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review

Pedla RideFlash Gilet

5
£169.00

VERDICT:

5
10
Staggering visibility but it's let down for longer rides by some fitting issues and a lack of breathability
Very reflective
Stretchy figure-hugging race fit
Poor on-the-bike fit
Oh so sweaty
Not rucksack friendly
Price
Weight: 
264g
Contact: 

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The Pedla RideFlash Gilet is a highly reflective gilet for those of us who want to maximise our night-time riding safety – without wanting to look like we've just stepped off a building site. However, despite the claims Pedla makes about its comfort, durability and performance, it has some fitting flaws, condensation builds up when you're riding, it doesn't work well with bag straps and it has a teeth-sucking price.

> Buy now: Pedla RideFlash Gilet for £169 from Pedla

The first thing you notice is that this is weighty for a gilet, which makes it feel like a gilet you put on at the start of your ride and keep on for the duration, rather than one you take on or off to suit the conditions. And while it also feels quite substantial, it will roll up and fit in your rear pocket, though you will still feel its girth.

It doesn't look like it's going to be the most supple garment but it feels rubbery to the touch and it's actually very stretchy. This means it will shrink-wrap around whatever you're wearing underneath it, so it's not going to flap annoyingly when you're riding. It's helped in this by its thick fabric, strong elastic hem and arm holes that hold the gilet close to your torso.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - reflective front.jpg

Pedla has designed the gilet to be worn over a jersey but unfortunately it doesn't have a particularly in-the-saddle cut, and there's virtually no difference in length between the front and back. The result is a gilet that's either too long at the front or with a rear drop that's too short, depending on how you look at it. And this becomes an issue if you like a stretched-out position or when you're riding in the drops.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - tail.jpg

The front concertinas and while it's not uncomfortable and doesn't grab the wind, it looks awkward and the rear only just stretches over your jersey's rear pockets, especially if they're a bulging. The RideFlash gilet is a garment that is definitely better if you're riding in a more upright position.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - hem.jpg

There are a couple of zipped pockets. The rear right-hand one is big enough for a phone, keys and some snacks and the one high on the front will also accommodate a phone.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - chest pocket.jpg

I think the pockets would be fine for commuting when you'll have easy access to your essentials, but they may not have sufficient storage for longer rides.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - pocket.jpg

The full-length YKK Vislon is a two-way zip with the top one having a little dangly string tag to tug on, and while the zip is backed by a wide baffle to keep the wind out, there isn't a zip dock. There's a tiny little loop in the rear of the neck for hanging, or for passing a headphone wire through.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - zip.jpg

The material is waterproof – who knew glass would be good at keeping water out? And water also makes the retroreflective glass microspheres shimmer in a cool psychedelic sort of way. Unfortunately, the zips are not waterproof, so prolonged rain will seep in, though as your arms are unprotected they're going to be pretty wet by then anyway.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - shoulders.jpg

There's no doubting the gilet's warmth – it's a thick garment and a quarter of it is made from glass microspheres, which do an incredible job of blocking the wind. Who knew glass could make an effective barrier to the elements?

However, while it is toasty, there's no ventilation or breathability and the back is made of the same fabric, with no holes or slits or any form of ventilation. This all means you get very, very toasty very quickly if you're putting in effort or the sun's on your back, or if you're carrying a backpack or courier bag – when it gets unpleasantly moist inside.

Pedla admits this is a problem and a feature of the material being both reflective and weatherproof, and suggests you use the gilet's two-way front zipper for ventilation, which I think is a clunky way of doing things. Your sweat has nowhere to go when you're wearing the gilet, so the condensation builds up as if you're in a conservatory and can easily become clammy and cold and chilled to your core, which is exactly the opposite of what you want a gilet to do.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - collar.jpg

The Pedla RideFlash Gilet comes in six sizes so finding the perfect fit should be a breeze – but ignore the sizing chart. At a slender 5ft 10in I'm a default Medium but the Pedla size guide has me somewhere between XS and the S. This is odd as the Medium fitted around me perfectly, with a pleasing amount of stretch required to get the zip up thanks to Pedla's race-fit sizing.

