Proviz jacket and helmet review

Visibility is something that a lot of cyclists take very seriously. No doubt the image of a car not spotting you in the dark is a scary one. One company that has  jumped on this need is Proviz. They’re providing a range of reflective cycling gear.

They recently got in touch and offered a couple of samples to review for London Cyclist.

The first is the cycling jacket.

Proviz cycling jacket

On the surface the jacket is your standard high-viz cycling jacket. However, on the back and front are four light strips that you can power up from a battery unit held in the inside pocket.

proviz-jacket-light

The light strips are pretty bright and would be hard to miss. The below picture is taken in a pitch black room.

proviz-jacket-back-light

I haven’t had much time to test out the jacket and it’s been a little tough to test as I’ve been sent an XL version (And also the batteries in the unit sent were dead!).

What I did notice however is that the battery unit is a little noisy. You get a constant low level noise when you leave the light on. When it’s on blinking mode the noise stops when the lights are off. However, this shouldn’t be noticeable when you are out cycling.

Other than the problem with the low-level noise the jacket seems fairly good. The quality is acceptable and you can’t argue that it doesn’t help you be extra visible. The jacket is particularly suited to the colder winter months as it provides a lot of warmth. If things do get a little hot then there are two big vents that can be unzipped.

The jacket was out of stock when I put this article together but normally it is available from http://www.proviz.co.uk/ for around £67 and I’m sure at some stage will be appearing in bike shops.

Proviz Saturn bike helmet

Fitted with a light at the front and at the back of the helmet the Proviz Saturn helmet is also designed to provide extra visibility.

saturn-proviz-helmet

bike-helmet-saturn

The helmet features an adjustable strap on the back to make it fit all size heads. I personally found the helmet sat a little high on my head for my liking.

Other than that the helmet looks good, it’s well ventilated and the lights are surprisingly strong. A neat feature is that the visor at the front can snap on and off depending on how the mood takes.

I particularly enjoyed testing out the light on the front by using it to navigate around my house in the dark. I’m sure for night-time road side repairs this little light will come in very handy.

The helmet costs £52.19 and is available from the Proviz website.

Reflective cycling gear and overall review

I’m not a big convert to the Proviz gear but that probably has more to do with my approach to visibility. I personally prefer a decent bike light coupled with a good visible road position (rather than riding in the gutter).

Rather than spend money on a jacket my approach would be to spend more on a brighter bike light.

However, I can’t argue that reflective material can help provide you with an edge. Therefore, as logic would dictate, reflective material coupled with lights is a strong combination.

If your visibility is of concern and you regularly ride in the dark and in poorly lit areas then the Proviz gear is definitely worth considering. I’m hoping to see more great things from the company and it’s good to see someone looking out for the visibility of cyclists.

Check them out at proviz.co.uk where they also have some more reflective bits such as a rucksack cover.

Note: We’re giving away 5 Proviz helmets to 5 lucky winners on the newsletter on Friday 5th Nov (tomorrow). If you’re not registered then do so now and you’ll be in with a chance to win!

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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24 Responses to Proviz jacket and helmet review

  1. Owen 04/11/2010 at 11:43 am #

    The Guardian published a similar article the other day as well on the bike blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/nov/02/lights-visible-night

    What came up in the comments there is the problem over the (il)legality of having white lights at the rear, as the jacket demonstrates. It’s all very well being visible, but if drivers assume you’re travelling in the opposite direction might that not cause more problems than it solves?

    Interesting as well (from your photo of the helmet) how utterly useless that hi-viz fluorescent yellow colour is as soon as it gets dark. Much better to have a black jacket with more reflective strips on it.

    • Andreas 04/11/2010 at 11:48 am #

      Like I said in the review – I’m not a big convert to the “dress myself like a Christmas tree” mentality. Though at the same time I’m not going to advise someone not to do that if it makes them feel safe. Would definitely be interesting to see more research done into night time visibility for cyclists.

    • Alex 05/11/2010 at 11:00 am #

      It’s worth noting Owen that high visibility clothing of any type only works where there is light. So in a dark room without light there is nothing to reflect off the helmet surface, so it wont be seen.

  2. Higgs 04/11/2010 at 11:52 am #

    Anything that helps commuters to be seen is good. Enduro jackets have a tab at the back for attaching a rear light (useful in the winter) so having them built into the jacket is not a bad thing (you can’t forget to attach it)

    by the way the proviz website link links to your article on bike lights not their website

  3. Proviz 04/11/2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Hi Andreas

    Thanks for the review.

    To set peoples’ minds at ease, We can assure you that we are getting the small noise problem sorted. It is a complicated issue but one we’re committed to rectifying.

    In regards to the legality of the EL strips. They are completely legal. White lights facing forward and red lights facing back apply to any lighting system that is ‘fixed’ to the bike or any mode of transport for that matter. The lights on the jackets and on our other products are fluorescent blue so no problem there.

    The high-viz colour of the helmet is to help cyclists be more visible during the day and the lights are for the extra night time visibility.

    Hope this helps.

    The Proviz Team

  4. Gaz 04/11/2010 at 2:17 pm #

    100% agree with your money better spent buying better lights. Hiviz is far too common in streets like London and you don’t actually stand out.

    Do Proviz use any 3m type reflective tape. This is what makes things stand out and looking at the yellow helmet there is nothing special about it apart from the awful colour

    • Dave Escandell 04/11/2010 at 3:24 pm #

      I can’t comment on these particular products, however hi viz gear in general is much more effective out of our relatively well lit urban areas, where one is one is unable to take such an obvious primary position.

      These products do seem to have a market in our smaller towns and more rural areas.

