Has anyone ever pulled up alongside you in a Porsche at traffic lights to ask where you bought your reflective gilet? – no, I thought not. But that, quite seriously, happened to me the other day.
Let me backtrack for a second…
All of us cyclists (ok, most of us) (oh, alright, some of us) resist facing up to an inconvenient truth: that being visible on these increasingly dark autumn/winter rides is marginally more important than our sartorial sensibilities would generally allow.
It can seem like a bit of rum deal – a fly in the ointment – to be forced to contemplate spoiling the aesthetic of your beautifully considered kit choices by making concessions towards your visibility on the road.
I can’t imagine there are many cyclists in these enlightened times who relish dressing up like a trainee Police Community Support Officer in order to feel a little safer on the roads.
While super high-viz neon does have its place within the cycling community, for those of us with more than a passing regard for style as well as function its adoption can seem like a compromise too far.
It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that – while not being something to take for granted – is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.
British sportswear brand Proviz has come up with the definitive solution to this issue with the launch of its latest PixElite collection, a supremely eye-catching range of refelctive garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.
The PixElite range features a jacket, jerseys (long sleeved and short sleeved), gilet, bib shorts, arm warmers, gloves and shoe covers. The jacket and jersey are available in both men’s and women’s specific cuts.
The PixElite Softshell Gilet (the focus of this review) is billed as a “high-performance, Italian-manufactured garment for those chillier days when you need an extra layer.” It is those things and more.
STYLE, COMFORT & PERFORMANCE
Having bought the PixElite Gilet initially to improve my overall safety and visibility on evening commutes, I have found myself wearing it on almost every ride since it arrived. It has elongated the lifespan of my summer kit (with the aid of some great Sportful arm and leg warmers) and kept me warm on cold-snap days. It is an incredibly versatile piece of kit that marries great visual appeal with warmth and protection against wind and showers.
The PixElite collection is a supremely eye-catching range of high-visibility garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.
The PixElite reflective fabric built in to the shoulders, sides and lower back is astonishingly effective in car headlights. The micro-beads which make up the reflective element of the fabric bounce headlight beams back toward the driver; it should be impossible to miss a cyclist in one of these garments when it is illuminated by a car’s headlights.
The PixElite Gilet features rear pockets giving ample room for all your ride essentials and with a lock-zip middle pocket you can keep valuables secure.
FIT & SIZING
The sizing of the PixElite Gilet is a little closer than garments from some of Proviz’s other ranges (360+ and Switch in particular). If you are usually a large in either of those styles, I would consider going up a size.
The bulk of the gilet is made from a soft-stretch mix of polyester, elastane and brushed thermal microfibre. Think race fit, especially if you are going to be wearing it over another long sleeve softshell or gabba-style garment.
I’m 183cm and weigh around 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m around a 38-40 inch chest. The large is comfortable, but might be a little tight or short for those above a 40 inch chest. If you prefer your fit a little looser then it might be worth going up a size or two.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The PixElite Gilet is available on the Proviz website for £69.99, putting it in competition with gilets from many other brands. What sets this apart, however, is the additional safety functionality. In daylight it looks just as good (if not better) than most cycling gilets, but at night it really comes to life. It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that, whilst not being something to take for granted, is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.
Which brings me back to the intro of this review…
Having a sports car labour slowly behind, pull up beside you – the window already on its way down – might lead you to expect a terse exchange (although my riding is always exemplary of course). In this instance however nothing could be further from the truth: a polite gentleman simply wanted to compliment me on the visibility of my ‘top’ and ask where I bought it.
It made me love the PixElite Gilet even more.
Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist
Cycling activity: 80-150 miles per week, in moderate British conditions.