The Beacon Jacket is part of Metier's debut collection and while the price might make you blast that mouthful of hot tea over your device's screen in disbelief, don't stop reading just yet. Let me explain why I think the Beacon is an excellent jacket and how it aims to justify that rrp...
- Pros: Fabric performance against the elements, reflectives and well-positioned LEDs
- Cons: Restrictive pockets
At first glance the unique selling point of the Metier is its inclusion of the LED lights as part of the jacket itself. It's nothing new – we've seen plenty of products over the years which have done the same thing – but Metier has certainly put some thought into their positioning and integration.
As you can see in the pics, the front of the Beacon is home to six LEDs, each with an output of 160 lumens. This is certainly bright enough to get you noticed among the sea of daytime running lights and other general urban illumination, especially when you use either of the two flashing modes. With three each side just below the shoulder, their diagonal position is perfect for when you are leaning forward on the handlebar, sending the light straight out in front of you. If it's really dark they'll also illuminate under your neck too for a bit of added 'I'm a human'.
The only downside is that if you're a commuter and wear a rucksack they tend to get covered by the straps.
At the rear you get a strip of five LEDs chucking out 22 lumens apiece. The Beacon, like any good race jacket, has a long dropped tail and this is where the lights are positioned, so once again they are in the perfect spot when you are crouched over in the saddle.
Each of the blocks of LEDs is fused into the jacket's fabric giving a quality look, plus everything moves together with you so you don't get any uncomfortable lumps or bumps from any of the lights or electronics.
Overall burn times are good, too, with 72 hours for both the fast and slow flashing modes, and 12 for constant. Testing saw the constant mode hitting that target and a full recharge of the battery takes around three hours depending on where you are getting the power from.
When I first saw the Metier Beacon my first thoughts were, 'great, another black winter jacket'. Obviously you've got the lights to counteract that on gloomy, dark days but if the cars around you also have their lights on they're easily going to pick up on the reflective pattern covering the Beacon from the shoulders to the pockets.
It's cleverly done, not looking especially like a reflective jacket, and in daylight it is quite understated. You get the same on the left cuff, although I'd also like to see it on the right to aid visibility of an indicating arm on UK roads. Saying that, though, your cuffs are likely to be hidden by gloves during the winter anyway, so it's not a major criticism.
When it comes to fit this is one slim cut jacket so you need to get your sizing right. I have a 33in waist and 39in chest, which meant the medium was a close fit. You don't need to be super skinny, though, and the shape of the Beacon is flattering.
The sleeves are snug, which stops any wind whipping up through them, and I found the length absolutely spot on – enough to make sure they fit snugly into a pair of gloves. The sleeves look shaped too, which avoids any bunching at the inside of the elbows.
The neck is high, again to stop draughts, and thanks to a large zip garage you don't get any irritation to the skin around your throat.
At the back you get plenty of pocket space: a traditional three in the horizontal plane which have a lot of depth, around 175mm for the centre one. The pockets either side are cut at an angle to give you easier access when you are on the bike.
That depth means they finish quite high up your back which can make them difficult to find, especially when you've got thick gloves on. They are quite snug too, thanks to the fabric being so taut, and I actually tore the stitching at the side of the right pocket trying to get my hand in [Metier tells us that it became aware of this problem in December and has reworked all of its stock, reinforcing the bonding and stitching, so this won’t be an issue now].
On the flipside the material doesn't allow any sag when loaded up.
On the left pocket you also get a zipped one for valuables, and the right has the wiring block and battery pack which pretty much takes the pocket out of action. Each pocket is drilled to allow any trapped water to escape.
While both the LEDs and the cut of the jacket are big plus points, the real star of the show is the fabric. Metier calls it Protech, and it creates a blend of something between a hardshell and a softshell.
Like many other manufacturers Metier is keeping the exact make-up to itself, but it's basically a three-layer construction but with each woven together to give the feel of a single fabric when you're wearing it. This does away with the need for any gluing or the use of polyurethane, which Metier says gives the Beacon better breathability.
Layer one, the outer face, is a dense, abrasion-resistant fabric which is hydrophobic with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Metier doesn't make any waterproofing claims but the Beacon is certainly very good at keeping out the elements.
My first ride in it saw me out for a couple of hours in one of the first winter storms to blow through – to say it was an absolute deluge would be an understatement – but the Beacon held out the worst for a good 45 minutes, just as well as any of the best waterproof jackets I've used in those conditions. In lighter rain the water just beads on the outer surface.
All the seams are taped, as is the zip, which gives you an extra line of defence.
