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The Motion Fox Flashback expandable hi-vis vest is an incredibly simple yet cleverly executed idea that overcomes the problem of high-visibility attire being compromised by rucksacks.
Essentially it’s a convertible gilet, dripping in day glow and retro-reflective 3M detailing that morphs from a taped, snug fitting garment to accommodate rider mounted luggage.
It’s not cycling specific, but can be used for other activities including motorcycling, running, walking and even horse-riding. Talking of which, there are several eye-catching designs to choose from including turtle and ladybird for little ones, although if Joshua’s any barometer, scaled down adult versions would be welcomed for pre-teen audiences, who are a particularly vulnerable group.
Materials wise, it’s a rugged, easy-care, breathable polyester shell that can be popped in with low temperature civilian washes when that heady patina of traffic grime, spilt energy drinks or canal path starts looking too authentic. Ours was a size large, gracing my contours handsomely worn atop middleweight training jerseys or jackets.
Uncoupling two press studs sees it expand to accommodate a backpack up to around twenty litres. A seamless effect is easily achieved with hydration packs too, so it’s a viable option for those early riser time trials so long as you can shrug off the inevitable hunchback of Notre Dame jibes.
Speaking of which, we’ve had the odd wisecrack while snaking through gridlocked town centres but otherwise reaction has been extremely positive. Garish green/orange/Scotchlite is just the ticket for snaring driver attention it just varies slightly.
Nocturnal runs through rural backwaters suggest it can be seen from up to around 450 metres away on clear nights, dipping nearer 350 in murkier skies, heavy showers or through town on account of municipal vehicles and competing neon. Its 360-degree design eliminates potentially fatal invisible spots, whether you’re slipping out from side roads or tackling major roundabouts.
It’ll resist twenty minutes of heavy drizzle, adding fractionally to protection for laptops, tablets, computers, cameras and similarly sensitive goodies.
Annoying, drag inducing flutter has been reassuringly conspicuous by its absence when hunkered low on those sweeping, blustery descents and there’s been no obvious trace of uncomfortable bunching in this stance either, so long as you’ve taken a few seconds to achieve a properly sculpted effect.
Innovative and surprisingly likeable safety gilet with horizons beyond commuting.
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Make and model: Motion Fox FlashBk Expandable hi-vis vest
Size tested: Yellow Size: L
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?
"The FlashBk is a patented Irish designed product (Patent Patent S2011/0542) that bridges the gap between sportswear and safetywear. The FlashBk can be worn as normal, or expanded via a set of simple fasteners, and can then be worn over a bag or backpack. No more will you have to hide your hi-viz vest under your backpack.
The FlashBk is a simple, single garment, 360 degree visibility solutions that means you'll be seen no matter where you are. It's ideal for cycling, walking, running, hiking, motorcycling, horseriding and a host of other outdoor and leisure activities. What are you waiting for? Buy one today and be seen in style!".
Meets its design brief refreshingly well for the most part.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The FlashBk includes the following great benefits:
* Expands to cover bag/backpack
* Controlled expansion via side fasteners
* Rear elastic hem prevents material flapping in the wind
* Sturdy two way front zip
* Rear light hooks
* Fluorescent colours for daytime visibility
* Reflective material for nighttime visibility
* Suits variety of bag sizes and styles
* Various sizes available (S/M/L/XL)
* 100% Polyester (Breathable) fabric
Barely noticed it.
Not strictly shower resistant but breathes and dries pretty swiftly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, Motion fox flashbk has been a very pleasant surprise and meets its design brief extremely well. The ability to tailor fit to accommodate different sizes of, or indeed forgoing luggage altogether extends its cycling horizons to winter training, touring and even early morning TTs. Folding compactly, it's easily stowed away in post/rack bags when not required and is laughably effective to around 450 metres on clear roads.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, well conceived and very effective. Lends itself to running, walking, motorcycling and other outdoor use too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing per se, though a scaled down adult pattern for pre teens would be very welcome.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)