Darkness is here – make yourself seen this winter

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By Shannon Mominee

Nothing signals the coming of winter more than an earlier setting sun. And for much of the country that also means wet weather and darker streets during your commute. There are many companies featuring great products to help us all safely navigate through the season while remaining relatively dry. Here are just a few.

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The Aether Demon rear light from Portland Design Works has a super-bright half-watt LED with three flash modes and one steady setting. The flash modes deliver eight hours of burn time, while the toned down 10 percent flash has a whopping 175 hours of burn time. The steady setting is good for 3.5 hours. A USB cord charges the Li-Ion battery in three hours, and if the battery is running low during use, it automatically switches to a slow flash to conserve energy. Retail is $50 with a seatstay and seatpost mounting bracket included. ridepdw.com

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My commute takes me from the city to the suburbs and back again in dark or near dark conditions. I use a variety of front lights depending on where I’m going and ranging in price from $30 up. But my go to light is Lupine’s Piko TL Max. It’s not inexpensive by any means at $400 but is the most reliable light I own. Even if it sits unused for a few summer months it fires right up when I need it. I credit it to German manufacturing.

The Piko TL Max has 750 lumens with 5 programmable steady modes of 750, 470, 300, 110, and 60 lumens and 3 flash modes. Together there are 56 programmable options with burn time varying from 2 to 40 hours. The small, machined aluminum body is built like a tank and the battery is housed inside the unit. It measures 49mm x 110mm, weighs 202g, and fits in a pocket to prevent theft. Charge time is 4 hours with their proprietary plug. The beam has a generous, concentrated center spot with wide spillover to illuminate the area in my path on city streets or off-road adventures. gretnabikes.com

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Fenders are also a must and the SKS Longboards are a good option. These full-coverage fenders are 45mm wide and designed for 700c wheels with 28-37mm wide tires. The 6-inch-long mudflap shields me from just about all road spray. I initially reviewed the Longboards in Bicycle Times Issue #11 and with a few years of use on them, they are definitely worth $50. The CAB flexible plastic has no cracks and the safety release tabs have saved me from wrecking or damaging my wheel when sticks have flipped into the spokes. The stays are a little bent, but I don’t mind and their function hasn’t been impeded. sks-germany.com

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If you don’t have mounts or the need for full-coverage fenders, a seatpost mounted fender will at least keep your backside dry. I use such fenders on my cross-bike. Portland Design Works Excalibur fender is made from aluminum and simply clamps to the seatpost using a quick release lever. If theft is a concern, PDW also includes a 5mm bolt that can be used in place of the QR lever. The Excalibur weighs 290 grams, measures 20 inches long by 2.75 inches wide, and is available in black or silver for $48. ridepdw.com

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Fiks:Reflective makes fun reflective stickers for wheels, frames, helmets and anywhere else you’d like to add reflectivity. I use them on my black helmet. The company’s 3M Scotchlite Classic Reflective Stickers cost $4 for a pack of 11 and are available in 8 colors. Fiks also makes Reflective Wheel Stripes to add personality and safety to your bike. These are available in many colors, widths, and sizes to fit the non-braking surface of the rim and retail $15. ridewithfiks.com

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