for increased visibility.

The City Rover 400 model has 5 power modes with up to 11 hours run time: 400 lumen runs for 2.5 hours, 200 lumen runs for 5 hours, 100 lumens runs for 10 hours, pulse runs at 7 hours and fast-flash runs at 11 hours. The City Rover 200 model has 5 power modes with up to 20 hours run time: 200 lumen runs for 4 hours, 100 lumens runs at 9 hours, 50 lumens runs at 18 hours, pulse runs for 12 hours and fast-flash runs at 20 hours.

Both City Rover models were independently tested by the Labsphere Illumia Light Measurement System. “The Illumia system allows us to test our lights for the most accurate readings of consistent lumen output and actual burn time,” Mark Mollenkopf, National Sales Manager for PDW explained. “The test results helped us design a high power/energy efficient commuter light that you can rely on.”

The Rover provides 15 minutes of low-power safety mode after the low-battery indicator light comes on. The lights fully charge in 5.5 hours with the included USB cord. Both City Rover models come with the Mission Control 2.0 quick-release rubber mount.

– Advertisement –


And North St. Bags has launched a gorgeous line of new bags called “Scout.” Unlike their existing panniers or backpacks, the Scout is a duffel bag. They come in three sizes and range in price from $59 to $99. Here’s another photo and a few photos and more details:

product-duffle-medium-midnight-tan_1024x1024

Made from tough 1000 denier Cordura® nylon and lined with waterproof X-Pac™ sailcloth, the SCOUT Duffle is the ultimate solution to keep your essentials intact and dry when on the go.

Made to order in three sizes, the SCOUT 11 ($59), SCOUT 14 ($79), and SCOUT 21 ($99) are also available as combined set for $225. Our premier travel companion, the SCOUT Duffle is a rugged, yet refined luggage line made for travelers who value durability as much as style.

Portland is home to many great companies that sell bikes, parts, and accessories. Keep track of them all via our Industry Ticker archives.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post Industry Ticker: New products from Portland Design Works and North St. Bags appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest

Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest

We’re excited to announce the winners of our Ride Along contest!

We launched the contest last month with Portland Design Works and a promise of up to $300 in new gear for the winners. Over 70 people submitted essays about why they wanted to share their daily bike ride with the community.

We heard from all types of people from throughout the region, including a 12-year old boy and a woman aged 62.

PDW’s Jocelyn Gaudi and I were simply amazed at the quality of the entries. Here’s how Jocelyn put it: “In going through all the applications, it was very apparent that the Portland cycling community is a remarkable crowd full of unsung heroes — you guys are our inspiration!”

I wholeheartedly concur. I wish we could have picked many more winners. But alas, here are the three folks I’ll be joining for their daily rides in the coming months: William Sanders, Ben Cogdill, and Kimberlee Chambers.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

We chose these three for two main reasons: We liked how they answered our question (“Why do you want to share your ride with the community?”), and we think their route will provide interesting fodder for the Ride Along post.

William is a firefighter who lives in Vancouver and rides all the way to downtown Lake Oswego — a 20-mile route that he follows with a 24-hour shift before riding home the next morning.

Ben lives and works downtown. He commutes daily on streets in the central city with his pre-school aged daughter. “Commuting by bike has expanded our relationship with Portland,” he shared in his contest entry, “and regularly fills me with varying levels hope and disgust.”

Kimberlee told us her 12-mile work commute — from inner southeast Division to Gresham — is a “daily adventure” that takes her by “many challenges and pleasures.”

Each winner will get their bike fully outfitted with Portland Design Works goods and will have the option to visit the company’s north Portland headquarters to have it all installed.

Then, over the next three months I’ll join each of them on their ride. As usual with our Ride Alongs, I’ll hear and see how they navigate the streets and experience the riding environment from their eyes, then share the whole experience right on here on BikePortland.

If you weren’t picked, don’t be surprised if you hear from us in the future. Thanks to everyone who entered and stay tuned to meet Ben, William and Kimberlee!

The post Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest

Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest

We’re excited to announce the winners of our Ride Along contest!

We launched the contest last month with Portland Design Works and a promise of up to $300 in new gear for the winners. Over 70 people submitted essays about why they wanted to share their daily bike ride with the community.

We heard from all types of people from throughout the region, including a 12-year old boy and a woman aged 62.

PDW’s Jocelyn Gaudi and I were simply amazed at the quality of the entries. Here’s how Jocelyn put it: “In going through all the applications, it was very apparent that the Portland cycling community is a remarkable crowd full of unsung heroes — you guys are our inspiration!”

I wholeheartedly concur. I wish we could have picked many more winners. But alas, here are the three folks I’ll be joining for their daily rides in the coming months: William Sanders, Ben Cogdill, and Kimberlee Chambers.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

We chose these three for two main reasons: We liked how they answered our question (“Why do you want to share your ride with the community?”), and we think their route will provide interesting fodder for the Ride Along post.

