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The first thing everyone is going to notice about this Vespertine Road Hog Reflective Waistcoat is the price. It's hard to see past a price tag of over £200, but designer Sarah Canner has not produced a run of the mill piece of safety equipment, here, nor even an average cycling gilet - this garment comes with a genuine New York designer pedigree, and results from a desire to fuse fashion and function.
Those not interested in the fact that this is a genuinely innovative and unusual garment, made by a designer, from extremely high quality materials should stop reading now. Yes, it's expensive, but it's fashion, dahling, for the bike.
Made from lightweight merino tweed, with a reflective 3M thread, woven in Scotland, this waistcoat looks smart and stylish by day, but it's really under the glow of car lights that it shows its true mettle.
Considering the fabric is as soft and 'normal' looking as it is, it's amazing how visible it becomes when it starts doing its funky reflective thing. The waistcoat is trimmed with a broad band of Scotchlite trim too, just in case you weren't convinced it was reflective enough. It's also fully reversible, with the interior of the piece lined in high viz pink (again trimmed with Scotchlite)100% recycled polyester, if you fancy being more visible during the day too.
On the bike, it's very comfortable and strikes a good balance of windproofing without being over hot, and the merino content shows its worth. It's a garment for Spring and Autumn use, rather than the depths of winter, although with a thermal baselayer, it does the trick on moderately cold dry winter nights too, as long as you're not generating too much speed.
The fabric is genuinely visible, giving a feeling of a bit more safety, without having to compromise on looks. THAT is the key area where this waistcoat differs from anything else available, it looks really good and stylish as well as having a technical role to play, whether it's worn on the bike or merely for walking around in low light. An unusual combination, albeit an expensive one.
The fit is slightly boxy, and best suited to more athletically shaped women. Some curvier ladies may find it doesn't suit quite as well.
Yes, it's an investment, but some women (and men) will spend this on a piece of designer clothing off the bike, so why not one for on the bike as well?
Well made, looks good and really does do what it's supposed to.
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Make and model: Vespertine Road Hog Reflective Waistcoat
Size tested: n/a
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?
Aimed at fashion conscious women wanting to look stylish on or off the bike. Has a performance/safety element too.
Does what it claims to.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made from merino/3M woven tweed
High viz pink recycled polyester lining
Small zipped security pocket
Superb attention to detail and extraordinarily high quality materials and lovingly made.
Really visible under car headlights and looks great off the bike and in daylight too.
The reflective tweed is slightly susceptible to damage from the likes of velcro and snagging, but otherwise will wear well for years.
Very light for a non fully technical/casual garment.
Yes, it's enormously expensive, but you're sure as hell not going to see a million other women out riding in this! If "different" and "unique" are your thing, and money isn't a problem, this is worth the investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, both on the bike and also as a garment for around town dusk or after dark wear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, quality, fabric, performance, uniqueness
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely, but I'd sell my partner's bike first.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No, but only because I'd be jealous.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Innovative, beautiful, comfortable and expensive. If you've got the money, you could do a lot worse.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.