The idea behind the Triumph Light Jacket has been around in concept form for a few years. Taking advantage of the low power draw, high brightness and compact size of modern LEDs, lights are incorporated into the jacket and vest to enhance rider visibility on the road. Much more effective than reflective materials, which rely on a direct light source, the dazzling lights should actively draw the attention of dozy car drivers, perhaps even distracting them from texting. Incorporated into riding garments with virtually no weight and no compromise to wearability, this sounds like a great safety solution, right? Well, it is, but Triumph screwed it up in one important way.
Excuse me while I geek out for a second. The latest advances in LED technology have revolutionized portable illumination. I’ve got a light on my keychain, powered by a single AAA, that’s brighter than a two D-Cell Maglite and can operate continuously for up to 50 hours. That was before I modified it to put out over 200 Lumens. It costs $24. Other lights in my drawer go over 350 Lumens and can stay on, continuously mind you, for 30 days. With lifespans of 50,000 hours or more, the bulbs will essentially last a lifetime.
The LEDs in this jacket and the Triumph Light Vest aren’t of that high-power, designed to illuminate bright and far variety, they simply light up brightly to draw attention. As such, they’ll have a very low power draw, even with the 16 (yes, 16) bulbs built into the vest. Despite that, max burn time is just five hours.
Five hours is likely enough for a day or two’s commuting or a short trip, but it’s not enough for long tours or day-long operation in the hands of, say, a courier. People spending all day working on bikes in urban environments stand to benefit from this technology the most, yet Triumph has neglected to make the jacket applicable to them.
How so? Details of the built-in battery haven’t been released, but with such a short run time between charges (you plug the jacket in via USB) it can’t be of the latest Lithium variety. A proprietary, built-in design also means that you won’t simply be able to swap drained batteries out for a spare pair of fully charged ones. Building in compatibility for lithium AA or AAAs or even some of the whizz bang new cells like CR123s could have made the jacket and vest far more versatile and useful. A couple lithium AAAs alone could have given Triumph a run time measured in days instead of single digit hours.
The £395 jacket is essentially Triumph’s high-end, waterproof, textile riding jacket, just with the LEDs. As such expect good quality, real waterproofness and armor in all the usual places. The £165 Light Vest incorporates hi-viz colors and reflective panels and is designed to be worn over regular riding gear. American availability has not been announced.