William is a firefighter who lives in Vancouver and rides all the way to downtown Lake Oswego — a 20-mile route that he follows with a 24-hour shift before riding home the next morning.

Ben lives and works downtown. He commutes daily on streets in the central city with his pre-school aged daughter. “Commuting by bike has expanded our relationship with Portland,” he shared in his contest entry, “and regularly fills me with varying levels hope and disgust.”

Kimberlee told us her 12-mile work commute — from inner southeast Division to Gresham — is a “daily adventure” that takes her by “many challenges and pleasures.”

Each winner will get their bike fully outfitted with Portland Design Works goods and will have the option to visit the company’s north Portland headquarters to have it all installed.

Then, over the next three months I’ll join each of them on their ride. As usual with our Ride Alongs, I’ll hear and see how they navigate the streets and experience the riding environment from their eyes, then share the whole experience right on here on BikePortland.

If you weren’t picked, don’t be surprised if you hear from us in the future. Thanks to everyone who entered and stay tuned to meet Ben, William and Kimberlee!

The post Meet the three winners of our Ride Along contest appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Announcing our Ride Along with Portland Design Works contest

Announcing our Ride Along with Portland Design Works contest

Ride Along Kathleen McDade-17

Throwback Thursday to that time I rode
to work through east Portland
with Kathleen McDade.

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Portland Designs Works. And we’re kicking it off with a contest that will win three lucky readers $300 worth of PDW gear.

This fantastic local company first sprung into our hearts back in 2009 and has really hit their stride in the last few years thanks to a line of smartly designed products, creative spirit and authentic commitment to our community.

Now, PDW has stepped up to be the official sponsor of our Ride Along series! That’s the regular feature we’ve been doing for just over three years now where I meet up with a reader at their house and join them for their ride into work. Along the way, we get to know the person and we see their ride — the good, the bad, and the ugly parts — from their perspective.

We rely on financial support from readers like you.

pdw_oval_webaddress450-final

To make this a bit more fun, we’re teaming up with PDW to pick the subjects for our next three Ride Alongs. If you are chosen, you’ll get a serious hook-up of PDW gear and an invite to their World Headquarters (just off N. Williams Ave) to get everything installed and dialed-in just right. Oh, and you’ll also get your daily ride featured right here on the Front Page.

Sound good to you?

To enter the contest, fill out this form. Besides basic info, we want to hear your #everydaycycling story and why you want to share it with the world. If you’re chosen, we’ll contact you in the first week of April to schedule the PDW visit and the Ride Along.

Keep in mind, we’re looking for all types of daily ride (not just work commutes). PDW’s #everydaycycling campaign celebrates people who use their bikes daily, whether they’re getting to work, to the grocery store, dropping off kids to daycare, or just cruising the neighborhood.

You’ve got until March 31st to submit your application. Here’s the application form one more time.

Learn at our Ride Along page. Thanks for playing!

The post Announcing our Ride Along with Portland Design Works contest appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Light and warmth: New Portland Design Works Lars Rover and Showers Pass baselayer

Light and warmth: New Portland Design Works Lars Rover and Showers Pass baselayer

Two new products from Portland-based bike companies deserve your attention — especially as evening commutes get darker and rides get colder.

Body-Mapped Baselayer from Showers Pass

baselayer

Male version shown. It also comes in a female version.

Showers Pass rain jackets are sort of an unofficial uniform for Portland bike riders. Given how many of them dot the streetscape when weather turns wet and cold, you’d think they were handed out at the border.

We’ve loved watching this company grow and expand ever since they moved to inner southeast Portland. They launched a line of gloves last year and they’ve also expanded their line of pants. Now Showers Pass has broken into more new territory with their first inner-wear product to complement their popular outerwear.

The new Body-Mapped Baselayer (suggested retail $69) is a mix of four materials: Modal(35%), Spandex (8%), nylon (47%), and merino wool (10%). That mix, says Showers Pass, makes their baselayer soft, form-fitting, stretchy, durable, warm, and odor resistant. I haven’t worn mine enough myself to see if all those claims are true — but I can already attest to its softness and stretchiness.

So, what about how it performs? Here’s a bit of tech from Showers Pass:

“The Baselayer features a body-mapped knit pattern designed to vent out excess heat in the areas where you tend to sweat the most – an important design point for the active users who are fans of the brand’s outerwear. Multiple knit patterns are used to achieve the body-mapping without adding additional seams; the torso is seamless to minimize chafing.”

The Body-Mapped Baselayer is available in two sizes for both men and women. Learn more at ShowersPass.com.

