A few years ago I reviewed the Zackee turn signal gloves with some trepidation; I worried that they are another gimmicky thing that cyclists didn’t really need, more promotion of “a culture of fear” where people don’t feel safe riding a bike and only venture out if covered with lights and hi-viz clothing.
However those fingerless gloves did not get a lot of use; I live in Toronto and most of my night riding is in winter, and I need warm winter gloves.
Now Zackee has introduced what he calls winter gloves and I have been using them a lot. And a few things have changed in the three years since I first reviewed them, when I was adamant that biking shouldn’t require this kind of stuff, quoting an English writer:
In Europe's top three cycling nations -- Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands -- timorous old people cycle, women as often as men, children bike off unaccompanied to school. Cycling is not a moral manifesto or a carbon offset. It does not require DayGlo or £500 alloy wheels or attitude. Cycling is, as it should be, banal. Because it is safe.
But since then I have had a few nervous-making close calls with cars, I have put my helmet back on and even wear a yellow vest at night now, because Toronto is not yet a Copenhagen or Vancouver style bike friendly city. Cycling should be banal and safe but I have learned that it isn’t necessarily so where I live.
The winter gloves work like the fingerless ones did: a ridiculously simple system of two metal discs closes the circuit and sets the lights flashing. However it is smart enough a circuit to know when it is day or night, and adjusts the brightness accordingly.
I have learned to give up the traditional car-based right turn signal and just point in the direction I am going. And you really do get noticed with these gloves. I have actually found them most useful in the separated bike lanes, warning other cyclists of my intentions before they pass me at high speed, as so many do.
If I have one complaint it is the sizing; Zackee invests a lot of energy on their site making sure that you get the right size. And in fact, it works, they fit like a glove- if you are buying fancy Italian leather gloves. But that is too tight for cold climates, where you really want a little room in the glove; it is 32°F today and my fingertips were frozen after 15 minutes of riding. Get one size bigger than they recommend.
Some day I hope to look back and think how silly all this stuff was, the lights and vests and helmets. But right now, on a dark wintry night, they are nice things to have, and nobody misses the Zackees.
The video is unlike most of the ones you see; it actually shows the gloves being made in a Chinese factory, and makes it very clear that the CEO has personally inspected it for ethical worker treatment and fair pay. It looks it, too. More at Zackees.