We, as cyclists, are the second riskier category on the road, after the pedestrians. With them, we share the condition of being unarmed, without the strong metal armour which shields four-wheeled drivers. We have few weapons at our disposal: our and other people’s prudence, the hope of infrastructures suitable for bikes, the utopia of traffic regulations protecting us, and making ourselves well visible to whoever shares our road. A really poor arsenal, therefore.
Luckily the market meets us. There are so many lights on sale, with different shake and sizes and favourable prices, so that it is impossibile not to find one suitable for our pockets and our needs.
A major step forward has also been made in the field of high-visibility clothing; gone are the days when I provided myself with reflective braces in a shop selling accident eequipments; the “construction site” effect was assured but that was the only available thing. Years ago I stopped to peek the underground works, because, while digging, they unearthed some ruins of the ancient Greek city; one of the workers approached me asking if I was a colleague. When I told him no, I would have been honored but I was doing something else in my life and I was using those braces for my safety on bike, and I also explained to him how far I had to go to find them, he told me to wait there. He went back to the construction site and came out right away holding a bag full of reflective braces: “ Keep them, give them to your friends too”. A great man. I still keep a pair of them somewhere.
Today we have too much to choose from; waistcoats, jackets, accessories, arm bands, bags, backpacks, helmets, gloves and so on: nothing escaped, wherever it was possible to place a reflective insert, they inserted it; any item of clothing could have been sewed with reflective fabric, they sewed it; any accessory could have been assembled with reflective fabric, they assembled it.
But, and here the metaphor fits, all that glitters is not gold. With so many available products, it is difficult to distinguish which ones are effective and which ones are not; those which, after you pedal for few minutes change into some infernal saunas and those which are transpirant and comfortable; those which are really reflective even with a low light source and those which, even in the spotlight of a stadium, launch more or less a slight blink.
As I am sensitive to the safety topic, I started looking for a “top” product, as we spend absurd sums for our bikes and then we neglect some purchase really necessary for our safety.
Remaining in an average level, the choice was wide, but when I raised the range of my priorities, I ended up to find myself always in front of the same brand: the English Proviz.
A young company, born in London from an idea of two brothers cyclists who could not find on the market anything that could satisfy them in their rides on the Thames banks; who knows, if they met a generous worker as happened to me in the same period, maybe I would not be here writing about it …
From the small London flat where the Proviz Triviz was born – an electroluminescent triangle you can put everywhere thanks to the sling too and Red Dot design prizewinner – they were able to create a company allocated in 40 Countries, ranging from cyclism to running, without leaving out the outdoor activities and with a branch dealing with work wear.
The catalog is now wide and continuosly updated because the fantasy of these two brothers seems to have no limits. I suggest you to take a look at the website, particularly at the section dedicated to cyclysm, obviously.
Turning to them it was therefore a natural choice, and they provided me with the Reflect360+ jacket, object of today’s test.
As soon as unpacked, you are struck by the good carefulness; for instance, the zip-fasteners are protected by a few rounds of tissue paper, in order to prevent scratching the fabric. And since the jacket is guaranteed waterproof, I immediately checked the seams and the zip-fasteners.
The seams have an accurate workmanship, taped and well sealed against water infiltrations.
The middle full-lenght zip-fastener glides well, ensure the perfect zipping and presents the thermo-welded bands as well as the classic windproof strip. It is provided with a comfortable strap helping the grip.
The same for the two zips of the breast pockets.
A suggestion for who, as I do, doesn’t like to stop in order to act on the zip-fasteners but prefers to do it while pedalling: coat it with a nut of paraffin every three or four months. It improves the smoothness and increases the impermeability. And it does not stain.
It is a jacket for cold seasons, to be used in Autumn/Winter and, despite the absence of a thermal pudding, it keeps well the body temperature. The velvet lining of the winding collar is comfortable, whose zip is protected by a little zip garage.
Usually the waterproof garnments and those for colder climates have as a downside a poor transpirability. In our case, to avoid the accumulation of condensate, we find a series of slits just below the shoulders and two zips under the arms which, once open, allow a better ventilation.
