Care and replacement of reflective vests- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    weirdo
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    Care and replacement of reflective vests

    ...or any other reflective clothing, I guess.

    Do you other riders who wear that stuff replace it from time to time? Do you wash it? I ask because I replaced my vest (the kind that construction flaggers use) about a year ago, after several years of use and washing, and when I brought the new vest home and held it next to the old one, the difference was staggering. I resolved to never wash my new vest and threatened my wife with boiled okra and spinach if she ever dared to attempt it.

    So, today I happened to think about my "new" vest. I can see that the inside (presumably the same color as the whole thing used to be) is much brighter than the outside in general, the shoulders/back are super faded, and the silver reflecto strips have a patchy appearance that I distinctly remember was NOT the case when I compared new to old last year. Time for a new one, I think. Does a once per year replacement sound reasonable for that stuff? Do the rest of you ever replace it for being old and faded? How long does yours last? Oh, BTW- not washing it seems to have given me a dirty faded vest rather than a clean and faded vest, so I don`t hink that helped much. But since there was no "control" group, I can`t say 100% for sure.

  2. #2
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    I don't use a vest for biking, but replacing it once a year or so probably makes sense. On highway workers, you can definitely tell the difference in visibility between a new and old vest, or really cheapo vest. On my ankle straps, the plastic-y one has remained brighter and more reflective much longer than the fabric-y one. Maybe the vests with the similar shiny bits would last longer. I don't know how they made my fluorescent green softshell jacket, it seems as bright as the day I got it, even with washing ...people on the bus say it hurts their eyes, it must have some great chemicals in it.

  3. #3
    weirdo
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    Keith Richards hurts my eyes, got a lot of chemicals in him too

    On a different note...
    What brand and model is your magic jacket, and how long ago was that day you got it? Is it mesh, any chance? Bearable even in warm weather? Do any good for cold or wet?

  4. #4
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    My Descente jacket (1 yr old I think, washed many times) is excellent in cold and wet (but if pouring I use a rain jacket), but too hot over 45F or so. In warmer weather I just have the safety triangle (ardvaark?) on my pack, and shirts from bright colors to black (not as concerned since it is light out).

  5. #5
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    I figure this is the correct forum for a comparison between an ANSI vest and a wind breaker yellow-green high visibility jacket Santa brought.

    Could have been in the what do you think about thread too, I guess.

    My ANSI vest is over 2 years old and the reflective tape bits seem to have deteriorated a bit. It is due for a wash but I think I will discard it. It didn't see a lot of sun by Rodar's standards so hasn't faded noticeably but it looks dull (grunge?). Comparing the Brooks jacket from L.L. Bean to the ANSI vest, the jacket is a brighter and lighter yellow. It shows up better on video. (Here.) Yes: 'hurts your eyes' bright. It doesn't have the reflective stripes which don't show well in day and reduce the visibility in daylight. Adding sleeve coverage makes me look a lot wider. While not what we would like in some situations, in this case 'living large' helps.

    So I evaluated a Brooks traffic yellow-green jacket and Nathan Reflex Reflective snap bands and the Red Zone 4's on the ankle as upgrades today in the mid-late afternoon.

    Method:

    Rode the shoulder of the four lane normal access bypass out and back. Counted those vehicles that took all or part of the left lane when passing me as Group1. Dually pickups and bigger had to put left tires on lane marking or further, mid sized vehicles had to nuzzle tires at least up to the white line, and sub compacts needed to put their left fenders near the line or further left to count as "gobs of room", for Group 1. Group 2 moved over in lane giving 3' or more clearance, and Group 3 (aka discourteous morons or unobservant or incompetent twits) did not allow 3' and in some cases moved toward the cyclist while passing in the lane adjacent to the shoulder and cyclist.

    I first assayed this way with bright cycling togs, and three PBSF's:

    N= 101 and 40%, 35% and 25% in each group. Scary.

    The ANSI vest gave me 45, 40, and 15%, n = 85

    The ANSI vest and the Red Zone 4s at 200 lumen flash and 45 degrees on seat post:

    N= 97: 62, 31, and 7 percent respectively.

    I got about the same with the Red Zones on the helmet, the Hotshot between my DIY tail lights, 8% not moving over enough IMHO.

    The Brooks jacket, the Nathan Reflex reflective snap bands with the Red Zones on 60 lumen non flashing mode, the same DIY tail lights and the Hotshot as before:

    N= 58: 79, 19, 2 percent. (That single Moron in a suburban probably did not know where the right mirror was when it went by 18" from me and the vehicle hit the fog line about 300' down the road, so I suspect cell phone use and lane wandering.) I also need a larger sample size to confirm such a small number in Group 3.

    Analysis:

    Traffic density was less so fewer drivers were limited in how far left they could go, and that will have affected results some. Different days of the week may have an effect, but they were about the same solar time of the day (light angles and all were sunny days). I don't have replications to determine variation in readings with the same set up, though I did recount the ANSI vest with different lights and the grouping was very similar. Some drivers may have seen me one or more times and been habituated, I did not video the rides to take out repeats.

    If we assume that these numbers reflect drivers actually seeing *and* adjusting for a cyclist in the first two groups, and the lower sample size today is not affected overmuch by traffic density, and that their isn't a significant number of drivers being trained by sequential exposures to the weirdo on the bike, then we have 75%, 85%, 93% and 98% response to visibility items. I would suggest that 98% is getting close to 'as good as it gets'.

