It’s amazing how many cyclists (and I include myself in this bracket) refuse to wear garish reflective clothing to make themselves more visible on the bike at night despite numerous close shaves and worse as we battle with London traffic. As someone who cycles to work, to the pub and down the shops I steadfastly refuse to look like a plonker the moment I dismount and become, no longer a cyclist, but a pedestrian, cinema goer, or shopper. But the bright sparks at Lumo have given us the option of both looking stylish and visible to night-time traffic.
Lumo started as an idea a few years ago when one of its founders, Doug Bairner, was knocked off his bike, again, because as the driver apologetically informed him, he just didn’t see him. Reluctant to resort to the fluorescent offerings on the market, he and partner Lucy Brown spent months scouring for a stylish jacket that could be worn on the bike without danger of not being seen at night but at the same time allowing the rider to feel comfortable walking into the office or bar. It was a fruitless search. So in true entrepreneurial style they decided to make one themselves.
What they came up with is genius. First: design a good looking jacket that’s comfortable to ride in but with all the technical wind and waterproof features you’d expect. With the help of designer Rob Freeman (ex-Nigel Cabourn and now designing for Farah) they made a classic black Harrington jacket: casual enough to wear with jeans but well cut and designed so you’d be proud to be seen in it. Second, to make it visible at night, they sewed an LED light strip into the hem of the zip up front and another at the back along the bottom. The lights are completely unnoticeable unless switched on which is done by pressing a button on the USB rechargeable battery pack discreetly tucked into an inside pocket. And when they’re switched on, I can tell you that no London minicab driver can ever tell you again that, “Sorry mate, but I just didn’t see you.”
What I love about Lumo is how they’ve successfully gone from drawing board design to final product without compromising on what they initially set out to do: make a lovely piece of clothing that is stylish, practical for cyclists and visible at night. They’ve incorporated cycling specific details like the cool pocket at the back, blended the Gabardine cotton with 3% elastane for added stretch in the riding position, and made it breathable yet water resistant to persistent showers. Their signature detail, the polka dot lining on the pocket flaps and inside hem give it originality and class. Yup, this jacket fits Lumo’s brief of being, “Designed for the eye, built for the bike.”
I was very lucky to try out their Regent’s Parka jacket which they bill as a futuristic adaptation of the 1960s parka. So firstly, looks: this is a lovely jacket. It’s become my go-to, everyday jacket for spring days and summer evenings. It’s understated but cool, and like the Harrington, can be worn by all, young or not so young. It’s not exclusively cool, but anyone who knows anything about clothes will recognize its heritage and, well, coolness. Unlike the Harrington it has a hood with peak which feels kinda urban and fixie but not ridiculously so.
Secondly, performance: I really like the texture of the fabric, “a sleek wool exterior” and it’s very comfortable to wear on the bike. Even for someone cursed (or blessed?) with orangutan arms like myself will find that the sleeves never ride up when leaning forward for the drops. It also has a stretchy feel so you don’t feel restricted as one might with a jacket not designed for cycling in mind. Even though we’re laughably at the start of summer the recent weather has been decidedly nippy and the Regent’s wind and waterproof features have kept me both warm and dry, yet cool when the sun has made a rare appearance. Forget those crisp packet materials that generate a layer of condensation on the inside: this jacket really is breathable, thanks to its rather scarily named “Bionic Climate Membrane.”
At Ride Velo we’re loathe to resort to rating products out of ten or giving them stars. Just seems a bit crass. But this really is a 10/10, 5 star product. Sorry for the crassness, but there's a reason the Design Museum decided to showcase Lumo's wares in their Cycle Revolution exhibition - it's already a design classic.
I can’t think of any other reason why you shouldn’t buy a Lumo jacket if you’re an everyday cyclist: it’s classy, has great looks, it’s practical, beautifully made from great materials, visible at night, well-priced and well, cool.
Husband and wife team, Doug and Lucy, set up Lumo in 2014/2015 after raising £50,000 through Kickstarter, then developing their business by raising a quarter of a million pounds on Crowdcube. And they’re not standing still. In development they have a bomber jacket, gilet and messenger bag which we'll bring you more details of next month.
This isn’t one of those corporate products benefiting from a massive R&D budget. It’s been designed and created by an independent British company who are passionate about their product and have put their life and soul into bringing it to the market. So there’s another good reason to buy a Lumo jacket too.
Check out LUMO on www.lumo.cc for details of their Regents Parka, Herne Hill Harrington, Bermondsey Backpack, Camden Polo and Wembley Cap.