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We test the light and compact monkeysee harness

Alia Parker's picture
Detail of the monkeysee harness at dusk. Cycle Traveller

As a cyclist who spends a lot of time on the road touring Australia, I get plenty of time to chat to drivers – especially truckies and Grey Nomads. One thing a high number of them comment on is cyclist visibility.

None has ever complained about us being on the road – on the contrary, they think riding around the country on a bike is great (albeit, a little crazy and not for them) – but their concerns are real. I'll admit, as pro-everything-cycling as I am in every regard, it doesn't help our safety that the most popular kit colour among cycling apparel manufacturers is black (well, it does help our figures, I suppose).

Monkeysee fluro orange reflective stripe harness as dusk. Cycle TravellerWe like to be visible on the road, not only for our safety, but for the safety of all road users. Having said that, most of us don't like to dress like a road workers either. So lately, Simon and I have been using a cool little hi-vis product called the monkeysee Harness that we can whip out and slap on when we feel we need a bit of a visual boost on the road.

What is it?

The monkeysee harness is a small and lightweight reflective high visibility harness for the upper body. It is adjustable to fit and a neat little metal ring that connects each strap allows the harness to conform to any body shape. They can be seen from all angles – front, side and back – and do not restrict the rider's movement. It is available in small, medium and large and comes in a number of different colours with either reflective stripes or polka dots. monkeysee's chief chimp, Denise Straty says the product is predominantly designed for visibility at night, but the optional fluro colours can also help improve a cyclist's visibility during the day.

What we love

Not only do these little harnesses pack a punch when it comes to their night time reflectiveness, but it's impossible to feel like a dag in tangerine and polka dots, which is the harness I've been using (cute!). Simon has been using the more sensible, and rather manly, hi-vis orange with reflective stripes. In our experience, we find the reflective stripes to be the brighter and safer of the two options, but the polka dots still light up quite well in the night.

Monkeysee tangerine polka dot harness at dusk. Cycle TravellerWe've quickly adapted to having the monkeysee harnesses as part of our essential cycle touring gear list and I would recommend them to all cyclists, not just tourers, but roadies and commuters as well because they give you an instant safety boost when you feel you need it, especially at night.

They have been incredibly useful on days where we have found ourselves cycling into the evening to make it into a town. I personally find it comforting to be able to pop it on and know that the vehicles coming up behind me know I'm there (in combination with a good set of lights, of course).

The results

And the traffic's response has been terrific. On all occasions when we have used the monkeysee harnesses at night, vehicles have slowed down to pass us and given us a wide berth when overtaking. In deed, it did actually feel as though drivers were more cautious around us and I put that down to them knowing who and where we were well before they approached us.

This was particularly noticeable recently when we were a little late getting into Toowoomba (we are quite talkative and stop and chat to just about everyone, so we're often racing the sun). As Queensland isn't on daylight savings time, it was dark and smack bang in the middle of peak hour when we neared town.

I'm convinced the reflective cross that forms on the upper body helps drivers to identify that we are cyclists faster than they otherwise would with just our lights – and that's critical when it comes to avoiding accidents.

Another bonus is that the harnesses are lightweight and take up next to no space at all in our panniers.

Detail of the small and lightweight monkeysee reflective harness. Cycle TravellerAdditionally, as we use two of the bright colour options (there are colours like black available if riders' only want to use them for their reflective properties), we can whip them out to improve the visibility of any shirt during the day, which is very handy because as cycle travellers we are limited in the clothes we can carry.

Why wear it?

The time is takes for a driver to recognise that there is an obstacle on the road is critical when it comes to avoiding accidents – seconds matter.

For instance, a great little infographic on the Australian Federal Police's website shows that if a child were to run out on the road 45 metres in front of a car travelling at 70km per hour, the average driver will have already have generally travelled almost 29 metres before they've had time to react and hit the brakes. This means they would hit the child at a speed of 46km per hour. The AFP says the reaction time of the driver in the example is generic as it is impacted by a number of factors, including vision.

monkeysee harness in the day. Cycle Traveller gear reviewAnything that helps a driver to respond faster – even split seconds faster – has the potential to make a huge difference to the reaction time and could be the difference between life and death.

As cyclists, we put our lives in the hands of the drivers around us, and making sure we can be seen on the road is one small thing we can do to help improve our safety.

Images from top: 1. The monkeysee harness is small when folded. 2. Simon wearing the hi-vis fluro orange harness with reflective stripes at dusk. 2. Alia wearing the tangerine harness with reflective polka dots at dusk. 3. Detail of reflective stripes at dusk. 4. Fluro orange harness brigtens a dull shirt during thee day.


i have one of these and they are great

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