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TECH NEWS

Sugoi’s new Zap jacket takes reflectivity to the next level

UK exclusive first look at Sugoi’s new reflective jacket + video

Sugoi’s brand new Zap jacket uses an innovative new fabric with thousands of embedded glass beads that reflect light. Under normal daylight conditions it looks like any normal jacket, but shine a light on it and the entire jacket is reflective. We can’t think of any jacket that comes even remotely close to offering such a high level of reflectivity. Take a look at the video, you'll be amazed.

Being visible when riding at night, or even just in dim low light conditions, is a concern for most cyclists. Whether you’re commuting daily, or heading out after work for a training ride, being seen by other road users is something to take seriously.

The wonder of the material is that you have an otherwise regular looking jacket during the daytime, devoid of multiple reflective stripes and logos, so it looks smart and understated. Head out into the dark however and the entire surface reflects light. Even a jacket with a generous amount reflective details and stripes is going to struggle to match the Zap for outright visibility.

It’s claimed to be fully waterproof too, so should be ideal for year-round commuting and winter training duties. It has the sort of features you’d typically expect from a jacket, a dropped tail, tall collar, rear pocket and full-length front zipper. Expected availability is September, and it will cost £99.99.

There are studies that show it is reflective cycle clothing rather than fluoro hi-viz that is the answer to being seen in the hours of darkness. A lot more manufacturers are starting to incorporate reflective details into their clothing, so there is a lot more choice these days.

We'll be getting a closer look at this jacket soon. 

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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37 comments

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PhilRuss | 10 years ago
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[[[[[ Oh, come on! How long b4 it's superceded? It's like the flamin' arms-race. How about a jacket festooned with 50 blinking integrated LED's, half of them popping out on 12-inch stalks at weird angles? Now there's something drivers couldn't miss...could they?
I'll get me coat. (It's actually a race-cape)
P.R.

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alexholt3 | 10 years ago
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Very cool tech, nice to have a jacket that doesn't make you look like a lollypop lady. The strobe they use in the video however I dislike. Flashing lights (to this extent) are distracting to other road users and you can only see them for 50% of the time, meaning a quick glance may render the rider invisable.

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joemmo replied to alexholt3 | 10 years ago
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alexholt3 wrote:

Very cool tech, nice to have a jacket that doesn't make you look like a lollypop lady. The strobe they use in the video however I dislike. Flashing lights (to this extent) are distracting to other road users and you can only see them for 50% of the time, meaning a quick glance may render the rider invisable.

the strobe was mounted on the camera to show how the jacket reflects light back to source, the jacket doesn't actually flash itself..

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billyman | 10 years ago
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Been done before or not it's a brilliant idea, i have a spare light which i can put on pulse shining back at myself which would make me ultra visable.

£99, worth it in my opinion.

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Endorphinix | 10 years ago
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Anything that can help to make you seen can only be a good idea.

There are definitely differences between urban and rural, I don't do a lot of urban commuting but can see the above posts point of bright colours there, where there are street lights and other vehicles and generaly busy roads even at early hours that your lights etc blend into.

In the countryside however you may ride for miles in darkness on a national speed limit country road where being seen from a much greater distance is a priority as the vehicles approach you at much greater speed, 60 at best and upwards!

This jacket would be worth consideration more for those in town, but if you ride in the darkness of the back roads like some, you want to be seen a mile ahead and that will only be achieved with good quality lights.

Each rider has to consider the best setup for them based on their given situation, each of which will differ.

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antigee | 10 years ago
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taking off my helmet and sticking on the satnav, mp3 player, blue tooth phone etc in my personal high speed safety cage I think from the rear on unlit or poorly lit roads reflective/pedals/overshoes are great as they move and are very distinctive - but on busier roads with traffic moving in lanes they are usually obscured so as well as good rear lighting a jacket that is picked out helps give an early indication that a cyclist is there (lights on the back of helmets as well) - a main road near where I live has a fair number of commuter cyclists and at peak periods it can be very hard when trying to pull into the traffic stream to spot even quite bright cycle lights - that's why I always run a front flashing light as its doesn't get quite so lost in the stream of lights and anything else that adds to the picture must help and reckon I'll be buying one soon - nothing of course is idiot proof (that's not an argument for nude cycling!  1 ) just possibly gives a better chance of being spotted by those who are actually bothering to look

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Endorphinix | 10 years ago
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Its a fair point, a serious road accident can cost many thousands in public expense. Obviously there are sympathies with any victim of such an incident. However their injury AND thousands of £'s expense could have been prevented by common sense and riders realising they have a responsibility to make themselves seen.

I do a lot of driving and cycle commuting in early hours, in rural areas and it can be very difficult to see people who put reliance on a night vision style jacket over some good lights.

I reccomend to anyone to put their gear onto a partner and set them off down the road and see for yourself what you actually look like to drivers, then approach them in a real life situation, ie 60mph on a country road and see just how close you get before you see your dummy self, it might just make you change your thinking on your own visibility!

I think one of the above points of moving reflective panels on the backs of overshoes is very valid.

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Sakurashinmachi | 10 years ago
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I presume this is illuminite. If so, it has two problems:

1. It's completely non-breathable;

2. It doesn't shine when it's wet.

I have a Mont-Bell illuminite cycling jacket that's about 5 years old - since then Mont-Bell have added panels of non-reflective breathable material on the back and sides which I take as an implicit admission that my version wasn't a success ... or terribly well tested before being put on sale.

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Chris Hughes replied to Sakurashinmachi | 10 years ago
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That's why we created this jacket, the reflective parts are in little dots not covering all the material of the Jacket. Therefore there is more breathable material than not breathable sections. The reflective parts are made from glass NOT illuminate from 3M.

