Reflecting on Essential Visibility: Your Guide to Reflective Apparel

Written by Contender Bicycles on March 03, 2021

The results are in, and whether you like it or not, being visible on the bike is totally cool. We firmly believe that the best riding of the year occurs during the spring and fall time, when the temperatures are cool, the sun doesn't have a vendetta against us, and the trails aren't crazy dry. That also coincides with riding more frequently at dawn and dusk. Meanwhile, cyclists can be up to 30 times more likely to get injured on the road than drivers are, and up to 18 times more likely to get killed. As such, it's important to be as smart on the road as possible, and being seen on the bike is critical to safety. A substantial chunk of said riding occurs between 6-11 pm, which the Utah Department of Public Safety, or UDPS, claims is "the most dangerous time to be a pedestrian in Utah". Every cyclist has had some sort of “close call” moment, where a driver looked but didn't see you, often in the evening. That falls in line with a study that says while only 10% of all cyclists ride at night, 35% of fatal accidents happen at night. Outside of placing flashing lights on your bicycle, some of our favorite brands have come out with elegantly-designed reflective apparel that looks great and offers additional visibility. We would even go as far as to say that staying visible to other users of the road is more important than nearly any other piece of gear. Why's that? Sure, trading up to a new set of ENVE wheels is a worthwhile pursuit, but safety ought to be a priority for everyone. The human eye takes longer to adjust from light to darkness than from darkness to light. Translation: when the average person is out at dusk, something bright will be that much more obvious to the human eye. Further, the human eye has a much tougher time comprehending perceived distance without something distinguishing, like a moving light. For many, the default solution has been a high-visibility jersey or jacket, whether they choose it for function or for style. During the day, fluorescent clothing takes ultraviolet light from the sun and converts it into light we can see. But at night? It makes no difference in the dark. The UDPS claims that hi-viz clothing simply isn't enough at dusk or at night; pure reflectivity is key. Fortunately for us, some of our favorite brands have recently introduced clever ways of introducing not just high-visibility apparel and reflective pieces, but reflectivity where it matters most: your feet. Feet? Yes! The UDPS suggests that the best way for a cyclist to draw attention to themself is with a pair of reflective shoes or a reflective ankle band. The human eye can perceive depth and speed much more quickly if something is in obvious movement, which makes reflectivity critical when something is is high-revolution movement. Your legs (and, by extension, feet) make a substantial difference. In fact, an Australian study found that drivers recognised more cyclists wearing the reflective vest plus reflectors (90%) than the reflective vest alone (50%), fluorescent vest (15%) or black clothing (2%). This leads to the conclusion that while a reflective vest or jacket is a smart idea, leg and feet markings make a world of difference to being noticed at night. Below are some of our favorite new pieces of apparel to help you ride longer and stay safer in the saddle. Scott Comp BOA Reflective shoe (ROAD and MTB) The Scott Road Comp BOA road shoe and Scott MTB Comp BOA mountain bike shoe find themselves at an excellent place in the market. At $120 they blend performance with low weight and comfort without breaking the bank. New for this year is a Reflective option, which features a fully-reflective upper in addition to classically-good looks. The Scott Comp BOA Reflective is available in both men's and women's specific fit options. Scott Comp BOA MTB Reflective Shoe Why is reflectivity important on the mountain bike? Riding to and from the trail before or after your day still means you still ought to be safe, and reflective MTB shoes makes it that much easier to see someone blazing down the trail at speed. Giro Empire ACC and Giro Empire SLX road shoes The Giro Empire cycling shoe is one of the most popular shoes around, for its combination of comfort, performance, and good looks. Thankfully, Giro has introduced multiple reflective versions of their venerable road shoe that offer that same performance and fit without sacrificing it's good looks. That makes the Empire ACC Reflective shoe the ideal shoe for every road-worthy circumstance. Giro also offers the Giro Empire ACC in two reflective colorways, as well as the stiffer, lighter Empire SLX in two reflective variations. Shimano XC5 gravel/MTB/anything shoe Another shoe that offers excellent performance without breaking the bank, the Shimano XC5 shoe is an excellent companion for gravel, mountain biking, and even touring. It's stiff, but not too stiff, with just enough flex to be comfortable over a long ride. This shoe isn't obviously reflective like the other pieces of apparel here, but it's reflective heel cup is a useful feature that only improves visibility. Want to know more about the Shimano XC5? Check out our review HERE. Giro Studio Line We all want to look good while on the bicycle, but when looking good and being safe is available in the same package, we pounce. The new Giro Studio line of shorts, jackets, vests and accessories combines the smart fit of the Giro Chrono Expert clothing line with a distinctive, reflective print. Be noticed for more than just reflectivity with the new Studio line. Giro Studio Line - Reflective Clothing. Contender Bicycles. Also included is the Giro Aether MIPS Black Flash helmet, which is black under standard light, but at night the helmet is deceptively reflective and offers great visibility with around traffic. We're absolutely advocates of getting more people out riding a bike. However, with an increase in cyclists comes an increased necessity for road visibility at dawn, dusk and nighttime. There are a myriad of options to help cyclists be seen on the roads that aren't just for commuters. Between lights, hi-viz apparel, and new reflective apparel, there is no reason to not get out and ride during the best time of the year. Totally cool. Have any questions about how to be safer on the roads and otherwise? Give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to


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