Lars Rover 650 from Portland Design Works

lars-main

I’m a sucker for a good light. And, as a captain of a family fleet that numbers five bikes, I’m always in need of them. That’s why I was excited by the new offering from our friends at Portland Design Works. Their Lars Rover 650 ($110 suggested retail) is a very solid addition to their line-up. It’s a USB rechargeable front light that packs plenty of brightness for everything from neighborhood rides to nighttime off-road excursions.

What I love about PDW stuff is that they take design seriously. There are so many lights on the market that just don’t feel or look very appealing to me. The Lars Rover is different. It’s got smooth lines and it looks great. You can also feel its build quality just by picking it up. It comes with three mounts: one that clamps to your bars for rough rides, a quick-release buckle for city riding, and a helmet mount.

At its highest of five settings, the Lars Rover burns at 650 lumens (and will do so for two hours at full charge). At its lowest setting, 175 lumens, it will last 7 1/2 hours on a single charge. It also has two flashing modes — which put out just 125 lumens so as not to be annoying to induce seizures and/or annoy those who detest flashing lights.

Learn more about the Lars Rover at RidePDW.com.

Both of these new products can be found at your local bike shop. If you’re lucky, you might even find one under your Christmas tree!

The post Light and warmth: New Portland Design Works Lars Rover and Showers Pass baselayer appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Rider Appreciation Day’ shows business support for cycling on Williams Ave

‘Rider Appreciation Day’ shows business support for cycling on Williams Ave

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-11

Wine Up, a wine bar on Williams Ave, gave away free snacks and drinks to bicycle riders yesterday.
(Photos by J Maus/BikePortland)

What often gets lots in emotional planning meetings and divisive media headlines is that, in reality, many business owners in Portland not only support bicycling, they embrace and encourage it. Nowhere was that more evident than last night’s Rider Appreciation Day on N Williams Ave.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-2

Event organizer Jocelyn Gaudi.

Created in 2012 by Portland Design Works, a business located at the southern end of the very popular Williams Ave bike route, the event was created to to change the biking/business narrative. It’s a simple idea really: encourage business owners to head out into the street and show their irsupport for bicycle riders.

In a parking lot adjacent to PDW’s headquarters on Williams and Hancock, the company’s co-founder Erik Olson and Jocelyn Gaudi, their marketing manager, mixed among a large crowd. Olson was BBQ’ing free hot dogs and Gaudi was busy making connections and making sure everyone was having a good time. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance had a booth set up where folks could sign up for the group’s email newsletter and become members right on the spot. Also at the PDW stop were Portland Bureau of Transportation staff who stayed busy walking curious citizens through the major changes coming soon to Williams Avenue.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-3

Portland Design Works co-founder Erik Olson.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-1

PBOT staffer Scott Cohen explains the Williams project.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-5

BTA volunteer Tessa Buono shows off one of their membership perks — a free bandanna.

A few blocks up the road, employees from Metropolis Cycle Repair were handing out free patch kits and stickers while store owner Nathan Roll was servicing bikes.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-6

Further north I noticed an umbrella outside Wine Up on Williams so I pulled over to chat. Wine Up owner Camille Gonzalez and head chef Steve Payne poured me a cup of refreshing cold water infused with mint and cucumber and handed me a sampling of savory and sweet trail mix. “We see all these bikers going by all the time and we just wanted to come out and say hi,” Gonzalez said. As riders stopped in, Gonzalez told them about Wine Up and offered free wine tasting coupons.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-8

Camilla Gonzalez and Steve Payne from Wine Up on Williams.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-10

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-12

As we were chatting, we looked up to see another rider get right-hooked as someone turned their van onto N Monroe. The woman on the bike gathered herself and then slowly walked over to the Wine Up table. After getting a drink and enjoying a chat with Gonzalez I heard her say, “Thanks! I’m sort of glad I got right hooked and ended up stopping.”

Yikes! This sucks, but at least she picked a good place to pull over and take a break.

Oh, the joys of biking on Williams.

After navigating the congestion around New Seasons, I gladly pulled into the next stop at Cha! Cha! Cha! taqueria. Employee Kayla Shutes was standing out near the bike lane offering riders ice cold tamarindo and horchata. For those who stopped, there was also a plate of taquitos and empanadas to sample from.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-13

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-14

Cha! Cha! Cha! employee Kayla Shutes doing the horchata hand-ups.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-15

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-16

My last stop of the day was Hopworks Bike Bar where a live band played out front and the sidewalk was jam-packed with appreciative bike riders sampling free tastes of beer in free pint glasses wrapped in free koozies printed with a message of “Keep on biking.”

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-18

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-19

Hopworks employee Meredith Morelli giving away free beer, pint glasses, and other fun stuff.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-21

Perfect respite on a hot ride home.

All this! Just to show appreciation for bicycling and the people who do it every day. That’s my kind of event.

Thanks to Portland Design Works and all the businesses that took part in R.A.D.

The post ‘Rider Appreciation Day’ shows business support for cycling on Williams Ave appeared first on BikePortland.org.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.