LEDwear Aurora LED Safety Jacket
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Updated version of the original LEDwear LED jacket we reviewed in March of 2009.
The LEDs can be cycled through three different modes for the ultimate in visibility.
See Also: LEDwear LED Backpack Cover Review
I'll admit that the new LEDwear Aurora LED jacket and the original we reviewed in March of this year are at the outer edge of the envelope when it comes to motorcycle clothing.
But I also think that the embedded LED concept has lots of potential.
For example, just as we were about to publish the article you are now reading (and after the video shown below was completed), LEDwear sent us another new embedded LED product, the LEDwear LED Backpack Cover.
The Backpack Cover is another interesting example of how this technology might be used in motorcycle products.
Or how about a waterproof LED top case cover, with a built-in LED flashlight? Or perhaps a pair of motorcycle boots?
LEDs are the lighting source of the future, no doubt about it -- and the future is here. We've been reviewing LED lights since webBikeWorld was started over 10 years ago, when LED replacement brake and tail lights were just becoming available for commercial use. We've reviewed many different LED lights and systems (see our Motorcycle LED Lighting page for a listing), and have been big fans of the technology ever since.
Now 10 years on, it's not uncommon to see motorcycles, cars and trucks with LED brake and tail lights that were installed as original equipment at the factory. LEDs are also now starting to be used in headlights, and I'm sure someday soon they will replace incandescent bulbs in that role also.
Good news for motorcyclists, because LEDs have several important advantages over incandescent bulbs: LEDs last way longer than incandescent lights.
They require very little power; they're very resistant to vibration; small LEDs produce almost no heat; and, as you can see here, they can now be embedded in clothing and other products in a way that no incandescent can match. For motorcycle use, LEDs are frequently used to improve visibility, and they most certainly do that in the LEDwear Aurora jacket.
So even though the LEDwear Aurora LED jacket may not have been designed solely for motorcycle use, we're hoping that this article will also attract the interest of the manufacturers of motorcycle gear that visit webBikeWorld. There is a great deal of potential for the incorporation of LEDs into all sorts of different products, and hopefully we'll see more of that someday soon.
The redesign has made the jacket sleeker-looking and more like something that might be found in a bicycle shop or worn by a runner. The LEDs are now incorporated or embedded into the fabric itself, rather than into the reflective strips that were sewn on to the original LEDwear jacket (review).
This makes the jacket look a little less like something that would be worn by a safety crew and more like something you would want to wear when riding, walking, running or bicycling.
The Aurora jacket has 10 white LEDs in front, located at the upper part of the chest, and 10 red LEDs in the rear, located across a flap that covers a large zippered storage pocket.
As you can see in the video below, each time the button is pressed, the LEDs still cycle through the fast on/off...on/off "Police/Emergency" style blinking to a steady on/off blinking to always-on light to completely off.
The battery pack uses 3 AA batteries. The battery pack is carried inside the left chest in a small pocket. The membrane switch is on top of the battery pack, but I still wish the switch was incorporated into the fabric or, better yet, placed on a flap that hung from up on the chest, so it could be operated more easily, especially when wearing gloves. The LEDwear LED Backpack Cover (review) does incorporate a sort of surface mounted switch, so it can be done.
The Aurora jacket also has a fleece-lined collar, a vertical 100 mm deep by 120 mm tall pocket on the outside of the left chest that has a non-waterproof zipper (good for carrying an ID, as long as it's waterproof) but no hand pockets.
Two vertical zippers on either side under the arm uncover a mesh vent opening, and the jacket is fully lined with a mesh liner, including the sleeves. The jacket includes a horizontal flap across the upper back that covers a mesh vent, but the flap does not have a zipper; instead, it is sewn shut in sections.
The front zipper closes the entire front of the jacket, right up to the top of the collar, to keep out the wind. The rear vent does help eliminate the puffy look that can sometimes occur when wearing a light rain cover whilst riding a motorcycle.
This jacket is a size XL and it's all of that, with sleeve about 65 cm long (~26"). The body of the jacket seems a little undersized for the size, and the sleeves slightly long, so it may take one or even two sizes over to fit the Aurora jacket over a normal motorcycle jacket.
