When we talked with Proviz at the start of the winter we had been very excited about their new Reflect 360+, in the hopes that it would take their super visibility and port it onto a jacket that could serve for winter base training, and all those evenings we spend riding home after a day of road and trail riding. In the end it turned out that the fit of the Reflect 360+ jacket is more suited for commuting with lower speeds, more clothing layers underneath, and an upright position on the bike. It has actually become our go to for being seen on the way to and from the Bikerumor Europe offices.
But we were left wanting for a jacket to handle intense efforts, the low, wet temps of our off-season training, and short dark winter days. While chatting with the folks over at Pro Bike Kit the topic of visible winter riding came up, and they suggested that we try the PixElite softshell from Proviz. So we got one in, have ridden it through the coldest part of our winter and are ready to share our thoughts…
We’ve been riding with a Medium sized men’s PixElite Softshell Cycling jacket, which sells for £130/165€/$185 (currently on sale from ProBikeKit.co.uk for just £87.) It uses a proprietary made-in-Italy PixElite fabric covering just less than half of the jacket overall, which is mostly polyester and lycra with the reflective yarns woven throughout. The reflective bits then end up as little dots that make the whole area pop when hit by even a small light source. The remainder of the jacket is essentially the same 3-layered softshell fabric, but without the reflective yarn is slightly more stretchy.
The front, top, and shoulders get a bit heavier material to make it completely windproof, while allowing better ventilation out the back. The reflective collar and ends of the sleeves get doubled up fabric with adds warmth but also reduces the ability to stretch in these areas. The jacket includes three standard rear jersey pockets and one zippered chest and one zippered rear pocket. It gets a tight 5cm elastic cuff that keeps wind out, a silicone hem gripper at the front and sides, and a wide elastic rear hem to keep it from riding up.
The fit is very close/tight, and based on Proviz’s size chart we would probably suggest going up one size (a big difference to their Reflect 360+ series.) Our 75kg tester with a 100cm chest would have had more room for a heavier baselayer if we had sized up to a Large.
We’ve been testing the PixElite jacket for all sorts of biking over the last 2 1/2 months. That has given a range of temperatures from -5°C up to 10°C (23-50°F), and weather that varied from sunny to clouds with rain showers, and even heavy snow. Rides this time of year have been mostly shorter cyclocross and road rides, up to around 2 hours in length. The jacket of course does it’s best around dawn and dusk, and on heavily overcast days. It seems like every afternoon ride this time of year turns into a night ride on the way home, so the extra visibility paired with small lights has been especially welcome.
The light and thin feel of the jacket, plus the almost compressive fit were welcome and reinforced the performance character of the PixElite jacket. But with such a close cut we had difficultly fitting more than one winter weight baselayer underneath, no chance for a longsleeve jersey plus a heavy baselayer. That said one longsleeve merino layer kept us comfy in the weather we’ve had.
The only issues we had from the start were where there was the heavier, doubled reflective fabric. The stiffer reflective ends to the sleeves made it more difficult to put on the jacket and keep our baselayer from bunching up, especially when we tried to have two layers on underneath. At the same time, while the close fit everywhere else was welcome, at the collar one tester just thought it was too tight, and had an occasional issue with the zipper opening a couple of cms while riding. Since the reflective fabric doesn’t have as much give as the normal softshell, both these areas end up being a bit constricted, while an expansion panel of the softshell would improve the fit and at the same time maintain the close cut to keep the weather out.
The jacket’s race cut bordered on uncomfortable when we first suited up, but once on the bike the fit was snug and had no excess fabric to flap around. The sleeves are long enough to cover the wrists, and worked well with every type of gloves we tried. Bigger gauntleted gloves provided a lot of overlap when it was really cold, and the wide cuffs sealed tight over the shorter, summery gloves never letting cold air or rain in at the wrist. The gripper on the front and sides of the jacket did and excellent job of keeping it in place, and with the wide elastic band at the back we never had any issue of the jacket riding up, even getting on and off the bike for some cyclocross practice.
The PixElite jacket performed well in all of the cool and cold weather conditions we’ve encountered so far. The front windproof membrane made even bitter winter winds bearable (at least temperature wise.) At the same time the bulk of the jacket remained breathable, and even under hard efforts we didn’t feel much sweat build-up inside. We didn’t use the jacket in any heavy rains, but rode in a couple of heavy snowstorms, through a good deal of melted snow and slush, and it a few light rain showers. In each case, the precipitation stayed outside where it belongs. The thinner softshell back will certainly not hold up to any sustained rain, but short of that the PixElite deals with precipitation as well or better than most other softshells, with the reflective parts adding an extra layer of protection.
The details of the jacket seem well made and the only issue we had that might have us question durability would be around the rear pockets. After a couple of months of regular use (and stuffing all manner of things into the rear pockets) the reflective coating on the elastic piping at the right pocket has started to peel off. This doesn’t affect its function, and the PixElite reflective fabric does not appear susceptible to this type of deterioration so we aren’t really concerned.
The PixElite makes for a solid and reasonably priced jacket that is getting us through the cold and short winter days. Its performance-oriented fit and cut clearly defines its use. It wants to be worn on the bike when the weather is cool to cold, and ridden at a quick and constant pace. If you are pushing hard and then easing off, it may be more difficult to stay comfortable, and at the same time it isn’t suited for low-intensity rides as the cut doesn’t allow that much layering. But in training mode it has mostly matched much more expensive road jackets, and is probably comfortable from -10 to 10°C with the appropriate baselayer underneath.
Its exceptional reflectivity then really makes it unique. No other jacket we’ve tried can match its visibility for winter mornings or late evening rides. And while we love the glowing aesthetic of fully reflective jackets, the patches of the PixElite seem to better show contrast and allow other users to get a better sense for the movement of a cyclist. What really sold us on the jacket was that it performed as well as any other softshell on our regular rides, and then when dusk fell a bit earlier than expected, we always felt more comfortable on those last few kilometers riding home later than we should have been out in the first place.