Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Portland Design Works Cosmic Dreadnought 110

For the past couple of years my favorite bike headlight has been the Planet Bike Blaze. While the Blaze is still a fine light, my friend Dan at Portland Design Works recently sent me a care package containing what is now my new favorite bike headlight, the Portland Design Works Cosmic Dreadnought 110. Now let me pause to make this clear: Dan is a friend of mine and he gave me this light. As a blogger & a bike shop guy I get stuff. Manufacturers are looking for exposure and feedback and I'm looking for things to write about. Do these freebies bias me? Probably, it's human nature to think kindly towards people who give you things. So, take that caveat into account. Also remember that this blog pays my enormous coffee bills via those little Amazon links so I've got an incentive to get you to buy stuff and this could all just be a big Jedi mind trick to get you to buy things. Welcome to capitalism! Keep your eye on your wallet.

Where was I? Oh yeah, buy the PDW Dreadnought, it's awesome!

Seriously, the Dreadnought is a lot like the Blaze. Here is a PB Blaze next to PDW Dreadnought:

While both lights use 2 AA batteries, the Dreadnought is a bit smaller and lighter. The clamps on the lights are similar enough that each can fit in the bracket of the other, but the PDW clamp is a bit more solid. Changing the batteries is a mater of twisting the head on the Blaze, while on the Dreadnought a screw on the bottom of the light holds the battery compartment closed. Since I've had my Blaze pop open one occasion while I was riding, I think the Dreadnought's battery arrangement is better.

While the Blaze is available in 1/2, 1 and 2 Watt versions (I own every one of them!), the Dreadnought uses a 1 Watt Cree XPE LED. Like the various Blazes, the Dreadnought can be set to High, Low or Flash modes and the package lists the run times as 10 hours on high, 15 hours on low and 25 hours on flash. I have not tested this, but experience tells me these times are probably optimistic. That same experience tells me that the run times of the Planet Bike and Portland Design Works lights will probably be very similar.

The beam pattern of the lights is also very similar. I tested the One Watt Dreadnought against the Two Watt Blaze, expecting the Dreadnought to be overwhelmed by superior fire power. The photo below shows the Dreadnought's beam on the left and the Blaze's beam on the right. Both lights are set to High:

I don't see much difference. Repeating the test with the One Watt Blaze, the Dreadnought was the clear winner.

I still think the Blaze is a good light, but the Dreadnought is a bit better.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Jeff said...

I have a 1 watt Blaze and have been happy with it, but I never liked the mount. It also interferes with my wireless computer, and the flash mode is spastic. How is the flash mode on the Dreadnought, and do you know if it has EM interference issues?

Micheal Blue said...

Kent, this post is interesting, and incomplete. What is the most important - how the beam illuminates the road. If you could post a picture of that, that would be the most useful. Some lights produce strong enough beam when looking at a wall, but if the beam is not shaped and directed right, in actual use they can be only be-seen lights, not see-by-them lights.

Kent Peterson said...


The flash mode of the Dreadnought is more a zap-zap-zap constant pulse at maybe half the frequency of the frenetic flash of the Blaze. I don't have or use a wireless computer, so I can't tell you if there is an interference from the light or not. But the different flash frequency will probably have a different kind of RF signal, so it may solve your problem. Changing the distance between the light & the computer may also fix your problem.

Kent Peterson said...


I'll see if I can get some comparison, from the bars shots done in the next few days. All I have is my phone for taking pics these days, so I'm not sure how successful the night shots will be. If I get decent pics, I'll update this post.

The beam patterns of the PB and PDW lights are quite similar (quite roundish) and I've found them good for both seeing and being seen.

doug in seattle said...

I've tried the blazes, but they all shorted after big rains and weren't very bright anyways. I also hate flashing headlights, particularly when others are using them.

I've since upgraded to a B&M Ixon. It is way, way, way, way better than any other battery powered light I have ever used. It illuminates the road very well without blinding others due to high-tech optics.

Of course, it has the price to go with the performance. Still a lot cheaper than the uber-blinding battery pack lights.

Kent Peterson said...

I tried but failed to get a photo conveying the beam pattern on the road. The PDW has a basically round beam with a pretty bright core and a bit of spill. I would totally put this into the "enough light to see by" category. I also put the 2 Watt Blaze in that category.

kfg said...

"expecting the Dreadnought to be overwhelmed by superior fire power."

Bear in mind that wattage refers to power draw, not light output. A more efficient emitter will put out more light on less power.

Bear in mind also that the advertised wattage rarely has anything to do with the actual power draw of the light. It is usually the emitter max rating (giving the biggest number for marketing purposes). Actual draw is regulated by the controller, which can be anything up to the emitter rating; at which the emitter may have a rather short working life.

Wattage numbers mean very little and are useful only for comparing output of essentially identical lights; say incandescent light bulbs, which is what has trained us to think of wattage as identical to output.

LetsGoThrow said...

Long time reader, firt time commenter...

Saw this bike light on the intertubes tonight and immediately thought of you.

jnyyz said...

Hi Kent:

I measured the runtime of the PDW light, and it is much shorter than advertised.