The French founders of Urban Circus were a bit frustrated with seeing those yellow mesh reflective vests everywhere they looked in the city – on grounds crews at the airport, on road workers, kids on school trips, and of course bike commuters. So their idea was to spice up visibility a bit by combining fabrics and prints that still met the ISO hi-vis standard, but did so combined with some high-tech performance clothing options, and with a healthy dose of French fashion thrown in too. The result is a couple of new jackets that offer a much more unique look with options like different prints, stealthy reversibility, integrated LEDs & usable phone pocket, and even integrated crash pads. Check out how it all shines after the jump…
High visibility doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice performance. We’ve had really good results with commuter & softshell jackets from companies like ProViz lately, but neither of those really does much in the way of fashion. Most hi-viz gear we’ve tried screams cyclist, and the best of it just draws a lot of questions from people thinking that it looks kinda crazy.
The Urban Circus approach goes about it a different way, starting with the more traditionally shaped zip hoodie Banana Jacket & parka-style Jongleur 5.0, and then integrating reflective patterning and high-tech details so you’ll be seen. Already offering four other less tech-focused but still visible jackets in their Fall/Winter16 collection, Urban Circus has taken to Kickstarter to get the word out on their newest and most high performance designs.
The more simple of the two is the Banana Jacket designed as an all around piece that will do double duty on the bike. It combines a basic gray body with a hood and upper body that gets a really bright print of fluorescent yellow bananas on a reflective gray background, making you easy to spot night or day. The waterproof and breathable hooded jacket will sell for 140€ once it is done, but is available for preorder through Kickstarter for 85€.
The highlight though is definitely the more tech0-oreiented insulated winter Jongleur 5.0 jacket. Available in four different version, it lets you pick and choose how techy you want to go. Again it starts off with a classic shape and the same breathable waterproof fabric, this time with a longer thigh-length cut and a hood, then adds some biking usability with a wide front split to allow for pedaling and a darted back for a comfortable reach to the handlebars. The jacket gets a full 6 pockets, inside and out, to haul all of your junk, and adds in extended cuffs with thumb holes to keep your hands warm and make for a windproof transition when you put on some gloves.
The core visibility concerns are then handled with a mix of dark gray reflective upper arms that pop when light hits them and another colorful patterned fabric that combines bright color visibility during the day and a high contrast reflective pattern at night. Like the Banana, pre-ordering will get you a big discount of around 50% off.
The most basic version of the 109€ Jongleur 5.0 stops there, offering straightforward visibility in either a yellow, green, or red pattern. But step up to 129€ and you get a reversible version of the jacket with a low key dark blue quilted fabric that lets you go incognito around town when you aren’t trying to be seen (or sear any retinas.)
The next bump up to 149€/159€ adds a set of LED turn signals to the mix and a touch sensitive pocket on the arm for your mobile device, with or with the reversibility depending on what you prefer. The last jump to 195€ means it won’t be reversible, but it will build in certified viscoelastic elbow/forearm crash pad armor that will keep a bit safer in the rough and tumble of your city streets.
Urban Circus’ focus is bringing some fashion back to the streets, buy safety is still a primary concern. All of the jackets are were designed in partnership with the French road safety office and Paris’ own city hall. They strive to make riders (and pedestrians) visible from over 250 meters away, instead of the 30m you’ll get with basic reflective detailing. That is thought to give around 2 extra seconds for a driver to react and be able to avoid a possible crash. They say that 70% of road accidents are related to visibility, and so by getting more people out and visible, especially those who aren’t going to put on that yellow vest, means they can help reduce those risks.
We haven’t had a chance to test their clothing out yet, but are looking to add one of the Jongleurs to our commuter collection some time soon. As for the Kickstarter campaign, it has just two weeks left to go and is mid way to its funding target, with delivery of the new jackets slated for late January, while there is still some good winter left.