Daylight Savings, thanks for the good times. Autumn, we're up in you. Drivers, we're pedaling here (in our best Dustin Hoffman voice)!
Although we love the fall colors and cooler temps (we're even closing our windows at night in L.A.!), these early sunsets and shorter days have us worrying about visibility on the bike. And we're carrying more layers, too.
But it's not all bad news: Light technology is better and less expensive than ever. There are clothing options that are high vis without being a 24-7 assault on the eye. And the most innovative lighting system on the market just received an upgrade that makes it easier on the chain wallet. Read on to roll on.
Revolights Skyline Wheel-Mounted Lights
One of our friends rides one of those circus-like tall bikes and maintains that most drivers are so amused by it that they're happy to give him all the space he needs. We didn't know what it was like to receive that much love until we pedaled with Revolights: a rim-mounted lighting system that looks better than most untz-untz-untz light shows. Synchronizing to the rider's speed, arcs of white and red light project forward and backward, creating a legal headlight, functional brake light, as well as 360 degrees of visibility. And enough wow factor that most drivers even look up from their phones to get another gander.
At just over 12 ounces per wheel, this third generation of Revolights is less expensive than ever: $199 for the set. Battery life is reported to be four hours and each wheel has eight LEDs that produce 35 lumens each. Another big change? They've fine-tuned the installation process, which is a good thing; earlier versions required a few hours and at least one six-pack of IPA. According to early reports, the new version is a one-tall-boy job, which you'll soon forget once you see these things in action. Photos don't do these lights justice. [$199]
Torch T1 Helmet
With integrated front and rear lights, the T1 is a minimalist's dream. No need to worry about bike-mounted lights that thieves love to snatch up when unattended. Rechargeable batteries power 10 LEDs for up to 12 hours. And the helmet has eight vents, perfect for this cooler time of year. [$140]
Fly6 Taillight with HD Camera
The Fly6 is a blinkie light with an integrated HD cam. Like a GoPro pointed backward, it's designed for the exact opposite of a stoke-heavy POV video: It can provide evidence if you're rear-ended or involved in a crash like the one we wrote about in a standalone review, where the Fly6 footie helped a cyclist prove that he had the green light. At $249, it's not cheap, but it just might provide info you need to save yourself thousands of dollars in crash-related expenses. [$249]
Sugoi Zap Versa Jacket
When light hits the Zap technology of this jacket, thousands of tiny embedded glass bits reflect it. But during the day, these beads are subtle. Too warm for a jacket? The sleeves come off so quickly they're practically Chippendale approved. And since the sleeve unit (the two sleeves are connected by a piece of fabric) connect to the vest with magnets, attaching the sleeves takes less time than singing the chorus to Insane Clown Posse's “Miracles” ("Magnets, how do they work?…”). Our favorite cycling jacket of the fall, the Zap Versa is available exclusively at REI for $159.
Smith Pivlock Overdrive Eyewear
The key to a good pair of sunnies for commuting is quick lens-change capabilities and at least one low-light/clear lens for riding at dusk, in the dark, or in the rain. The Overdrive's Pivlock system lets you switch up lenses in less than 15 seconds. [$199 non-polarized/$239 polarized]
Swrve Cordura Jeans
Like a lot of the gear from Los Angeles' Swrve, their Cordura jeans have a classic look and are on the correct side of being slightly overbuilt. The Cordura denim feels like regular cotton but is more durable. Belt loops and the inside of the right leg (which is visible only when you roll it up to keep it out of your chain) are reflective, and there's a gusseted crotch that makes even breaking in a new Brooks saddle bearable. Knees are articulated and there's a slight rise in the rear waistband that just might be perfect for the walk-pedal of shame: the company says the extra rise helps one "…stay respectable while on the saddle or crouching." Currently available in regular cut, most sizes are available in regular, long, and extra-long lengths, and a few are also available in short. A slim-fit version is slated for next year. [$100]
Light and Motion Urban 350 Blue Moon
We've been riding Light and Motion lights for more than a decade and the company consistently under-promises and over-delivers. They seem brighter than they're rated, and the same overachieving applies to the robust battery life. The Urban 350 Blue Moon is designed for commuting, but at 350 lumens it can handle singletrack fun too. It's impossibly easy to install, stays put once it's on your bars, and is also waterproof. [$70]
Inside Line Equipment Transit Bag
A relatively new player on the scene, Inside Line Equipment bags are the product of a racer/commuter/all-around bike guy in NorCal. Hand-built in the Bay Area, the 15-liter Transit bag holds a laptop, jacket, lock, and your lunch—perfect size for commuting. And there's an additional liner to help keep your computer dry in adverse conditions. There's also a removable sternum strap for stability. All the colorways look good, but is the BMW Motorsport next level or what? [$180]
Pure Fix Zulu
All models in Pure Fix's Glow series are about illumination: the Revo Juliet (spec'ed with Revolights), the Hotel (glow-in-the-dark deep-dish rims), the Kilo (glow-in-the-dark frame), and the Zulu (glow-in-the-dark frame and deep-dish wheels.) Since anything worth doing is worth overdoing, we like the Zulu. The company says, "The paint is solar-activated, so just give your bike an hour of daytime sun for an hour-plus of nighttime fun." At less than $400, this inexpensive rig is a great bang-around bike for day and night. [$399]
Outdoor Tech Orca Wireless Earbuds
Yeah, some folks don't think cyclists should wear earbuds. But at reasonable volume you can still hear everything going on around you and get turn-by-turn directions while catching up on your favorite podcast or Spotify fun. They also have a built-in mic for calls and you can change tracks and volume without touching your phone. [$99]
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