There is as yet no solid, scientifically gathered, peer-reviewed evidence that loud pipes save lives. Loud clothing, however, is cited by several reputable studies—including the Hurt Report and a similar study conducted in New Zealand—as a probable contributing factor in the prevention of the sort of car-bike collisions that often feature the car driver saying something like, “I didn’t see him!” But you don’t have to give up your treasured black leather jacket to get the kind of conspicuity that makes you stand out in traffic. Olympia Moto Sports’s Nova Hi Vis safety vest not only makes you more visible, it brings a few extra features to the table, too.
First, of course, is the added visibility of the neon yellow panels. My entirely unscientific research found this color very visible from a lot farther away than the plain yellow panels on my everyday textile riding jacket. For after-dark visibility there are five reflective Scotchlite panels that Olympia says qualifies the Nova for use by U.S. military personnel—although not, I assume, for combat duty.
The goodness doesn’t stop there. The Nova combines practicality with conspicuity, thanks to the 500 denier Cordura nylon construction that adds a measure of abrasion resistance. There are four zippered front pockets, two vertical and two horizontal, and a zippered waterproof rear pocket under a flap secured by hook-and-loop. On the left front is a vinyl see-through pocket for your ID badge or parking pass, and inside the vest is a pocket for your cell phone or iPod.
The Nova is lined with a mesh material to promote air flow in hot weather, and has a microfiber-lined collar that’s a bit scratchy if you forgot to shave that morning. The drop-back design covers your lower back, handy for pilots of sportbikes with forward-leaning seating positions.
Since the Nova is meant to go over your outer layer of riding gear, Olympia put some extra thought into fit. On either side of the vest are three adjustment straps—two in the rib area and along the vest’s hem—that adjust with hook-and-loop. I wear a 2XL riding jacket, so Olympia sent me a 3XL/4XL Nova. I slacked off all the straps, put the vest on over my jacket, and snugged up the straps. A little adjustment here and there resulted in a near-perfect fit. The Nova adds some bulk, but not enough to bother me. It also adds a bit of insulation, which is welcome in these colder months; come the summer, however, I’ll probably be singing a different tune, because the Nova covers up all of the vents on my riding jacket, and the vest’s mesh lining can’t make up for that.
On balance, though, the Nova does what it’s supposed to do, as well as a bit more. It increases your conspicuity, adds a bit of abrasion resistance, and lets you carry some extra stuff. It’s way cheaper than loud pipes, too, and it won’t annoy your neighbors unless they’re sensitive to bright colors.
The Nova has a suggested retail of $79.99 and comes in sizes XS/S; M/L; XL/2XL; and 3XL/4XL. In addition to the neon yellow version I tried, the Nova also comes in neon red.
Olympia Moto Sports