Layer two takes care of the windproofing: 'A labyrinth of thin elastic yarns that blocks the wind but allows moisture transport.'
I wore the Beacon in everything from ice cold northerly winds, rain, snow and even sun when conditions improved, and I was kept snug and chill-free throughout, even with just a long-sleeved baselayer underneath when the temperature was below freezing. Paired with a summer baselayer I'd say the Beacon is comfy up to about 12°C before it gets a bit overwhelmed.
The final layer closest to the skin is a fleece-backed material to keep you warm.
And if the jacket does get overwhelmed it dries really quickly thanks in part to the underarm and side panels, which are thinner than the main fabric.
Two hundred and fifty quid, though: is worth it?
I'd say the closest in design and intended usage are the Rapha Classic Winter Jacket, also at £260, and the Sportful Fiandre Extreme Jacket at £265. The fabric it uses sounds very similar in terms of what it is designed to achieve: a great all-round bad weather jacket without the compromises on fit and breathability of a full-on waterproof. The styling and race cut are of the same ilk too.
Against the opposition at this price point I'd say the Metier Beacon is a worthy contender. The fit is great, the fabric works really well against the elements, keeping the bad stuff out while being quite unbelievably breathable.
I'd like to see the pockets tweaked a little to make them easier to get into, but other than that it's great.
On top of that, you've got the LEDs and reflectives, which are way better than any gimmick you might originally be thinking. The lights are in the right place and bright enough to complement any other lighting system you have on your bike.
If you want a top performing jacket for the autumn, winter and early spring, the Beacon represents a great choice.
Awesome technical performance and fit with added LED technology for those who ride in the grimmest conditions
road.cc test report
Make and model: Metier Beacon Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for
The Metier Beacon is a jacket designed to fit in somewhere between a softshell and a hardshell. It offers water repellency and wind resistance along with integrated LEDs for visibility.
Metier says: "The Beacon Jacket is the world's first performance cycling jacket with integrated wearable LED technology. Using hydrophobic, wind-resistant and breathable performance fabrics, the Beacon Jacket gives you a new level of visibility and protection on the road. The Jacket is designed to be worn as an aero fit in order to optimise the benefit of the unique fabric and maximise performance. When worn with a base layer the fabric will maintain your core temperature at the right level and keep you comfortable."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Metier lists these features:
Integrated BrightRide LED System
Lights front: 160 lumens UHI (Ultra High Intensity)
Lights back: 22 lumens UHB (Ultra High Brightness)
120° Viewing angle
3 Settings to the lights
Slow Flash : Upto 72 hours ride time (30ms On, 350ms Off)
Fast Flash : Upto 72 hours ride time (20ms On, 200ms Off)
Constant : Upto 12 hours ride time
Brushed interior finish for extra comfort
Hydrophobic fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish repels rain (ISO 100 water repellency)
Wipe clean Quick Dry Technology
Thermo-regulation prevents overheating
Fully breathable even when riding hard
High contrast deep black reflective surface
Reflective design on the rear and the sleeves of the garment
Removable Control Unit
1000mAh Lithium-ion battery
Charge in 3hours over Micro USB
Breathable side and back panels
YKK AquaGuard® Vislon® zipper with chunky, ergonomic puller
Water resistant zipped essentials pocket
SIZE & WEIGHT
404 grams (Size M)
Operating temperature: 0° to 40° C
Relative humidity: 45% to 75% non-condensing
Operating altitude: tested up to 2,768m
Apart from the pocket (see main review) everything is well put together and the material seems to be really tough.
Not marketed as a waterproof, more water resistant, but it does a very good job.
I normally wear a medium in most brands and this fitted fine all over.
At 422g it's a little heavier than most but that does include the battery pack, which is 52g on its own, plus wiring, LEDs and so on.
It's very slightly cheaper than its main competitors, the Rapha Classic and Sportful Fiandre, though still not cheap. I'd say it's worth the money for the performance.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's a bit more of a faff than washing a normal jacket but nothing major. Remove the battery pack and close all zips before folding the jacket up and placing it in the Metier string bag provided. Metier also supplies its own technical apparel wash in the kit.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great in all cold winter conditions plus the LEDs and reflectives are well thought out and positioned.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The race fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Pockets can be tricky to enter with gloves on.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Metier Beacon is a big outlay but if you ride in all conditions throughout the chilly months it is hard to fault, so you'll recoup that investment pretty soon. It's great to see that the LEDs are an excellent addition to a great jacket rather than being the defining factor.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.