Note that we do not recommend wearing the Aurora jacket as a replacement for a protective motorcycle jacket. The LEDwear website has a photo and information indicating that the Aurora jacket has removable zip-off sleeves, which would make the body of the jacket useful for wearing over a motorcycle jacket.
However, the sleeves on ours definitely are not removable and it appears that the photo and information on the LEDwear website about removing the sleeves on the Aurora and converting it to a vest are incorrect.
The stripes seen as grey areas in the photos are actually some type of retro-reflective material, and they make the Aurora jacket highly visible when light hits them, as you can see in the photos.
It appears that the LEDs used in the jacket are the same as those used in the original LEDwear jacket. They have a very intense light, especially as the ambient light becomes dimmer.
The combination of the high-visibility lime yellow fabric color, the retro-reflective material and the LEDs make the Aurora jacket one of the most visible garments available. It can potentially be worn over many other types of motorcycle jackets to make the rider more visible.
Like the original, the Aurora also wins the visibility contest when compared to non-powered, reflective-only garments like the BikeSeen jacket we reviewed powered safety jackets and vests such as the Roadgear LED vest, the Poly Brite LED vest or the Safe Lites Beaconwear Vest with it's "GlowSkin" flat stripes that self-illuminate.
This section is repeated from our original original LEDwear jacket review. Just to be clear, this jacket is not a replacement for a motorcycle jacket; it could be worn over a motorcycle jacket for added visibility or nighttime reflectivity.
The LEDs could then be used in foggy conditions, in stop/go traffic, when pulled over to the side of the road, during maintenance, courier duty in the city, when slowing down to find addresses or any other time extreme visibility may be required.
The LEDwear Aurora jacket is a nice update to the original. The rapid evolution of the jacket indicates the strength of the concept and LEDwear's commitment to improvement.
The LEDwear jacket is highly visible, and like the original, the Aurora may also be a potential lifesaver in nasty weather situations of fog, rain or darkness. Without using the LED function, the jacket is a highly visible outer garment with excellent reflectivity.
The LEDs could be used in fog, at night, in the city, in stop/go traffic or for couriers. The jacket is light weight, can be easily stowed and has multiple uses for a variety of sports.
|wBW Review: LEDwear Aurora LED Jacket|
|Manufacturer: LEDwear (UK)||Suggested Retail Price: £49.95|
|Colors: High-visibility yellow w/white and red LEDs.||Made in: Unknown|
|Review Date: July 2009
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
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From "R.M." (7/09): "Just skimmed through the review of the LEDWear Aurora. Interesting concept, and I like the idea, but....
Those amber lights on the back are just too low. On any bike with a top box, large tail bag, or duffel strapped to a rack, I think the rear LEDs are going to be hidden. Getting them up high would eliminate this issue and also, I think, make them really stand out.
My 2 cents worth...."
From "K" (7/09): "I just read your review of the new Aurora LED jacket. After you published the first review (of the LEDwear LED jacket) this spring I was interested in making a purchase but was concerned about the ability of their XL size jacket (XL was the largest size they had), fitting over my XL motorcycle jacket.
I contacted the company, they assured me it would fit so I made the purchase and they were right it did fit. I have a Cortech HRX series 2 jacket with armor on the outside of the shoulders giving it a power ranger kind of look, but the LED jacket did fit over it. The LED jacket I have has removable sleeves so I took them off and actually use the jacket as a vest.
People have commented that the vest really increases my visibility on the bike, without having to use the lights. I do not use the lights during day light hours.
Yesterday I was touring along the south coast (Rhode Island) and ran into some intense sea fog blowing in from the ocean and over the highway. I just pulled over, and clicked on the LED's, and felt a bit more secure in knowing I had a better chance of being seen by lurking cagers. I road for about 15 miles through the fog and when I was out of the soup and back into the sunlight I just clicked off the lights and continued my ride.
The new version of the jacket looks sleeker and more like something you would wear riding. I have been very happy with the jacket and I would purchase it again and recommend it to anyone who is trying to be more visible out there on their bike. I just wanted to give my .02 cents about the product. Thank you for the updated review."