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Metier Beacon Gilet – keep warm, be bright!

Metier Beacon Gilet – keep warm, be bright!

Be seen, be safe. That’s the theory at least. As daylight hours get shorter and the weather cooler, we take a look at a fabulous new riding vest by Métier Cycling… complete with battery and LED lights.

It turned up in November last year, just a little after daylight savings began on the east coast of Australia. Summer was almost upon us and the concept of rain seemed quite foreign in Sydney. Still, the ‘Beacon Gilet’ by Métier cycling was hard to ignore.

It hung in the office for months, long enough for us to become familiar with it. Long enough, I should mention, to be pulled down several times so that I could study the various elements that make the Beacon more than just another garment for cycling.

Finally, in March, it’s getting some use. If you ride early in the day, you’d know why too.

This is not just something to keep your body snug when there’s a bit of an early-morning chill, it also lights you up.

Six bright white LEDs on the front (two panels of three lights up near your collarbone) and five bright red LEDs on the rear (in a row of five, down near the base of your spine). There’s a little battery in a special, small rear pocket, and although cabling is required, you can’t feel it at all when the vest is on.

This is a stunning piece of cycling kit that ticks a number of boxes and, at this time of the year, it should at least be on your consideration list for The Next Cycling Purchase.

Available direct from Métier Cycling, the Beacon Gilet is priced at 180 British pounds. Available in XS, S, M, L and XL sizes…

It happens quickly, huh? The calendar tells us summer is over and ta-dah, the darkness seems to linger so much longer.

For some of us, March means Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo (all seen on the screen from the comfort of a lounge)… followed by the end of daylight savings. By then, it’s time to consider a few additional layers for the morning ride.

Cycling at this time of the year reminds us of our growing relationship with USB ports and chargers and the various accoutrements that come with trying to light up our rides. (Or collect data, or stay in touch with people, or shift gears, or myriad other things that, these days, tend to include an electric charge.)

The Beacon Gilet has a charging port of its own. The style used on the little red box (below) is what I call “the thinny one”. Apparently the formal name is, simply: “Micro USB”. Chances are you use the same configuration on your LED lights. These cables get a fairly solid work-out in our house: lights, cameras… action!

By my computer is a Belkin adaptor that has two USB ports at the top. I also have the SRAM eTap charger (with two USB ports) nearby. And another reliable port (happens to be Sony) that hosts a range of power cables. I’m sure there’s a similar set-up at your place.

The good news about the Métier product is the LEDs don’t sap too much power. One charge provides days of riding, lights on full-beam (ie. not flashing) and the site suggests it’ll last even longer if you select the flashing option (“70 hours”, apparently).

The battery unit (above) doesn’t require a lot of charging and it should be removed from the garment before washing. It weighs in at 56g.

The vest is delivered with a wash bag that explains: “Remove battery from garment before washing; close zips and fold garment carefully before placing in bag.”

Then, one assumes, you add the supplied ‘Métier Technical Apparel Wash’ detergent, push some buttons and walk away from the washing machine. It comes out clean. You plug it all back together and are ready to ride.

Beyond the lighting feature, a big selling point of the Beacon (that retails for 180 British pounds, ±AUD$320 according to today’s exchange rates), there is much to like about the vest, including:

  • Firm, solid zipper
  • Hydrophobic fabric (with just the right amount of stretch)
  • One zippered pocket (on the left hand side) that’s large enough to fit a phone… and maybe a Clif Bar
  • Another zippered pocket (on the right hand side) for the supplied red battery
  • Convenient openings to allow access to your jersey pockets
  • Neat reflective highlights that provide additional ‘lighting’ while riding
  • Fantastic cut – one of the most comfortable of any wind-cheating vest I’ve worn…!
  • Gripper at the base of the vest to stop it from creeping up like some other garments so like to do

There are other neat touches that received “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” of admiration when I asked a few others for their appraisal at the (outdoor) velodrome last night.

“Good idea,” came one appraisal. “Lights are bright and the on/off button is easy to use.”

This is true. The red unit snuggles into the rear left pocket and, even with thick gloves on you’re able to switch the LEDs from solid to flashing, to flashing a little faster… it’s a very natural action and pushing the large button, even through the fabric, done without any fuss.

There was plenty of other commentary offered by the ‘review team’ at the track, all of it complimentary. It passed the peer test protocol…

The cut is considered for the cyclist, with a little extra length on the rear so that it extends over your bum a little when bent over on the bike…

It took a while before the weather conditions were appropriate for testing but now that we’re out of summer and riding towards winter, this vest is off the hook and in regular use.

It provides warmth as well as lighting. It is beautifully crafted and everything clearly well considered.

This is a gilet made for bike riders by, it would seem, bike riders. It may be a little more costly than you may be used to for such an item but you’re getting more for your dollars than the usual vest.

Even without the lighting system this would be a favourite item of mine but with the inclusions of some LEDs for safety it is something that I’m confident will be a lot of use in the coming months.

Inside and out, the Métier Beacon Gilet is a quality product.

The men’s medium, complete with battery, weighs in at 281g and although the fabric is thick wind- and water-resistant, the gilet folds down into a parcel that can fit into your jersey pocket with a minimum of fuss.

Delivery is swift. From (online) order to arrival, it took less than a week.

It’s a cycling garment but not as we’ve known before. It is a bit of innovation. It is a bit of fashion. It is a bit of safety. And now is the right time to consider wearing it more often.

 

– By Rob Arnold

@ridemediaHQ

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