What trickery is this, sun during the night?! This stuff is bright. It is reflective and it is bright. Did I say it was bright?
I am not usually one for neon colours (although I happen to think that neon pink actually looks quite good on me). I generally prefer my urban cycling gear to be somewhat muted and subtle. I really like that reflective material which is black until a light is shined on it. I think I never really fully outgrew my greb stage.
However, sometimes there are times when bright is needed and can help make you just that bit safer. At this time of the year, when you are going to and from work in the not-quite-dark, high-viz needs to be both a bright colour and reflective to be most effectively seen. It is certainly a good addition to a safety kit for cycling around London, although by no means a failsafe on its own.
Flashlight Windproof XT Cycling Jacket – £45
This jacket is a great outer layering piece and I can see it serving me well all through autumn, winter and spring. It is light weight and can be worn over a tshirt or over a warmer jumper/baselayer/jacket in cooler weather.
The cut is typical cyclist with a long, scooped back and longer than normal sleeves. This is good even in a city as it means you don’t get cold wrists and you don’t have to constantly pull your jacket down at the back. It also means that some of the bright jacket can be seen below your rucksack, should you use one for your commute. My favourite reflective areas are the ones on the sleeves: when signalling it is nice to know that your arm is visible to traffic.
The fabric of the jacket is windproof nylon. It has elasticated cuffs to keep the wind from getting where you don’t want it. There is a large vent on the back along with some meshy fabric under the arms to let the hot air out. As it is a windproof it is more breathable than a waterproof and therefore more comfortable in a a greater range of temperatures and activity levels.
It is a little sweaty when placed directly next to your skin, but with a layer underneath it is very comfortable. dhb make some really good merino base layers which would work very well.
This jacket serves a purpose and is certainly only an on-bike garment. It is not going to win any style awards anytime soon but it will help to get you seen and cut out the windchill. It will also keep light precipitation off. It is certainly a good jacket to keep in your bag and chuck on over your regular street clothes.
Available for £45 from Wiggle
Flashlight Jerseys – £35 & £40
The jerseys come in a short sleeved and a long sleeved version. For commuting purposes the long sleeve one works quite well as an outer layer in the cooler mornings and evenings when a jacket isn’t necessary but you want something a little technical.
The jerseys have everything you would expect from a cycling jersey, including a zip neck, rear pockets and tacky stuff on the hem. These are not all features you necessarily need to cycle around the city. However, the big reflective patches are very useful.
Personally I tend to get hot when I cycle, especially when I am commuting 5-10 miles each way. As long as it is not below about 8°C then I like the wind to cool me down so a highviz jersey is perfect in the evening.
Available from Wiggle for £40 & £35
Reflective items are useful additions for certain weather conditions and roads. We are not saying they are absolutely necessary, but sometimes they just make you feel that little safer. It certainly can’t hurt. These pieces are practical and very affordable. For most weather London will throw at you during your commute, a windproof is more than adequate and this one from dhb is a good choice if you only want to wear it on your bike.
The jersey is one of these pieces that is useful if you change for your commute. I tend to change my top if I have the chance so the long sleeve version definitely could find a space in my regular rotation. The short sleeve version is probably less useful for most commutes – it is usually cold by the time it is dark. However, it might have a place for you, and it is certainly worth considering if you have irregular commute times in the warmer weather.
Do you feel reflective items are useful for your particular brand of London Cycling? Is there a particular wind shirt you could not live without? Let us know!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.