Volvo's LifePaint product caused a bit of stir in the cycling world when it was launched in October. Cyclists went into a frenzy for it, first clearing out thousands of free samples in just a few days and then buying cans on eBay for up four times its face value.
But there was also a backlash, with many cycling activists accusing Volvo of a ‘victim blaming’ mentality. We’re not going to get into the politics here, only the product.
LifePaint is just for textiles. It will settle on a helmet or bike frame but doesn’t stick and brushes off at the first touch. It’s more robust on clothing but still only lasts for around a week (depending on use) and comes off in the wash, though it’s okay in the rain.
It sprays on and dries quickly and invisibly. A single spray settles like glitter – it needs intense application to create a significant reflective area, such as the lower leg of a jean, and that takes about half a can.
Tested with a mobile phone camera set to flash, there is some reflectivity but it isn’t very bright even close up. From 20m back it’s barely visible at all whereas reflective details built into jeans are still bright.
The paint is also more angle sensitive. Long-term, with regular reapplication, it’s likely to get expensive and tiresome.