Urban Velo

Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light Review


The Portland Design Works Danger Zone is their flagship blinkie light, with a pair of half-Watt LEDs preventing anyone behind you from missing your location. It’s a fresh take take on the clamshell, AAA powered blinkie and a step up from what you used last decade.

It’s easy to overlook AA and AAA powered lights in this era of USB rechargeable versions, but there is something to be said for conventional power cells. The price of the light can be reduced since a relatively expensive rechargeablle battery and the charging circuit aren’t included, and the overall lifespan of the blinkie doesn’t depend on potentially flimsy charging ports or limited battery cycles. Easy to replace and readily available, they’ll never leave you dark on a trip away from home due to a misplaced power cord or lack of available USB ports. Alkaline cells have a longer shelf life than rechargeables, and in my experience last much longer (especially in cold weather) and give a longer fading warning period that your lights are going to die. I can’t even begin to count how many times rechargeable lights have left me riding home in the dark having only been charged a day or two earlier and used sparingly in between. If you don’t address the gradual dim of an alkaline going dead over a matter of days, there is no one to blame but yourself.

The two half-Watt LEDs of the Danger Zone can be set in steady on, a calm oscillating flash or a more hyper “a-HA!” mode that matches the beat of the only A-ha! song you’ve ever heard. It is a good looking light, and snaps together tight while still being able to be opened without tools or broken fingernails. In some two years of use of one of my Danger Zone lights I’ve yet to have it open up over a pothole or leak enough water to short out, unlike most other clamshell designs I’ve used. I do wish the clip on the back was more robust given the $38 price — hate to have it fall off without warning. While a locking clip may be asking a lot without an increase in MSRP, a couple of holes to securely tie the light to a bike or bag with zip-ties aren’t too much to ask. I like the positive clicking, easy to find switch that I can work with even the thickest of my riding gloves.

It’s bright, it blinks and I’ve not managed to break it. One more step in the quest towards a safe commute. Watch video of the Danger Zone here, and find out more or order your own at www.ridepdw.com.

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