27 March 2009

Man's Urban Cycling Jacket

men man cycling bicycling jacket coat reflective DIY

men man cycling bicycling jacket coat reflective DIYFor the last year we've been hunting for an urban cycling jacket for a man. We had many criteria: light color, ease in the shoulder, amenities for cyclists - some of which had to be compromised in order to buy a jacket off the rack.

men man cycling bicycling jacket coat reflective DIYWe found a good start at a Christmas-time Orvis Warehouse Sale for $35. The fit isn't perfect but it makes a good prototype. It has working buttonholes on the sleeves, which makes me very happy! It has a Norfolk jacket pleats allowing more reach and a double vent back, which is easier on a saddle.

I bought 3M Scotchlite reflective tape and piping. Now it's time to make this jacket reflective! My husband just wants a swath of reflective tape along the waistband, but that's not enough of a challenge for this crazy lady. Have any of you seen particularly clever examples of subtle and transformable conspicuity? (yes I know that's something of an oxymoron)

DIY cycling jacket in actionHere's what I've done so far:
1). Added tape along the inner edge of the cuffs such that when he folds them back there is reflection.
reflective tape cycling jacket bicycle safety

2). Added tape along the underside of the collar, so that when he stands it up there is reflection.
reflective cycling coat
We both want some kind of reflection along the back of the coat, and just differ in how to accomplish this. Some ideas include:
  1. Just sew some tape on there already! (owner of the coat's idea).
  2. Add a back off triangle to the center vent back. It could snap up hidden into the coat when not in use and unsnap down below the flap when he's riding.
  3. Similar to above, but using 3MScotchlite, a flap on the back that was a few inches and folded up into the jacket and folds down to reveal a reflective strip.
  4. Add some more subtle reflective cord along the seam lines of the shoulder gussets and down along the vents, I'd like to add piping but Orvis did too good a job of sewing it closed. I would also appliqué a piping-like stripe of 3MScotchlite along the sleeve seams for side visibility.
  5. Sew along various seam lines with reflective, but not metallic, thread (I've never seen such a thing, just heard about it, seems it's used on EMT's coats)
  6. Add a soft elastic reflective belt which comes out of the front pockets and clips in back when he wants to be reflective.
  7. Add a center back pocket (like in a jersey but with an invisible zipper) , the doing of which I would outsource to a tailor. If we did that I could add a blinky hanger and store the blinky in that pocket.
  8. Add screen printing with EZ Print Reflecto.
  9. Other ideas you might share with us?
We'd really love your feedback on this project!

UPDATE: Looks like the New York Times discovered Rapha doing something similar, but they don't have it available to buy.


Jon said...

How about putting shooting patches on each shoulder, along with elbow patches. Use Illuminite (or other, similar brand) reflective material.

Example: http://www.tweed-jacket.com/JACKET%20PAGE/Tweed%20Shooting%20Jacket.html

Carice said...

I've struggled with this issue and ended up just wearing my reflective sash and putting more lights on my bike. I sure wish Illuminite made more "street" clothes because that's the perfect solution- subtle in daylight and form outlining when reflective.
I like the idea of following the back seams with something reflective. It seems like there's a built in "belt" at the back which as you say would be reasonable place to add a invisible pocket which could either hold a blinkie, or a less bulky fold out of reflective material.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

I have reflective piping in my ground effects cycling jacket. It looks very normal in regular conditions and really pops when hit by a cars headlights. The piping would work I think.

lagatta à montréal said...

No way I'd wear light colours! Not in the style culture here, and I'm not tall and slim (the only people who can get away with such colours).

I have made myself a reflective sash to be more visible at night and am thinking of other features - perhaps a little blinkie light on the sash?

Thinking of ways to improve visibility, while remaining chic.

Anonymous said...

the jacket is almost long enough to be a car coat, and one of the features I like about my car coat is the waist belt that can help cinch the coat in windy weather. Maybe a reversible waist belt with one side as regular fabric and another as reflective?

Otherwise, both the girl and I have cycling jackets from Craft and O2 that use some subtle reflective piping along the seams (similar to your 4 or 5), and they generally work well when lit up by headlights.

Chris B said...

What about putting some 3M Scotchlite reflective tape inside the pleats. It looks like the pleats only expand when your husband is stretching for the handlebars.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have him well covered for dapper days, but if he's still looking for something more casual, here are two you should look at, if only for inspiration:



Anonymous said...