      Legal or not, the blue light strip on the back of the jacket really would work better if it was red. When a driver sees a red light they instantly react to it in a defensive way, knowing that they are approaching another vehicle. My fear is that said reaction would not be as instinctive with blue lights.

      The difference in reaction speed at best or simple realisation that the blue lights are in fact a cyclist could be dangerous.

      I applaud the idea, but there is a standard on our roads and it should be mirrored.

  5. David 04/11/2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I bought some 3m strip reflectors with tiny red LED spot lights built in (flashing or static modes) from Poundland for, you guessed it £1 each. What a bargain and great for the kids on their micro-scooters on the way home from school.

  6. Sam 04/11/2010 at 4:32 pm #

    I don’t quite understand the negativity towards high-viz clothing! People wear them because they’re ”highly-visible”…..After all, the police, ambulance, fire departments do because it does a job and makes them safer. It’s not rocket science!

  7. Paul M 04/11/2010 at 6:12 pm #

    This article leads me to mention something I have been musing on recently: I dislike “cyclist” clothing, preferring to look normal, and I dislike helmets because they are uncomfortable (even the best of them) and I have real doubts about their protective qualities on city streets (steep rocky MTB trails yes, under the wheels of an aggregate lorry, no).

    Surely though, you could kill two birds with one stone – the high vis (reflective/flourescent material) helmet! Surely it wodl ake sense for all helmets to be covered in these materials, or at least to have decent sized flashes on the back and front?

    When I look around me at what other riders are wearing (if any helmet at all) you know what the commonest colour is that I see?

    Matt black.

    • Angi 04/11/2010 at 9:52 pm #

      Oh I’m sure I read in some book that cycling helmets are pretty useless if collisions occur above (about) 12mph…not sure whether they meant the other vehicle or the bike speed…but I’m guessing that most collisions happen hat much faster speeds than that.

    • Dave 05/11/2010 at 11:27 am #

      Paul M, I agree with your dislike of cyclist clothing; I don’t want to look like a cycle geek either. However, that is the precise reason why I wear a matt black helmet rather than a brightly coloured one with a ‘go-faster’ design.

      I buy most of my cycling clothes from ‘normal’ shops. Most sport t-shirts breathe as well as those specifically made for cycling. The only exception is base layers, but then you can’t see those anyway.

      I am however considering buying some reflective stickers to go on my backpack now that there is barely no daylight.

  8. thereverent 04/11/2010 at 7:07 pm #

    I like the hetmet, as I was considering getting some sort of red LED for the back of my helmet.
    The jacket would be good although I wear a rucksack most of the time, which would hide the lights. Would be good to see a verison with the light strips down the arms (for side visibility and good when you signal).

  9. Angi 04/11/2010 at 9:49 pm #

    I agree with most of the comments above about the light being (a) white, (b) down the back so problems if you wear a bag or rucksack.

    I think I may just stick to my blinking led lights, reflective magnetic clip things and my bog-standard high viz jacket for when it’s dark. It works without all the extra cost and looking too festive.

    • jules 04/11/2010 at 10:42 pm #

      i think i’d probably have difficulty with the one size adjusts to all helmet claim – i tried on lots that claimed that at cycleshow and not one of them went safely small enough for my little pin head. i wear one from the youth range!

      Angi – they’re effective when you come off under your own power – i’ve had mild concussions as opposed to serious ones which makes enough of a difference. on mountain bike a total essential!

      overall i’m not convinced by yellow as high viz – a few reflective strips work better in my view – i also like to be able to wear my waterproofs away from the bike which you look silly doing if they’re that shade of yellow. i wear a grey with reflective stripes and a bright turquoise with spots! bright but not “high viz”

      Jules

  10. Steve 04/11/2010 at 11:19 pm #

    Well I think the concept of the jacket is great. Although its built in heat is a bother, as I get way to hot most of the time.
    Once they’ve sorted the technical problems, I would wear it.

  11. Agent M 05/11/2010 at 7:42 am #

    I’m amazed at how many cyclists wear one small light and dark clothing.

  12. Sam 05/11/2010 at 8:01 am #

    Angi – that was also my concern before I bought one, but I read this extract from road.cc

    “The Electroluminescent waterproof jacket offers a load more visibility, coming with some big reflective panels – those grey areas show up bright when light catches them – and electroluminescent strips. You get four strips – two on the front and two on the back – which shine out in blue-white when you switch them on. Positioned towards the sides, they’re still visible if you put a rucksack on your back. Good thinking!”

  13. Phil 05/11/2010 at 10:10 am #

    I have a pair of retroreflective bands velcro’d through the ventilation holes on my helmet; I wanted to use a Halo reflective helmet band, but they seem to be out of circulation so I made my own version, which seems to work quite well. I like the idea of the jacket, but as I already have my Buffalo plus a high-vis vest I won’t be looking for another until it finally gives up the ghost.

  14. Adrian 05/11/2010 at 10:56 am #

    I used to strap a red light onto the back of my helmet, until a fellow cyclist pointed out to me that hunched over the handlebars with a backpack on it was not visible. That was attached around the middle, this helmet looks like the light is very low, making it next to useless unless you ride in an upright position.

  15. JimF 05/11/2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Adrian’s point reminded me. How many cyclists do you see with lights on their back pointing vertically up? Absolutely brainless…

    • Gaz 05/11/2010 at 2:13 pm #

      You say that, but what happens if you have an accident, And you are separated from your bike and you have no lights on you?

      People that only have lights on there back/ helmet/ bag. are stupid, having lights on your bike is a must.

      • Sam 05/11/2010 at 2:42 pm #

        Totally agree Gaz!

        In my view, the more lights you have on your bike/on you the better.

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