VISIJAX LED COMMUTER JACKET
578g (including battery/switch) £89.99 (includes single ICEid tag worth £9.99) XL/Fluorescent Yellow as tested
The youngest sibling in their cycling range, the Visijax Commuter is designed to keep the commuter dry and visible. It has performed admirably on both night-time excursions and gloomy fog-bound commutes in the cold but ,in common with similarly priced commuter fare, there’s some trade-off where breathability’s concerned.
Impressed by the quality of the design and manufacture, I’m was pleased that the sizing seems to come in large; personal preference for ability to layer aside, a large would have fitted perfectly, if I shared Michael’s predilection for a racing-snake fit (Visijax LED Gilet). The Teflon coated polyester has kept out both heavy showers and twenty miles of drizzly commute with ease. There’s an internal storm-flap - which has, so far, not snagged on the zip. A drawstring-adjusted lined collar and Velcro-secured cuffs have kept the rain and wind in their place.
Ventilation is provided by built-in vents on the chest and upper-back, as well as four small vents in the arm pit. By my reckoning, the latter look rather like microphones. Whilst this combination has helped keep a decent flow of air, and, combined with cuff and collar adjustment, proved adequate at 12-14 mph on a chilly morning, more vigorous bursts have seen me overheat.
Bit of context; by some freak of nature I have a naturally lower body temperature than is usual. In other words, I sweat more readily than most. Just remember this is a commuting jacket. The mesh inner is a plus in this context.
Traditionalists will like the drop-tail back - which has kept the rump dry on the Brommie and the tourer (both with mudguards, which helps a lot, too). Pocket-wise, a zipped back pocket will take most necessities, whilst two zipped side-pockets accommodate phone and keys without causing inconvenience when hunkering down on the drops.
Scotchlite strips and chevrons pepper the arms, side and rear of the jacket giving strong all-round presence. I like the Scotchlite Velcro fasteners on the cuffs, too. However, the Visijax’s specialty is the use of integrated LED to provide superior visibility in all conditions.
There are 23 of them set into strips. Two rows of three white on the front; a single line of five red to the rear; two rows of three amber on each arm. Operated by a chunky switch (located in its own pocket inside the jacket) which even the clumsiest, gloved cyclist can manage to work, without unzipping, with a little practice, three settings are on offer for the Red and white LEDs.
Slow flash, fast flash and solid. Riding with others brought criticism of the flash settings - these are seriously bright. On dark lanes they are easily visible some two hundred and fifty metres - and catch attention even further off. Though this is much reduced in the neon of the city centre, even there they have drawn attention from motorists and pedestrians. Same on gloomy commutes in the daytime fog.
Visijax suggest these could substitute for standard bike lights. We wouldn’t, if for no other reason than to comply with the law, which clearly states front and rear lights must be bike mounted. That said; they are very bright and could save your life in the event of snagged dynamo wire or similar main-system crisis.
The amber lights are set to flash. Bright enough to be easily seen from front and rear, their intended function is to make others aware that you are turning. Raising the arm activates the lights, which then flash for some five seconds.
Check out how vigorous you need to be. On our model a left turn was achieved with a firm raising of the arm, while a right turn required a more forceful jerk. There’s no doubt that this makes others aware that you are doing something, but the less quick-witted of our fellow road-users seemed not to realise that they indicated direction of turn - mind you, what would? Take usual precautions.
Similar effect can be achieved with a mixture of LED wrist bands and other accoutrements, but the price of those mounts up and as the manufacturers say, the jacket has all the features in one place at the push of one switch.
LEDs and water are not necessarily ideal partners, so follow the laundry instructions carefully, e.g. no biological detergents, softeners and never put through the mangle and remember to remove the control/battery unit. I have noticed no ill effects with everything flashing away merrily post-wash.
Should the worst happen, replacement batteries and charging cables are available from Visijax at £15.99. Helpfully, the controller and battery is interchangeable with other Visijax garments such as the LED Gilet. Both come with 12month warranty.
Charging takes around three hours on the mains; the reward with ours has been up to thirty hours of enhanced road presence - a couple of weeks commuting for all but the most mile-munching workers.
ICE (In Case Emergency)
In addition to the jacket, the package comes with an emergency ID tag, which can be activated by setting up an on-line account with www.ICEid.me
Bottom line, those looking to cover their 10 mile commutes in 30 minutes may find the fabric doesn’t keep pace with their efforts. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed using the commuter jacket and when everything’s taken into account, it represents very good value - especially when compared with other electroluminescent models.