    So the morons dropped from 25% to 15% (a 40% improvement) adding the ANSI vest, another 50% drop by adding lights that work in daylight at a usable up to a good distance, and finally by adding vibrant yellow to the sleeves and marking the up and down of the legs with lights and reflective bands to say 'bike' at a distance, gave another 70% improvement. Total improvement in moronic driving: 92%.

    Not bad, not bad at all.

    BrianMc

  6. #6
    Wierdo
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    Your jackets and vests will last longer if you wash them using a non-detergent cleaner. I use a product by NikWax called TekWash and it seems to work well. You can buy it online and I have also purchased it at REI.

  7. #7
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    Not many washes (one?) on the vest. Hence the grungy? comment. Though not water proofed AFAIK, the reflective parts of the vest may do a lot better with TekWash. Certainly the new jacket is waterproofed and needs the right cleaner. Thanks for the tip.

    BrianMc

  8. #8
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    Interesting research Brian, that seems like a significant difference. Do you keep track in your head? If so, I guess your memory is unaffected by your heavy metal problems - I would lose track.

  9. #9
    weirdo
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    Wow, Brian- your work is commendable! I guess the numbers (which I must admit I don`t understand very well) speak for themselves, but in all honesty, I don`t see much difference in the vest/jacket videos. Your lighting videos often show really amaizng differences between Product A and Product B.

    Since the last time this thread was active, I`ve stopped to interview a dozen or so construction workers and had a conversation about the issue with a buddy who is also a bike commuter and is interresed in visibility. Since I didn`t take notes, I know my info isn`t as useful as Brian`s, but here are a few tidbits. First off, I`m the only oinky who doesn`t bathe, err... who doesn`t wash his grungy vest. I`ll look for some of that non-detergent cleaner stuff that Woodway suggested, but when I asked about washing, nobody else happened to bring up that they DID wash, but only with special procedures. Most of the construction people couldn`t tell me how often they replaced their gear, apparently they don`t worry about it as much as I`d think. The big thing that I noticed is that everybody with solid jackets or vests (including my cycling buddy) had very sharp and bright colors. Among the people with mesh gear (like mine), there was a whole range of brightness from equally vivid as the solid material gang to faded worse than my own vest. That might be the key to how long it lasts, but I`m sticking with mesh.
    Recalculating....

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Interesting research Brian, that seems like a significant difference. Do you keep track in your head? If so, I guess your memory is unaffected by your heavy metal problems - I would lose track.
    It 'feels' different. Not so many 'WTF' moments with Pickup mirrors whooshing by inches from my ear.

    I found a musical chant of the three counts in succession synced to pedal cadence, worked and recording immediately after the ride. Otherwise, I would forget how many were in the groups I had not added to with the latest vehicle. Now that you mention it, this was easier this time, almost as easy as the first ones. So things are improving, which is good as I am spending enough on supplements countering the effects!

    It would be a chore to get the replications needed to establish statistical validity. Though Chi Square comparisons could be done to confirm they are unlikely to sample the same ratios. The first and last are different, no need for the test.

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Wow, Brian- your work is commendable! I guess the numbers (which I must admit I don`t understand very well) speak for themselves,

    *** Basically very nice cautious drivers, nice cautious drivers, and incautious/hostile drivers. Better visibility at longer distances translated into improved driver behavior.

    ...but in all honesty, I don`t see much difference in the vest/jacket videos. Your lighting videos often show really amaizng differences between Product A and Product B.
    *** Agreed to a point. The reflective band reduces the apparent size of the vest. I also can catch a glimpse of the jacket behind the evergreen tree much easier on the ride into the sun and over the hill. Riding into the sun to the camera, I needed to reset the camera, but overexposed the video, so you can't see the difference. Washed out is washed out. Adding the sleeves was the big effect which I elected not to video (easier changeovers for me). My width seems bigger and is the trait i think is responsible for most of the difference, though the undiluted (by a stripe) impact of a back that bright counts in there too. I'd guess brightness difference is just noticeable and a washed vest might close that gap.

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Since the last time this thread was active, I`ve stopped to interview a dozen or so construction workers and had a conversation about the issue with a buddy who is also a bike commuter and is interresed in visibility. Since I didn`t take notes, I know my info isn`t as useful as Brian`s, but here are a few tidbits. First off, I`m the only oinky who doesn`t bathe, err... who doesn`t wash his grungy vest. I`ll look for some of that non-detergent cleaner stuff that Woodway suggested, but when I asked about washing, nobody else happened to bring up that they DID wash, but only with special procedures. Most of the construction people couldn`t tell me how often they replaced their gear, apparently they don`t worry about it as much as I`d think. The big thing that I noticed is that everybody with solid jackets or vests (including my cycling buddy) had very sharp and bright colors. Among the people with mesh gear (like mine), there was a whole range of brightness from equally vivid as the solid material gang to faded worse than my own vest. That might be the key to how long it lasts, but I`m sticking with mesh.
    On the hottest days here, mesh would be nice or a jersey that color. I have a medium canary yellow jersey from Yellow Jersey.org that I can use comfortably once another 10 pounds come off. Santa also brought a reflective band that will allow the jacket as much night visibility as the vest, or it can go around a bag on the rack.

    BrianMc

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