Chris Hughes - PR Marrketing Coordinator - Cycling Sports Group

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andyp | 10 years ago
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'At night, you really need a combination of refective panels and bright material.'

No, you really need lights. Decent ones, not pathetic little flashing things which give off the same light as an epileptic firefly.

Reflectives are secondary. If you're relying on reflectives to be seen, you need to look at your lighting.

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Neil753 replied to andyp | 10 years ago
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andyp wrote:

'At night, you really need a combination of refective panels and bright material.'

No, you really need lights. Decent ones, not pathetic little flashing things which give off the same light as an epileptic firefly.

Reflectives are secondary. If you're relying on reflectives to be seen, you need to look at your lighting.

Andy, are you a lighting salesman?  3

As a lorry driver, I can vouch that if you're below my cab, waiting for the lights to change, your visibility to me (the person you are trusting with your life, even though you don't know me) is dependent on what you're wearing, not how bright your lights are, simply because my view is from above, rather than in front, and I can't really see your lights from that angle.

And just to labour the point, because this blind faith in lights seems to be alarmingly common amongst many cyclists, if there's a car behind you, with bright headlamps, you render yourself almost invisible because your light is just one of dozens of other lights garing at me through rain spattered mirrors. You must supplement your lights with bright clothing, if you want to stand out from all the other riders sporting the "urban look". In fact, whilst there are so many cyclists doggedly determined to continue wearing dark clothing at night, the difference in your own visibility can be all the more dramatic.

I know, not many on this forum will agree with me, and probably won't until we start recording what people who are involved in KSIs are actually wearing, but we've got to start getting our heads round the realities of the current situation, because even if riders think it's a question of personal choice, those same riders are presumably expecting a vast amount of public resources to be allocated in the event of a serious accident, at the expense of public services that are already at breaking point.

Use lights, wear a combination of bright and reflective clothing, use some common sense, and stay safe out there.

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Leviathan replied to Neil753 | 10 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

even if riders think it's a question of personal choice, those same riders are presumably expecting a vast amount of public resources to be allocated in the event of a serious accident, at the expense of public services that are already at breaking point.

And there it is. "not many on this forum will agree with me," well not whilst you blame accident victims for wasting tax payers money.

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Jenky replied to Neil753 | 9 years ago
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A secular amen to the suggestion that a combination of all approaches is the answer.
No one solution works in all circumstances.
I am somewhat baffled by cyclist wearing black (one killed near me recently, nice fella but I can't suppose his black thing helped)
I meet pretty mentally unwell people through work and one of the poorlier fellas I visited commented that any cyclist not wearing dayglow is votingfor suicide by proxy.
I am also mystified by cyclists with a big front light blazing but negligible consideration for their back - where they can't see whats coming at them.
Very visible but without being offensively dazzling has to be the way.

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mjcycling | 10 years ago
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Concur with visible booties. If it moves, like pedal reflectors, catches the eye much more. Although jacket good with reflective arms for visible signaling.

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Miles253 | 10 years ago
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What a great idea, step in the right direction and cheap ish too, anybody know the overshoes? I want glowing feet too

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joemmo replied to Miles253 | 10 years ago
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Miles253 wrote:

What a great idea, step in the right direction and cheap ish too, anybody know the overshoes? I want glowing feet too

Search for sugio zap overshoes, several retailers selling them. Cheapest is £32 though

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Gennysis | 10 years ago
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For the road, and the rave...

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John_the_Monkey | 10 years ago
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You'll still get smidsied, but at least you'll look like an extra from a Daft Punk video.

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Neil753 | 10 years ago
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Don't want to be a pessimist, but unless you're directly shining a bright light at this jacket it is just another dark coloured jacket. At night, you really need a combination of refective panels and bright material. If the base jacket was brightly coloured, it would have been much more visible in a wide range of lighting conditions. When you get one of these jackets, perhaps you might like to address this issue, by comparing this garment with a standard hi viz jacket, just like you do when testing different lights.

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Leviathan replied to Neil753 | 10 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

Don't want to be a pessimist...

More like a Fifth Columnist.

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Neil753 replied to Leviathan | 10 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

Don't want to be a pessimist...

More like a Fifth Columnist.

An interesting suggestion although, given the nature of many of your posts, surprising.

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Chris Hughes replied to Neil753 | 10 years ago
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The jacket will be available in Fluo Yellow, Red and Black.

Chris Hughes - PR Marketing Coordinator - Cycling Sports Group

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CanAmSteve | 10 years ago
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Fluorescent colours aren't bright in regular car headlights since the lamps have no UV component to fluoresce.

And this Scotchbrite-type reflective medium comes in different qualities - some don't work very well when wet. That's why you often see the reflective patches on industrial gear sealed under clear plastic to stay dry and clean.

And those aren't pixels any more than they are pixies. They are retroreflective glass beads.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/28/business/28heltzer.html?_r=0

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jollygoodvelo replied to CanAmSteve | 10 years ago
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CanAmSteve wrote:

And those aren't pixels any more than they are pixies. They are retroreflective glass beads.

Which worked perfectly well in cats' eyes for 80 or so years...

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belgravedave | 10 years ago
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After a plethora of overpriced 'UK designed' clothing it's good to see this.
I'm in line for the first gilet they make with that material.

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jollygoodvelo | 10 years ago
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If that's genuinely £100 for a properly waterproof (and not boil-in-the-bag) jacket that reflects that well, sign me up.

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Dizzy | 10 years ago
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Ooooh I like ShinyShiny things!!  105

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Some Fella | 10 years ago
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Genius - good price too.

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Welsh boy | 10 years ago
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His overshoes are more impressive than the jacket if you ask me.

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mrfree | 10 years ago
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Hey look! His beard is reflecive in the last picture too!

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