Reflective cycle clothing has improved a lot in recent years – and become a lot more acceptable – and the Proviz PixElite Softshell is among the new generation of jackets that discreetly feature large panels of reflective material without looking like a shiny beacon during the daytime when you don't need it.
It's a very good jacket, this. During the day it's just a black and grey jacket. Very understated, though not perhaps what you might describe as stylish. But at night it comes alive: the large panels of pixel fabric do their thing and light you up like a lantern when the beam of a car's headlight falls upon you.
The Italian made jacket employs the clever PixElite fabric in large swathes over the arms, sides, shoulders and lower back. It owes its appearance to a reflective yarn weaved into the fabric, giving a dotted appearance. You can see just how reflective it is by watching this video.
If you do a lot of riding in the dark, whether it's daily commuting or early morning training rides or chain gangs in the evening, then making sure you're visible to other road users is clearly a good thing to do. Many cycling jackets offer token gestures to reflectively, small tabs here and there. Wearing a jacket that offers 360-degree reflectivity provides a great confidence boost when heading out into the dark, particularly the unlit country lanes that make up most of my riding.
The rest of the jacket is made from a tri-layered back-brushed thermal micro fibre, it says here, which means in reality that it keeps you toasty warm in single-digit temperatures. Worn over just a baselayer, it provides ample insulation for chilly early morning rides, and the breathability is sufficient that overheating is kept to a minimum.
The fit is very good, but – and the company does warn of this – it's proper Italian sizing. The medium I tested fits more like a size small from other brands. You might want to go up a size if you don't have the build of a racing snake. That aside, the shape is good with no restriction around the shoulders and a generous length to the torso, arms and collar. The long elastic cuffs provide good comfort and stop cold air sneaking up the arms.
It's great in brisk wind – the material is completely windproof – but you'll need a waterproof shell if heading out in heavy rain or you get caught in a storm.
You get plenty of pockets for carrying stuff: as well as the three around the back, there are two zipped pockets, one at the back and one on the chest, handy places to put house keys and money.
Traditionally, cycling jacket choices, if reflectivity is high on your list, have mainly been garish commuting jackets (horrible – in my opinion – bright yellow things), but here's a jacket aimed at the sport cyclist who values the sense in being highly visible, but wants a normal looking jacket, one that needs to provide a good fit and work well when training at high tempos. This is one of the few jackets that really succeeds in bridging the divide.
A very good performance jacket that offers startling reflectivity
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Proviz PixElite Softshell Cycling Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Proviz says: "The Proviz PixElite jacket is a high performance, Italian manufactured, winter cycling jacket that gives you warmth, breathability and features our new highly reflective PixElite fabric in the arms, sides, shoulders and lower back. The performance fit gives you everything required on your rides without being a super tight race fit, but if you like a little bit more room it is best to move up by one size. The bulk of the jacket is made from a soft-stretch mix of polyester, elastane and brushed thermal microfibre. Together they block the wind, keep you warm and regulate heat build-up on a hard winter ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Incorporates Proviz PixElite reflective performance fabric
Non-slip silicone hem
Front and rear pockets
Made in Italy
Excellent construction, very durable.
Keeps you warm, helps you stand out in the dark.
No issues to report.
It's not a waterproof jacket.
Decent level of breathability.
If you've gone for the right size, the fit is very good.
It's Italian sizing, so it comes up small. Consider sizing up.
Nice and comfortable, the fabric is soft on the skin when worn with a short-sleeve baselayer.
It's all the jacket you need for most conditions most of the winter time. Obviously not much use to you if you never ride in the dark, but if you do a lot of that it's probably worth the money.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Just follow the instructions.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provides extra visibility when riding at night.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Comfortable fit and discreet reflectivity built seamlessly into the jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
It's not the most stylish jacket.
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 score
If you do a lot of riding at night time, a jacket like this provides a lot more visibility than most jackets, without compromising the performance and fit.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. 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.