Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ obviously never eyed-up someone in a Classic Softshell. With that in mind, judging the correct piece of outerwear to cover yourself in before a ride can be even more important than deciding which way to cook your eggs in the morning. Do you know your Softshell from your Hardshell? Your Transfer Jacket from your Hi-Vis Gilet? You’d think it would be easy enough. To help prepare for winter here is a (somewhat subjective) guide to the best Rapha jackets for AW12.
Weatherproof outer shell cut from Rapha’s answer (conquering riposte) to Gore-Tex.
When the conditions get tough – i.e. wet, windy and cold – the tough needn’t be a problem.
Road riders who know the difference between bad weather and bad clothing.
Thermal Bib Shorts or Winter Tights/ Winter Base Layer or Long Sleeve Jersey (In the city: Merino Jersey or Polo/ Rapha Trousers or Jeans).
“…it is ‘hard’ in the sense that it laughs in the face of adversity; bullying the weather into submission rather than simply shrugging off its worst efforts.”
– Brian Palmer, (washingmachinepost.com)
Classic Softshell Jacket*
The most versatile cycling jacket in the world.
From autumn through to early spring, this jacket keeps core temperature stable. A thoroughbred amongst jackets.
Road riders, commuters and even mountain bikers.
Base layer on mild days, add a long sleeve jersey on top when colder. Also looks just at home with jeans as it does with ¾ bibs.
“[Proof that] bike gear needn’t commit crimes against fashion.”
– The Independent (London)
Emergency layer for rides when you don’t know where the weather will take you.
Sudden showers, rides into the mountains, Irish weather (it’s also windproof).
The intrepid road cyclist who needs to ride come rain or shine. Racers, sportivists and cyclo-tourists.
Any kind of Rapha racing and training gear. In winter: ideally stowed in the back pocket of a Winter Jersey
“The first time we used it was on a 200-mile super-mountainous ride in the Pyrenees when it rained for hours on end, and it kept the water out without any trouble.”
Robust and windproof vest for winter rides.
From damp city streets at night to frosty country lanes at daybreak.
The cyclist who wants to be seen, but also stay streamlined and stylish.
Lightweight and stretchy enough to be worn over a jersey or jacket.
“Leaving the house at 5am in winter requires visibility from the front door out into the countryside. So designing a fluro pink gilet was a no-brainer.”
– G. Raeburn (early riser)
Classic Softshell material with good storage capacity, but without arms or a storm tail.
From autumn through to spring, incubating your core temperature.
True winter warriors, Belgian barrouders, etcetera.
Thermal Shorts, Leg warmers, Long Sleeve Jersey, Oversocks.
“You don’t know what you’re missing (apart from the sleeves, obviously).”
– Joe Hall
City Rain Jacket
Versatile jacket for everyday cycling and city living.
Wet, gritty, city weather. This jacket is extremely water resistant, insulating, windproof and is cut to look good wherever you find yourself.
From the city riding dandy to the hardcore commuter.
Rapha Trousers or Jeans/ any kind of merino mid-layer.
Having a Rapha City Rain Jacket in the wardrobe, or hidden in the bike bag, brings a wry smile to any rainy day. When you look out the window at enough water smashing out the sky to sink the bravest heart and drown most waterproofs and realise it’s mostly irrelevant with this Rapha jacket on.
Review on road.cc by VecchioJo ****½
Rapha’s slimline interpretation of the ‘sleeping bag’ jacket.
Any travelling, warming up/ down, resting, or ‘chilling by the campfire’ should be done in this slimline insulator (you can also commute in it).
Everyone and anyone needs one of these.
On top of race kit with merino hat, or with jeans and wellington boots at a cross race.
“I think I’ll need to buy two. I’ll be using mine for post-race driving and bacon-sandwich-eating, but I know my wife will nick it from under my nose as it’s the perfect dog-walking jacket…”
– Ben Brown (dog owner)
*Women’s versions also available | _Jackets not featured_: “Classic Wind Jacket, Pro Team Jacket”:http://www.rapha.cc/shop/jackets