Thursday October 23rd, 2014

Simply looking at the new Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket during daylight hours won’t splash your eyes with reflective light. But at night, even in rain-soaked conditions, expect something far different.

When artificial light hits the Sugoi offering, the brand-new pixel-woven fabric bursts with visibility, a surprisingly bright reveal of reflection.

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As studies show that reflection, not high-visibility neon colors, make the difference in getting noticed on the road, cycling companies have upped their effort to add reflection on performance gear. Sugoi decided to forgo the swaths of reflection for an entire burst of it for rain-heavy nighttime riding.

The new nylon-shell biking jacket—a drop tail covers the lower back and seat from tire spray—features a waterproof shell to handle the icky weather approaching, but that isn’t anything new.

The “zap” fabric is the most important feature here.

Micro-glass beads were woven into the fabric of the shell. When hit with artificial light, the glass beads pop with reflection, turning a dark rider into a bright rider with the hit of your high beams. Used across the entirety of the garment, the entire jacket becomes a source of visibility instead of just pockets of reflection.

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Rob Gill, Sugoi’s vice president of design, tells Edge they wanted the jacket to look completely normal during the day, but fully illuminated at night. “The frequency and size of the small dots make this happen,” he says.

With the need for artificial light to activate the affect, daylight conditions allow riders to not distract with a wild look. To work only with artificial light, Gill says they played with direction. “Ambient, natural light hits the jacket from 360 degrees,” he says. “Artificial light is much more directional and points right back at the viewer.”

In those rainy nights, expect a splash of reflective brightness with your water-soaked ride.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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