My first thought was leave the jacket as is, instead add reflectors to the helmet or a strategic spot on the bike.
Option 2 provides more of a challenge for the budding seamstress: Into the front bottom pockets, sew some sort of flaps that can be folded away (into the pockets) when not required but can easily be pulled out to sort of flap away while riding. They would then sit at the side of the hips, so be visible from behind, side and front.

You heard it here first. Martin, Melbourne.

lagatta à montréal said...

Charlotte, look at this bicycle! http://montreal.fr.craigslist.ca/bik/1095802462.html (The price is Canadian dolaritos, of course). Lovely thing, but for tall gals only.

Luc said...

Very very nice
Big thumb up

Carlos said...

Three recommendations for off-the-rack bike-friendly jackets:




Ray said...

I really think you are onto something.
A well-designed jacket for cycling is a nice addition to a wardrobe.

I appreciate your style sense with this particular retrofitting.

Flap under the tail of the jacket.

That's a useful item in rain with OR without fenders and can easily be tucked underneath with button(s) or snap(s).

I like the idea for the stitching too, but could be a rather expensive upgrade.

The only other thing I could think of was elbow patches but Jon beat me to it. Perhaps a two-piece reflective tape (both sides reflective) with a buckle that snaps around the back and each half-tape can roll/fold to store in small pockets-within-the-front-pockets.
Deployment might be too involved for the user, I realize.

You may also check out the design of a Johnson Woolen Mills double cape jac-shirt which I think might serve as a good base for a windbreaker weatherproof style jacket. Not dressy, however the yoke beneath the cape could be vented with mesh for ventilation as in many cycling jackets.

Trisha said...

I love this project! The piping sounds like the best idea to me, but that would probably be complicated. Hope you'll post a final picture once you decide on something.

Charlotte said...

I will definitely post when it's done.

I wish the piping were easier, I'll have to save it for the coat I make entirely from scratch. I have the fabric ready to go, just lack the time.

Carlos and Anonymous, thanks for those links. They aren't quite what my husband was going for, but I think they'll be useful for others, particularly that Chrome jacket. I wish I'd seen that sooner! In a more clickable format, here they are:
Blue windbreaker
Like mine but darker and more urban (Chrome)
Like mine, but lots more expensive

She Rides a Bike said...

I love the very man-chic jacket. We care about visibility and use neon yellow covers that came with our Nashbar panniers for visibility during the day. And are they! At night I am a firm believer in head and rear lights.

I recently bought a jcrew jacket for myself in mustard yellow that makes me feel quite visible. Maybe check out LLBean's barn jacket for similar colors.

Carlos said...

Another suggestion is Rapha's tweed softshell. WAAAAAYYYYY too expensive to ever actually ride in, but if you can find one at one of those high-end stores Boston is known for, you might want to give it a good once-over to see how it's sewn together and to get some ideas.


Burton said...

If you work this out, I'll beat a path to your door. Currently, I ride in either an Austrian felted wool car coat type thing, or a regular tweed sportcoat. For me, wool is the best for riding when it's cool. Neither coat is perfect though, so I've been thinking through what a good urban riding coat would have, and you're very close. I'd been thinking of something along the lines of a hacking jacket (riding a horse is a lot like riding a bike) but softer and with a collar that can be easily flipped up. The jacket pleats are key, as is the double vent. Your sleeve idea is AWESOME, especially good for signaling at night. And the reflective tape under the collar is great. I don't think you need much more than that, presuming you've got some reflexite on your helmet and a flashy or two. Any more technical gee-gaws and the coat might begin to look cycling-specific.

Anonymous said...


I am a diy woman motorcyclist/bicyclist/pedestrian to work.

It is much more fun to customize/mod my own stuff, even if in the long run it costs more (usually doesn't) anyway, above is a link to a mom and pop company that sells reflective "yarn""thread". You'll have to hand stitch, but hey, all the more fun.

I'm going to use it in my upcoming winter crochet projects.

Tyra said...

Looking great cycling jacket and thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.

Carlos said...

Yet another cycling jacket geared toward the commuter. A bit pricey, but some of the design specs could be incorporated into a DIY project for anyone who knows their way around a sewing machine. (I wish I did.):


QZB said...

Just discovered your blog, which I love. Cordarounds makes trousers with reflective piping inside, that shows when you turn up your cuffs and flip out your back pockets. In addition, they make an urban jacket that is reversible, to display reflective piping along the seams for night time riding. Both of these ideas could easily be adapted by a home sewer of even limited ability. Thanks for the wonderful blog!