I guess Viking Cycle got it right when your 13 year old fashionista proclaims “If they made it in my size I would wear it while riding my bike”.
Introducing the Viking Cycle Safety Vest.
Expecting a pretty basic run of the mill safety vest, I too, was pleasantly surprised when I pulled the vest out of it’s packaging and started looking it over.
Most safety vests that I have owned were for bicycling or running. They were usually simple things. Mostly cheap and usually one size fits all. They use a single layer of thin mesh for breath-ability, and then they put on a few reflective bits and pieces to make you stand out a bit. Most of the time it is hunter-orange or hi-vis yellow. Often it is a bib where you pull it over your head, but occasionally it might have a zipper. There is usually elastic Velcro involved when putting it on. The elastic Velcro allows you to snug it down to just the right tightness while providing some movement and flexibility as your body twists and turns.
I have been carrying one of these bibs in my panniers for a few seasons now but have never worn it. I subscribe to the “Just in case” philosophy, so I usually carry all sorts of things that I will never use. But, I digress. Oh yeah, my everyday jacket is also a high vis with some reflective material so I guess I didn’t need to pull out the cheap bib that I carried with me
What I thought was coming my way was another cheap safety vest. The key difference in my mind was vest, not bib, and the rest of the above mentioned attributes would be represented. The key attribute though was “CHEAP”.
What I received was not “cheap” by a long shot. It was a purpose designed and quality built piece of gear that hits its mark for most types of motorcyclists. With an emphasis on commuters and couriers, and anybody else that wants to be seen more easily.
The hi-visibility textile material felt durable and substantial and I got the impression that with frequent wearings or everyday riding that this vest was going to hold up
The inside of the vest was lined with a nylon inner mesh that would allow the vest to not stick to your motorcycle jacket. The liner had a nice, soft feel to it so if you were not wearing a jacket, over a shirt, the vest was comfortable and cool to wear.
The collar was a soft “brushed” flannel material. It had a molded shape that stood proud on your neck. It was very comfortable with a soft touch on your neck. Even though the collar stood taller, it didn’t interfere with my helmet and didn’t chafe my neck. There was a lot of give and it didn’t feel it intrusive when layered up with a moto jacket with a collar.
The vest uses a heavy duty zipper that was easy to grab and worked well along the full length of the vest. There was a flap of material over the bottom portion of the zipper that used Velcro tabs to hold the flap in place. I am not really sure of the reason for the flap, but it seemed like a nice finishing touch.
Pockets. Yep, this thing had pockets. Four total. Two prominent pockets on the chest that were zippered and removable. There was another pocket on the inside of the vest on left chest, and a large pocket (7″ wide, 12″ tall) on the lower back. Was this for a back pad? Possibly, but when I tried my D30 back pad, it was too wide and wouldn’t fit. The external chest pockets are roughly 4″ x 5″ in size. They were large enough to hold a set of keys, a wallet, credit card and a money clip. One pocket had a clear plastic front which was designed for an ID badge or key card. One way I could see the removable pocket being helpful was that you could walk up to an secured door, pull the pocket off of your vest, scan the card and walk in.
The vest I received was a large. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 210 lbs. My moto jacket is large as well. I first tried the vest over a long sleeve flannel shirt. The vest felt snug, but not to tight. Same went for my motorcycle jacket. Snug, but not to tight. Hmm. I attribute the fit to the adjustable corded elastic holding the sides together that will give more or less depending on your starting girth and additional layers.
Visibility was excellent. Viking Cycle has you covered here. There are 3″ strips of reflective material on the front, back, sides and tops of the shoulders, so being seen at night will not be an issue.
I mentioned the other high vis bib that I have been carrying with me for a while now. Carrying but not wearing. Thinking this through, I wonder if the reason I never wore that bib was because it was cheap. Also, it was also out of sight out of mind. I bring this up, because with this vest, it wouldn’t really make sense to stuff it in a pannier to be used later. It is a substantial piece of gear with some bulk and weight. In my opinion, it probably won’t fold down as easily and compact as my cheap vest. The fit and styling were good enough that wearing it everyday seems like a better idea. If your everyday motorcycle jacket was a dark color and you were trying to bring some brightness into your life, then this will fit the bill. With the big zipper, you could unzip the vest easily with gloves on, unzip your jacket when you arrive at work, take them both off at the same time and you are good to go.
This evening I went for a ride after dark. I had to make a trip to Target to pick up a card for my anniversary tomorrow, so I decided to wear the vest and go. It was easy to put on over my jacket, easy to zip up with the big zipper, and it was cut high in the front so it didn’t bunch up at my every growing stomach when on the bike. If didn’t feel like another layer, but felt like a regular part of my gear. Bonus, nobody ran me over so I can say it did it’s job.
That is a lot of info about a thirty dollar vest. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Here in Minnesota winter is beginning to knock on our door and our days are getting shorter and our nights are getting longer and anyway that I can improve my visibility while on my motorcycle, bring it my way. The Viking Cycle Reflective Vest is a good way to do that without breaking the bank.
Get yours here: Viking Cycle Reflective Vest