The Flectr Zero is, crudely, a pack of four reflective peel and seal stickers designed to replace those clunky, unsightly plastic types often supplied with new bikes. Obvious pluses include decent retro-reflective prowess, minimal weight and – theoretically – zero drag.
Reckoned indestructible, these are impregnated with thousands of microprisms; these are what reflect light back when graced by car headlamps. Superficially, they're no different from others we're used to seeing on clothing, luggage and accessories.
According to the blurb, these supposedly meet the standards set by police and other emergency services. The blurb also says the Flectr's shape and profile are optimised to avoid drag and tested extensively – 100mph in controlled experiments failed to induce oscillation or noise. They're also universally compatible with aero and round bladed spoke patterns, regardless of diameter.
There's no prescribed pattern, which allows a fair bit of creative licence, although I'd urge you to plan first, then stick. The adhesive backing is super-strong and doesn't permit dry runs, or realignment. It's well worth giving the spokes a quick clean first too.
This kit's arrival coincided with a sudsy bucket wash but a rag dipped in solvent will suffice on stainless steels. Once the spokes are dry, simply remove the foil backing and smooth the Fleckr piece around the elected spokes.
Chrome spokes, though rare these days, do crop up on some high-end 80s race wheels. I've had no problems persuading the Fleckr to adhere convincingly to these either.
First off, bereft of wind tunnel facilities I couldn't test the claims of aerodynamic efficiency, but otherwise I've been impressed with their effectiveness. Even allowing for a slightly haphazard pattern, they've been surprisingly effective.
Approaching roundabouts and generally entering the flow of traffic around dusk, even with bijoux blinkies doing their thing, I was surprised by how quickly I seemed to register on car drivers' radar, even at 5-6mph, and to a distance of 50-80 metres. A more consistent 17mph produces a striking arc of pure white light, enhancing your presence, particularly when passing concealed entrances and rural crossroads.
At the other extreme, drivers seemed less inclined to 'chance it' when I was belting past unlit junctions at 23-25mph. Open road visibility is nearer 100-150 metres in relatively clear conditions.
Pushing things to 30-35mph along descents, there's been no hint of flutter, and for the most part I've not noticed them negatively. Okay, some of us will not want these or anything similar adorning their pared-to-the-essentials race bikes, but to my mind they'd come into their own on tagalongs and trailers.
With increasingly bright main and secondary lighting, solo bikes tend – thankfully – to be pretty visible. However, many drivers are not looking for or don't consider a trailer/similar addition and will pull away, once the rider's rear wheel comes into view, seemingly on auto-pilot. I've experienced this first hand when my son was small and it's terrifying. I've had similar close shaves with a low-slung trailer trundling behind my tubby tourer. Put into this context, £16.50 pales into insignificance.
Durability seems favourable: despite regular exposure to wet roads and the cocktail of spilt fuels and subsequent exposure to bike washing solutions, the reflectives seem untainted. Adhesives seem unaffected too, so they should last – unless you're prone to spoke breakages.
There's no denying the Flectrs do exactly what they promise to, but they are a bit pricey. For my money, I'd be expecting a set catering for two bikes with sufficient surplus for a trailer/tagalong wheel. That said, £16.50 isn't that outlandish compared with similar quality retro-reflective sticker sets, including Respro's Camo.
Bottom line, they do work very well and would be something I'd consider on a winter bike/workhorse, especially if it regularly towed trailers/similar cargo.
Effective alternative to spoke reflectors and particularly useful for tagalongs/trailers
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Flectr Zero aero wheel reflectors
Size tested: 4-piece set
Tell us what the product 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?
Flectr says: "FLECTR is the world's first wheel reflector which combines stylish design with state-of-the-art reflection and outstanding aerodynamics. Beyond that it's weightless and indestructible. Paper-thin FLECTR fits every spoke like a glove"
My feelings are that it's very effective, even at slow speeds, but fitting requires concentration; super-tenacious adhesive means no margin for error, during fitting.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Flectr says: "FLECTR - thousands of retroreflective microprisms reflect light back to its source. Most advanced reflection technology that meets the high standards of police & rescue vehicles. Stunningly glowing when hit by car headlights.
"FLECTR's shape and profile are optimized to avoid air drag. Extensive testing with incident flow velocities of up to 100 mph / 160 Km/h has shown that FLECTR passes these tests without any oscillation or noise."
Very eye-catching, even at low speeds, with no hint of flutter or similarly annoying quirk.
Difficult to say at this stage. Adhesives and materials seem very strong, and they haven't ripped, torn or otherwise shown any signs of fatigue thus far.
Quite pricey, but in keeping with other aftermarket retro-reflective sticker sets.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Flectr generates a surprisingly captivating arc of light, even at just 5 or 6mph. The aero properties are difficult to quantify but there's no hint of flutter or similarly annoying quirk.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Weighs next to nothing yet very effective, even at low speeds.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Super-strong adhesive is a double-edged sword: seems durable but no margin for realignment when fitting to the spokes.
Did you enjoy using the product? More than I had expected.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. And they would be particularly useful for tagalongs and trailers.
Use this box to explain your score
Expensive, but seems durable and very effective, so a good 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)