As a writer and stay-at-home father, I have the tremendous fortune of not needing to suit up in my cycling kit every morning before rolling out onto the mean-streets of rush-hour Sacramento to do battle with the traffic. If I had an office job, however, and regular hours, I wouldn’t hesitate to join the brave few cycle-commuters who express their dedication to American transportation-reform by claiming a slice of the highway on their way to work each day.
When I bought my first road bike, knowing I wouldn’t use it in low-light, I removed the chunky plastic reflectors which were bolted to the spokes. I am well aware of the vanity of such an endeavor, but I just couldn’t stand the look of the wide, clear reflectors on my otherwise-sleek new machine. My second road-bike was purchased lightly-used, but I noticed immediately that the previous owner had likewise removed the spoke reflectors. Indeed, so do the vast majority of cyclists. It’s not just me – we’re all image-conscious when it comes to our road bikes.
I have no doubt that the designers at Cyclelogical, shortly after removing the reflectors from their bikes, stood back and stared at their wheels, briefly enjoying the cleaner, sleeker appearance. One dark, hectic rush-hour commute later, however, and I imagine they wished their bikes could be more visible to traffic approaching from the side. Many cyclists who are hit by cars on the road are broadsided by drivers at intersections who claim they did not see the cyclist passing in front of them. Spoke reflectors offer some degree of visibility in these situations, and so the Cyclelogical team set about coming up with an alternative to the traditional system of flat, wide plastic arcs which appear on most new bikes.
Chopspokes are 2″ long plastic cylinders, 1/4″ in diameter, which are coated in 3M Scotchlite reflective material. They have a glittery silver appearance under normal light, with a slit up the side where they are pushed onto your spokes. I have flat, bladed spokes on my bike, and the reflectors slid on easily and clipped securely. They are easily removed, too, but once in place, they stay put when the wheels are spinning.
If you’re familiar with Scotchlite, you’ll know it is amazing stuff. Surfaces treated with the paint appear to have their own light-source; they glow brightly and consistently, and with incredible visibility. The relatively low profile of the Chopspokes means that they remain fairly invisible on your wheel, but in low-light, with a headlight shining on them, or even the ambient light from streetlights and shops, the sticks shine brightly and clearly.
Chopspokes are small and lightweight, which will appeal to every weight-and-image-conscious cyclist on the road, but I did have a slight concern that such a small item could potentially become soiled with road dirt, thereby limiting the efficiency of the Scotchlite surface. I will have to watch how they perform over the coming weeks and months. On the other hand, they are easily removed, and could be rinsed if necessary. Traditional reflectors are not immune from road-dirt either, but they are usually screwed or bolted to the wheel, making cleaning more of a chore.
If you have committed to the cycle-commuter lifestyle, there’s a fair chance you’re down with saving the earth and preserving the environment as well as looking good on your bike. Chopspokes offer the opportunity to help save and preserve your life while not really impacting the way you look, which has to be a good thing.
Chopspokes are $7 for a pack of 8 from the Cyclelogical website.