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - back.jpg

Which brings us to the RideFlash Cycling Gilet's raison-d-etre – being seen. This is something it's genuinely outstanding at and lives up to Pedla's claim of it being the ultimate piece of kit for safety-conscious riders. The gilet's Vizlite retroreflective glass microspheres cover 26% of the gilet and are claimed to be visible from over a kilometre away when hit with light – which is fantastically useful at night.

Its silver-grey look doesn't obviously stand out in daylight, where you think you'd be an invisible grey – but even in normal light those glass microspheres can still do their job, and in the right light they exude a sheen that makes it, and you, stand out.

It's a night, however, that the RideFlash Cycling Gilet truly, ahem, shines. When light hits those microspheres you light up like a beacon, and even a bike light during the day makes the gilet light up. And you'd like to think the effect of a vehicle's headlights at night would make you SMIDSY-proof. Well, you'd hope so...

2023 Pedla Ride Flash Gilet - reflective back.jpg

The downside is that these microspheres are a very delicate surface and Pedla says that repeated contacts with sharp or abrasive surfaces will increase the likelihood of wear and reduce the fabric's reflective qualities.

This makes the RideFlash less attractive to what should be its natural consumer – the commuter – as it's averse to rucksacks and courier bags, which will rub off some of its effectiveness. A bag will also block out a large portion of the gilet's reflectivity, though its full torso coverage should mean there's enough of you to remain visible.

It doesn't take much strap abrasion to affect the fabric either, with the shoulder seam showing wear first and dull spots appearing where bag straps chaffed. You could argue that these bits are the bits covered by a bag anyway so it matters less.

Pedla offers a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee if you're not happy but products have to be in new, unworn and unwashed condition with original tags and packaging. Pedla will also repair or replace any products damaged through standard use and deemed a manufacturing fault completely free for 12 months after purchase, and it also has a crash-replacement policy that offers up to 40% off replacement kit.

The Pedla RideFlash is a curate's egg of a gilet: as a cycling gilet it has a few flaws, some of which are more troublesome than others – and it's also alarmingly expensive. But as a reflective garment it's genuinely amazing.

Despite Pedla's claims of comfort, durability, and performance for longer rides its fit, lack of pockets and condensation issues make both the price and the usability hard to rationalise as a cycling garment.

But if you commute regularly in traffic in the dark, especially if you're not carrying a bag, you might consider its outstanding 360-degree visibility and the increased chance of you getting home alive worth every single penny – especially if your ride isn't long enough to work up a sweat.

And if you're a racier commuter you'll appreciate its non-flappy fit for aero gains in the bike lane. That said, its price is pretty tasty, and for the same money you could buy any number of brightly coloured gilets that fit and breathe better, and which might feature reflective elements. Alternatively you could add a reflective sash for a good deal less cash.

Value

When it comes to highly visible gilets there isn't a massive market. Our best reflective cycling clothing buyer's guide is a handy round-up of reflective vests, jackets and gloves, with the ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Cycling Gilet one of our favourite gilets, though Dave didn't find it that breathable. At just 50 quid it's also a fraction of the price of the Pedla.

For about the same price you could get the Rapha Brevet Insulated Gilet, which doesn't have the same all-over reflectivity but does incorporate hi-vis and reflective elements. And we rated it for its comfort and packability.

You could also consider the Apidura Packable Visibility Vest, which is a minimalist option for a third of the price. It's reflective, offers great visibility and Matt also liked it for its ability to pack down into a tiny package.

Conclusion

Pedla has delivered unbeatable reflectivity with its RideFlash gilet but the garment's lack of breathability and fitting issues make it best suited to short commutes rather than hard efforts or long-distance rides.

Verdict

Staggering visibility but it's let down for longer rides by some fitting issues and a lack of breathability

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Pedla RideFlash Gilet

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

The RideFlash Cyling Gilet is the ultimate piece of kit for safety-conscious riders. One of Pedla's signature pieces, shining like no other and keeping you visible on the road as the sun goes down. With 26% retroreflective glass microspheres, the innovative Vizlite™ material is visible from over a kilometre away when hit with light, ensuring unparalleled safety.

