Happarel Bicycles is a German company (distributed by artisan werks) who have just started bringing their reflective products over here. They produce reflective material that can be applied to bikes, either as stickers, or as a full frame finish. The stickers are available to buy here and can be applied at home. The full frame finishes look amazing and can be fully customised, but you will need to send your frame to Germany. There are also finished bikes available, such as the tattoo bike below.
We stumbled onto the Silhouette frame stickers at SeaBass Cycles down in Camberwell. I was impressed with how visible the stickers were and and how unobtrusive they can be during the day. They are also really affordable, at £27 for either a regular bike version or a Brompton kit. So, we decided to get our hands on some and try them out for ourselves.
What is it?
The kit contains 18 reflective stickers, sized to fit certain parts of the bike. They are available in 8 colours – black/ white/ red/ orange/ yellow/ green/ blue/ brown – and are opaque so the idea is you select the colour to match your frame.
Depending on your exact bike and attached accessories, you may need to cut the stickers a little. However, even with my relatively small bike, the top tube stickers were not too long. The kits come with labelled stickers and full instructions and are very easy to apply. The main thing you need to do is give your frame a good clean first, making sure there is no residue left behind.
Why the bike?
Obviously with the full custom reflective treatment you would have it because its looks seriously awesome! There are definite reasons that the Silhouette Bike Kit would appeal to those of you cycling around London.
There is a lot going on on London roads. In the evening and early morning, sometimes it feels a bit better to not just rely on lights. We have posted about reflective clothing before, and it can often be a contentious topic. Many people don’t like reflective clothing as it tends to look a bit too ‘cyclist’ and not urban enough. There are of course garments that are attempting to circumvent this problem by including subtle reflective or lighting elements. The frame stickers provide reflective visibility while not standing out like a sore thumb.
Of course the main visibility tactic is having good lights. However, there is no harm having some other visibility elements on your bike. After all, pedals and wheels come with reflectors. Extra reflective bits can’t hurt, especially if they don’t really change the look of your bike.
Side visibility is also often a concern when talking about things such as bike lights. Therefore, something that significantly increases your side visibility to cars will certainly be appealing to some.
They do not stand out at all when there is no light shining on them. I have never really been a fan of sticking things on my bike so their subtleness is a big plus for me. Another bonus is they cover up some of the scratches on my frame. Their positioning means that they are the bits that tend to come into contact with bike racks and posts, so hopefully they will act as frame protectors as well. I am yet to find if this level of contact with hard surfaces will damage them but they are guaranteed and feel really robust.
They are very easy to put on the bike. I was advised to warm them a little to make them easier to curve along the forks and other less than completely straight parts. I cut a few of the pieces to fit on my specific bike and it was very easy and neat.
The stickers really do light up nicely. I like that I have very good side visibility now, especially when sitting in a junction or going past busy side roads. They also make a Brompton kit. Anything you can put on a Brompton frame to make it more visible is good I think. The bikes are lower than most normal bikes and I think that these stickers help it stand out a little more and give it a better road presence in the dark.
The kit works really well on my bike because it is black and I have minimal logos. If your bike is two tone or has a lot of writing on it, you will have to pick a colour and accept that it will be visible in some areas. The strips still won’t stand out too much, unless you want them to – it certainly will look better than putting regular reflective tape all over your frame.
As they are fairly narrow, if you do have text on your bike, you have to decide what you want to do about covering it up. I have very little on mine, but there is a large Trek logo on the down tube. I don’t care about having the brand of my bike on display and would happily cover it up. I don’t want to make it look messy though, and the stickers would not cover it completely.
This is a really great product and I am really glad I have it on my bike. I have noticed that it really does seem to make me more visible on the roads. I cycle through some areas with very poor driver awareness and lots of residential side roads and feel that these helped.
Happarel also make small stickers in different shapes, a large child seat sticker and spoke kits. The small stickers would be great for kids bikes.
You can get your hands on your own stickers, ranging from £4.90-£27, with a special London Cyclist 15% discount (use code LC15) if you order direct from artisan werks by emailing email@example.com
Would you put these stickers on your bike?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.