The Pro-viz Electro Luminescent Vest was designed by two brothers who commuted daily through the cut and hustle of London's mean streets and it shows. Looser cut than their gilet for a better fit over street clothes, it doesn't feel like a tent atop training jackets.
Integral lighting steals the show but is flanked by Scotchlite detailing and old school orange/yellow day glow so the 'Sorry mate, didn't see you' defence won't wash. Alas, nor does the fabric thanks to the impregnated technology. Sure it can be wiped down and will have repaid the meagre investment and possibly saved your life several times over by the time 4,000 hours chimes time on the electricals.
In essence it's a fluorescent orange/yellow polyester vest with clever strips hard-wired into the fabric and connected to a battery pack cum switch that sits in an integral pouch. AA batteries aside, the lack of user serviceable parts might have doubting Thomas and Theresa shaking their heads. Pro-Viz had pondered the use of LEDs but the greater likelihood of bulb demise persuaded them otherwise. Engaging the switch rewards with a soothing blue light accompanied by very low humming sound characteristic of this technology, which has been around in Sam Browne belts and similar accessories for some time now.
The background noise is no more intrusive than from those lights typically adorning our Christmas trees and quickly forgotten. Three modes (steady and two flashing) return between 40 and 70 hours from a set of alkaline cells, although this dropped by 20% with NiMH rechargeables. A handy mesh stash pocket complete with Velcro tab saves rummaging in panniers for keys, wallets, multi tools and other everyday nick-nacks while doubling as a handy point for a blinky-should you not feel suitably conspicuous.
Bombing along on the drops, the tail offers some additional protection from rain/chill without buffeting like the proverbial builder's tarpaulin but the fabric has a tendency to absorb moisture which could lead to chill worn with an office shirt. Round town, the fastest setting proved most effective, especially joining the flow of traffic or exiting roundabouts, although toggling between settings on the fly takes some practice. Wager on being seen from four hundred yards or so-even on the darkest nights.
Great safety aid for training and commuting through the gloomy months.
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Make and model: Proviz Hi Visability Light Emitting Vest
Size tested: Orange/Yellow L/XL
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"The PROVIZ high visibility cycling vest is designed to be worn over your usual cycling gear to ensure you are highly visible at all times. Including our electroluminescent lighting system, this vest is the first light-emitting vest on the market. When it gets dark, simply switch on the battery pack in your inside pocket and vehicles will immediately know where you are on the road". Does exactly what it says on the tin.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Light emitting strips, powered by AA batteries, reflectives comply with CE EN 13356, polyester construction.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Frankly, the vest is one of those products that does exactly what it says on the tin- a brilliant safety aid whether cross town commuting or training on the open road. Visible to distances of around four hundred yards on the darkest nights, toggling between steady and flashing modes is a bit tricky on the fly and I'd love this technology to become available in a machine washable format but these are very minor points.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nicely designed and executed by people who genuinely understand urban riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Also available as a plain (washable) vest without strips.
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)