I would have preferred to have two straps in order to facilitate the operations of fastening and unfastening while on the saddle.
Three external pockets: two front ones on the chest and one big pocket, single, in the back.
There is one internal pocket with velcro fastening.
Pedalling in this late Autumn which would be Spring, I noticed that, keeping the front pockets open, the air flow improves, and it’s convenient when it’s hotter. The back pocket is protected from the rain and its size is remarkable, suitable for storing bulky items. For smaller objects we have the breast pockets, so we don’t feel the lack of the little back pocket (typical of shirts and sport jackets) to keep some banknotes or a small bunch of keys.
The sleeves end with two little velcro tongues, which allow an effective protection from the wind and the rain; in the lower part, insteed, we have the classic elastic string with spring terminals, which is a solution more suitable for an outdoor jacket than a sport cyclism one, but it’s functional for the use of this one and, as we will see later, for its fit.
All the inside is lined with a soft and comfortable mesh, which is strong too; it does not seem possible to rip it whilst entangling.
Once worn, you’ll notice immediately that its fit is wide, devoted to comfort. In fact it is not a sport jacket, a close-fitting one, which has among its priorities the best aerodynamic penetration. It’s a jacket for daily commute, in civilian clothes and maybe wearing a sweatshirt. I wore it in some training outgoing too and I could notice that, yes, it’s wide, but fits well on shoulders, fits in the right way without being constrictive; only with the most estreme disposition on the saddle you get to create a “balloon effect” on your belly, which however does not affect the daily pedalling and, on the contrary, it is providential because you blame the jacket and not the jar of Nutella you ate up last night 😀
The sleeves, on the contrary, are long, maybe too much; true that the closure at the wrists lets you tighten them and eventually the comfort gains especially if you wear a sweatshirt or a ticker sweaeter, but I would have preferred them a little shorter for sport rides. In any case, the danger of taking some water or cold is avoided.
But all this becomes a minor detail as soon as you ask the jacket to do its job: to reflect the light in order to make us visible even from a great distance. And it does its job very well, so well that it’s difficult to write in words.
In the photo below, the jacket “at rest”, not hit directly by the light. It keeps its sober gray color, suitable for all situations and all clothes.
And then hit by the light: brilliant!
The pictured version is for men and its size is too big for the long-limbed model who kindly consented. I immediately precipitate the average aesthetic of the article with other photos and another model, significantly less attractive.
Pictures at sunset, with natural light and then illuminating the jacket with a small spotlight led.
This is the small light.
Size M and a light sweatshirt. You can notice that the sleeves are quite long, but the fit remains adherent on the back, where the jacket tightens but loosely. Its remarkable development in lenght in the rear is an excellent protection from wind and rain. In the details, the air intakes on the shoulders and the zipped ones under the arms.
The miracle is due to the particular fabric, studded with thousands of glass microsheres, that catch and reflect even the slightest light source.
When directly hit, they shine; if the light illuminates from an angle, it creates spectacular iridescent effects.
The arrival of the cold weather, accompanied by a strong wind, allowed me to do further tests, because this is a jacket for colder climates; since I received it, I had a few rainy days and then a return of Spring. Four weeks where I used it every day, with a heavy and light rain, a wide temperature range and sometimes pedalling whilst scourged by a strong wind. I can say therefore I gathered a wide amount of data and I am ready for the conclusions.
The visibility of the jacket is excellent in every light condition, as its fabric – covered by thousands of glass microspheres – captures every ray. And if , with a direct light, we see it shining, even in the gray dawn hours or with the sky getting darker, a slighest light source is immediately captured and amplified, with nice iridescent effects depending on the angle where is hit. Only the dim yellow light of the street lamps does not allow it to express all its potentialities; the white light, on the opposite, does not give any problem.
It is not a jacket you can use only in the dark, even if its better yield is in low light conditions. Precisely its own characteristic of being able to capture the light and to reflect it, it makes it visible even in the daylight. Its sober gray color allows you to wear it everyday, without the embarrassment that some people feel when they wear shrill fluorescent colored jackets.