But RideFlash is not just about safety – it's also about comfort, durability, and performance.

This new generation with lighter-weight fabric and sleek minimalist design is complemented with our standard fit to ensure room for layering with jerseys and jackets. Comfortable flat elastic around the armholes and hem ensures the RideFlash gilet stays in place and moves with you. With a durable YKK Vislon® 2-way zipper, windproof and waterproof fabric with internal bonded seams, the RideFlash Gilet has you covered from all the elements.

The RideFlash Gilet has high-functionality at its core, with two concealed secure zip pockets on the chest and side body for small essentials. Whether you're commuting, hitting the road in low-light conditions, or just want to be seen out there, the RideFlash Gilet is perfect for winter, autumn and spring. In hotter weather, the reflective and weatherproof material may feel less breathable, but the two-way front zipper offers welcome ventilation during these rides. Be seen, stay safe, and unleash your potential with RideFlash.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Fabric: 80% Polyamide/20% Lycra

Fit: Form fitting with space to layer jersey & base layer.

YKK Vislon® 2-way zipper with internal zip placket

Internal Bonded seams

1km visibility rated fabric

Wind & waterproof

Flat elastic arm holes

Stretch bind hem

Secure concealed zip chest & side pockets

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It's well made, but you'll need to keep an eye on rubs and scuffs to retain its efficiency.

Rate the product for performance:
 
5/10

As a gilet it falls down on poor cut for a road position and terrible breathability – as a reflective safety vest it's outstanding.

Rate the product for durability:
 
5/10

It's well made so should hold together for a while but you need to take care of those glass microspheres to make sure they don't rub away.

Rate the product for fit:
 
4/10

While its stretchy fabric hugs your body and the elastic hem and arm holes keep it fitting snugly, the same length front and rear make for a poor on-the-bike fit.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
4/10

I'm a default Medium and the Medium in this was spot on. But ignore Pedla's sizing chart, which would have had me somewhere around S or XS...

Rate the product for weight:
 
3/10

It's heavy for a gilet, it's more like a sleeveless winter top.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
4/10

Nice and stretchy and slinky to your body – but this was outweighed by a front that was too long, a rear that was too short and and a complete lack of ventilation.

Rate the product for value:
 
3/10

The £169 price is expensive for any gilet and while its reflective properties are worth a lot, its other limitations make it hard to justify that expense.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Threw it in with everything else cycling at 30°C, making sure to do up the zips and turn it inside out to be kind to the glass microspheres and it's been fine.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As a garment to look after your safety, the gilet's reflectivity and luminosity were better that expected – and its night-time visibility was absolutely amazing. Sadly its performance as an actual gilet was less so.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The safety element without you ending up looking like a football ground steward; that and the non-flappy body-hugging fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The poor cut when you're cycling and the clammy sweatiness that results as a result of the lack of breathability.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

When it comes to highly visible gilets it's not a massive market. There's a handy round up of reflective vests, jackets and gloves here, with the ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Cycling Gilet one of our top choices.

For about the same price you can get the Rapha Brevet Insulated Gilet that neatly incorporates hi-viz and reflective elements in its design.

The Apidura Packable Visibility Vest is a more minimal option for a third of the price that slips over any clothing you already have like many hi-vis sashes, but is designed specifically with cycling in mind and is easily packable.

Decathlon does the Van Rysel Hi-Viz Cycling for about £30. Bright green-yellow for daytime visibility and reflective shoulders and pockets for the night. It's not the most stylish or performance-oriented garment but is windproof and water resistant.

The Proviz Performance Gilet has reflective panels rather than all-over coverage, but that does usefully make it more breathable.

Did you enjoy using the product? No – I think I disliked the clamminess the most.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly – for short-distance urban commuters

Use this box to explain your overall score

While it might be amazing at reflecting lights and greatly benefiting your riding safety there are annoying shortcomings to its cycling usability as a gilet.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 180cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: It varies as to the season.  My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time

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: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun

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