There's no questioning the reflective capabilities of the ProViz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet. The fit and breathability need work, but if standing out in traffic at night is 100 per cent your priority then it's best I've seen.
100 per cent reflective
Choice of colours
Male and female fit options
Reflectivity and bike riding go together so makes total sense to ensure that there are elements of reflective material about your person when hitting the road in low light levels or at night.
Why then are most clothing manufactures so bad at including it? It's often just a token tab sewn on here and there, and rarely there at all on warmer weather items.
Proviz on the other hand, is delivering cycling kit covered in reflective detail meaning that in a car headlight you are more visible than a Belisha beacon, with the ProViz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet the latest weapon in its two-tone armoury.
Proviz's raison d'etre is reflective fabrics, constructed using millions of tiny glass beads which then reflect light from vehicle headlights.
According to the brand, the new Proviz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet uses a more ‘technical’ version of the original Reflect360 fabric that it launched in 2014, and is used in products such as the ProViz Reflect360 gloves.
It says this version uses a highly technical film to ensure higher rates of breathability (10,000g/m2/24hr), the number of grams of water vapour that can pass through a square metre of the fabric in a 24-hour period, so the higher the number the better the breathability. To put this into context, most winter jackets have a rating of around 5,000 to 8,000g/m2/24hrs, so the Proviz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet should be up high in the breathability ranks.
But factoring in a reasonably high waterproofing scale, it does mean the fabric is pretty dense, and weighty, tipping the scales at 216g, around 100g heavier than the Sportful Cometa wind vest. It's still around half the weight of most spring weight jackets unless you're investing in something like the impressive GORE Shakedry Insulated Jacket that comes in at just 292g, and although we're comparing apples with oranges here, the latter does also cost £240 more, and it isn't uber reflective.
Colour options depend on the men's or women's-fit versions, with red, green and blue for men and red, blue and purple in the women's.
Other details include two zip-secure pockets either side of the central zip and a high micro-fleece backed collar.
The first thing to get out in the open with the ProViz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet is the fit. This is by no means a tailored piece of apparel, and being totally honest something that I think really frustrates me about the brand.
I was testing the women's size eight, and I think I could have got two of me in there. It's massive. The shoulders and arm holes have been semi-fitted, but there's so much loose fabric in the rest of the torso it doesn't really make much difference.
In my experience it's the same for all Proviz kit and I feel it's missing a trick in terms of catering for riders looking for fitted cycle wear.
That said, it's comfortable and I especially appreciated the high fleecy soft collar when descending the hills on my gravel-style riding route of choice in the Peak District.
It's a route that I've been sussing out and adding bits to over the past couple of months, and think I've almost made it all (legally) rideable. This does however add in a significant altitude loss round the back of the infamous Brickworks, which is then followed by the inevitable climb back up on the road that was part of the 2016 Tour of Britain route.
The off-road descent was, for want of a better word, sketchy. I happened to also be testing the Panaracer Gravelking SK tyres that I found perfect on gravel as well as rolling rapidly on the road, but don't offer oodles of grip on wet, grass-infilled rock garden descents that link up the two preferable terrains.
I've discovered over the years the best way to deal with distinct lack of grip is acceptance, and aim to vacate the area as soon as possible by just letting go of the brakes and hoping for the best. By the time I reached the road from the top of the moorland I was motoring and exceptionally pleased to have a high, loose collar to hide behind to stop the bitter wind giving me lockjaw. The fabric of the Proviz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet feels almost impenetrable by wind, and the difference between warmth of my torso and my arms was striking.
However, this impenetrability was also notable on the ascent back up the hill on the road, and it wasn't long into the climb before I found my torso getting damp.
Normally I'd remove something as simple as a gilet on the move, but the steep upward trajectory meant that the safer alternative to removing both hands was to pull over to whip it off and stow it away. I'm pleased I did. There's just so much of the Proviz gilet that I needed to do a compete repack of my rear pockets as it requires a full empty pocket, and even then it's overflowing.
This is perhaps more my problem than Proviz's as I'm trying treat it like a standard gilet when clearly it's not.
Getting out onto the road at night for further testing and the 360 degrees of reflectivity is outstanding. You stand out so much that the wide birth given by motorists is noticeable, which is totally what the gilet has been designed for and a feature that is impossible to find fault with.
The Proviz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet isn't going to be for everyone. I can totally imagine this being used as daily commuting piece of apparel. Ideally, it does need to be put on a diet, although you could probably get a small rucksack underneath at the moment, which means keeping the 360° visibility at all times.
At £80 the ProViz Reflect360 CRS Plus cycling gilet sits well price wise against its spring-weighted gilet peers. It is a 'horses for course' bit of cycle wear that will work better for some than others, but if you are looking to significantly stand out on the road then it's ideal.
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