Opposite, its color also represents a limit, because, especially at dawn, if you are not hit from some light source, the gray jacket tends to blend in with the environment, unlike what happens with those in vibrant colors. Aniway Proviz has in its catalog some more striking versions (but in a different fabric), so the problem is easily solved.
On the website there is a table to calculate the size and it’s precise. But we must remember that it is a jacket designed for daily use, especially for those who commute to work by bike and then don’t wear technical clothing. This explains the large cut and the sleeves’ lenght; that while they could turn up some hard sportmen’s nose at them, on the other hand they provide plenty of space for a ticker sweater or a voluminous sweatshirt. And the sleeves’ lenght too, that the first few times made me doubtful, with the continuos use and the lowering of temperatures, turned out to be an advantage because we don’t have that annoying curling or pulling of the sweater we wear under the jacket.
Still talking about comfort, I share choosing to have more width on the front, both because the pockets are really useful (did you ever put your cellphone or your wallet in a tight jacket? They almost take your breath away…) and because it does not bother whatever is the position on the saddle of the bike you ride: straight back on a citybike, moderately inclined on a touring one or a trekking one, or inclined on a sport one; in the latter case, the only annoyance is just aesthetic. You never feel compressed or too wrapped. Only pedalling in the final grip and using a strong difference in level saddle/handlebar, you have the contact between the upper tight and the “balloon” created by the jacket at the abdomen height.
And I share choosing to keep a more adherent cut on the back, because in this way the jacket is not puffed up with the wind of the race, draughts do not enter from the collar and does not bang in speed. The collar protects well, is soft and pleasant to the contact with the skin; the internal net, sewn throughout the jacket, including the sleeves, is comfortable even on bare skin. On hotter days, a light t-shirt is enough and you don’t have that annoying rubbing against the plastic as is the case with cheap products.
In the catalog there is the female and male version for each model of jacket, vest or trousers. Then cut and fit suitable for every physical structure.
I pedalled in spring and winter temperatures in this strange autumn’s remnant, wearing the jacket with external temperatures oscillating from 5 to 19 Celsius degrees. Depending on the climate of the moment, I wore a simple T-shirt with long sleeves or a sweatshirt or a pile sweater. I have never suffered from the cold nor the hot. Only facing the most difficult and long climbs, I felt the need to open the jacket to get a little coolness and a better transpiration. Under no circumstances I have recorded the formation of condensation, especially thanks to the vents under the asrms and in the back. The breast pockets too, kept empty and open, helped to refresh in the hotter moments, both because the temperature and the road. When I wore it in sport outgoing, then at much higher paces, it required only a thin thermal shirt, which is already breathable, and here too I didn’t record any annoying moisture accumulations. Furthermore in this situation I could appreciate the effective windproof action. Since the fabric and the processing are the same as the waistcoat, I can reasonably assume that this will behave in the same way. I can not say for sure as I only tested the jacket; we will see, I will ask in the future to Proviz if they can make available to me the vest too, definitely more suitable to the mild Mediterranean climate.
The workmanships are perfect, with seams and zips properly taped and reinforced. You can see they are made to last. Their impermeability is excellent, no infiltration or drops of water. The padding is light and warm and the inner mesh is very strong, not one of those that, once entangled, tear as thin webs. The fabric is strong, soft and able to fit comfortably on the body, without that “stretching” typical of cheap waterproof jackets.
It is a very technical jacket, but not in the sense we are used to, especially those of us, who are cyclists more sporting in our attitude more than in our pace. I liked very much the color, especially for my idiosyncrasy to the fluorescent colours, typical of high visibility clothing. I appreciated the loose-fitting and comfortable lenght for everyday use, finally a cyclism jacket created from those ride a bicycle for who ride a bycycle, and that I can zip if I wear a pile shirt or a sweatshirt. Or a work grisaille. For me, as I have a very broad selection of winter jackets of all types, in the continuos search for the jacket suitable in daily ridings, it was like finding the treasure I was hunting for a long time. In training outgoings, therefore with specific ciclysm clothing, the abundant fit was not an hindrance but even an advantage. For sure in this case I would have preferred it tighter and closer to the chest.
The “balloon effect”, which I mentioned before and did not create me any problems in daily ridings, turned out to be annoying only pedalling in the final grip, therefore with my back extremely stretched, where it’s impossible not to bump into the bulge with my thights. You have this continuous rustling in contact with the fabric, which is also very audible. On the other hand, you are able to reckon the cadence 😀
On step descents, with medium speed of 50 km/h and pek of 70-75 km/h, the long sleeves, therefore curled, flap a little bit. I don’t know if I can enumerate this in the fault column of this jacket, created for cycling commuters rather than impeccable athletes. However I report it for news completeness, I didn’t register any bulging or shaking in the back.
Both in free and sport use, the remarkable back making was always an advantage. The back remains well protected and warm, without draughts and well water-proofed also. Protected both from the rain falling from above and that water, far more insidious with the jacket with a sport and short cut, arriving from the ground and spread from the rear wheel.
I would have preferred two pockets for the hands, maybe lined with pile or the same fabric of the collar, and closable with zippers. Because yes, it is a jacket you wear on the bike and, while pedalling, the objects in the lower pockets are only an annoyance; but it is also a jacket you pleasantly wear after leaving the bike, so it would be useful to have a protection for your hands. They are present in the Outdoor version, together with a practical hood and who knows, I throw out the idea… However nothing prohibits using the Outdoor jacket, which has yet a different fabric, on the bike too.
I would have liked even more a model with removable sleeves, because if you could transform it in a vest, the spectrum of use of this jacket would have been a lot widened. In the catalog there is a vest, suitable for warmer climates; but, if it could be possible to buy only one item and have both the jacket and the vest, I am sure that the cyclists would appreciate it. Another idea thrown out, if Proviz will take in it, I do not mind…
However a convertible version exists, but in a different cloth.
We can add a little string on every zip opening the ventilation slits, because it is difficult to control them whilst pedalling, the offered grip is too small, especially if you wear winter gloves.
A lot of words for all the characterisics of the jacket and few for the main one: the incredible reflecting capacity. Never as in this case, it is true the saying acorrding to a picture is worth more than a thousand of words; and I coludn’t find any appropriate word to describe the luminous effect without using a wide array of hyperboles. It is better for you that I published the photos …
It is a jacket with many good qualities, meant for a specific cyclism – the commuters’ one – , namely for those who daily ride a bike and do it with low light. I purposely didn’t write “urban cyclists” , because circumscribing the use to urban routes would be reductive.
It could be not appreciated from the more sport cyclists, which would like a cut and a vestibility more abundant. Considering the surplus in the sleeves’ lenght, it is very probable they would get the desired result using a smaller size. To be sure of it, I should compare them and it is not possible. Therefore I used it also for training and it was perfect in almost all situations. As I wrote before, I would have liked it a little more adherent only in a determined riding position.
With some improvements, a little one like the insertion of pockets and a big one like making the sleeves detachable, it would be even more usable. But already so I discovered an excellent product, of remarkable quality, but above all really created for those who use the bike every day, in every condition and with every clothing. You know I am crazy about pastime bikes, those where you get into the saddle and pedal without worrying about the road, the pace, the climate and the clothing. Here, this jacket is the natural complement: you wear it and go, without thinking about your clothes, or if rains or if there’s enough light.
The price might seem high, but only if compared to cheap jackets, available at the big chains of sport clothing. And those can not boast the same quality and the same reflecting capacity. Money well spent? If you care about your security, yes, without doubt.
Sono Fabio Sergio, giornalista, avvocato e autore.
Vivo e lavoro a Napoli e ho dato vita a questo blog per condividere la passione per la bici e la sua meccanica, senza dogmi e pregiudizi: solo la ricerca delle felicità sui pedali.
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