This winter has been brutal, with record cold temps and crazy weather patterns. If you were brave enough to get outside and ride – you know a good winter kit goes a long way. Rapha’s newest winter offerings came to us at the perfect time, just as the snow was falling and the wind was howling.
Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket
A good winter jacket can be the keystone of a long-ride winter training day. Something that won’t get clammy or overheat – it’s like you need the jacket to react to your body. That’s what the Rapha Pro Team Winter jacket does, it’s warm where you need it and vented where you don’t. The construction and fabrication of the jacket are exquisite. The materials and attention to detail show this piece can go the long haul and will be around for winters to come.
The front of the jacket is wind and waterproof. In contrast, the sides and rear are breathable brushed fleece to help regulate the body temperature. The collar isn’t too high and fits at just the right height to zip fully without a tight feeling on the bike.
At first, the jacket seemed too short but on the bike, I noted the lack of bulk quickly. There are no crazy pocket designs or out-of-the-box elements, just super solid construction and quality components. All zippers are YKK Vislon and operate with ease. Something that is very nice when you’re trying to operate a zipper with bulky gloves while riding. The rear pockets are double layered with added reinforcement for constant winter use.
ON the bottom of the jacket is a leg gripper-like material that keeps the piece in place. The super white Rapha logos stand out nicely on the forest green fabric and double reflective elements in the rear of the jacket. Other reflective pieces are on the bicep and cuff. Disguised in Rapha’s six-bar logo this accentuates the design of the jacket while giving it some extra safety features. For super cold days, this is my go-to jacket. Most of my winter riding has been on the trails or less-traveled roads and this piece ate the cold headwinds for breakfast. The thick winterproof front kept me warm on the coldest rides and I never overheated.
I attribute the jacket’s acclimatization to the sides’ open design and back paired with micro-wicking brushed fleece on the front. The pockets are easy to get to in a hurry and have a small elastic band to keep items and bottles safe. The cuffs are tight and seemed too tight at first but on the open road, I quickly noticed that no air found its way in. I would have liked to see a zipper pocket in the rear like other winter jackets.
I appreciate the zippered breast pocket but the thin mesh inner can rip if you’re storing keys or something with an unfinished edge. All in all, this is my go-to winter jacket, and I do believe it’s worth the money. Just make sure you follow the washing instructions to keep the reflective elements intact and shrinkage at a minimum.
Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket comes in Green/Dark Green (tested), Purple/Dark Navy, and Black/White. Available in sizes X-Small to XX-Large – Price: $250
Rapha Explore Winter Tights
Some of us are nearing the end of winter (fingers crossed) but these garments transcend a traditional winter range. The tights are perfect for temperatures ranging from 40 deg down to the single digits. The breathability and wicking characteristics of the brushed fabric allow the bib tights to dry quickly. Rather than going for a full wind/waterproof front, Rapha opted for a DWR coating to reduce bulk.
The DWR coating keeps out the elements and the warmth inside. I like the ease of movement with these bib tights. Some with a wind front outer have less movement and are cut with an articulated knee. Resulting in lots of stitching to abrade and annoy. If you like the Rapha Crago Bib, chances are you’re gonna love this tight. It’s covered in pockets, some thin, some waterproof, and zippered. All the pockets are unnoticeable on the bike and don’t affect the fit of tight. The pockets I use the most are the non-zip mid-thigh pocket and the zippered rear pocket.
One pocket for grabbing quick food, the other for car keys or what have you. As most who ride long days in adverse weather know – pockets are a premium when you’re caring extra bottles and extra supplies for the ride.
A top-notch winter tight is nothing without a ride all day chamois and the Rapha Winter Tight delivers. I’m a fan of the Rapha chamois, they never deviate, I know I’m getting something predictable. The chamois is a two-piece design, part of the Rapha Brevet line. The sculpted shape feels natural on the bike and covers completely no matter what position you’re riding in. I can spend hours in this tight without posterior discomfort – something that is rare for me on long low-intensity winter rides.
My favorite element of the bib is the reflective flair. If you’re outside riding in this weather chances are it’s in a low-light situation. Half of the entire rear leg is reflective; the material and added elements. Though the black fabric isn’t great for visibility in low light, the reflective elements help propel this bib into a safer category. $325 is a hefty asking price for a cycling garment. If you spend a lot of time riding outside in the winter and take your comfort as seriously as your exploring, Rapha’s Explore Winter Tight should be on your shortlist.
Rapha’s Explore Winter Tight is available in sizes X-Small to XX-Large. Available in Black and Navy Blue – Price:$325.00
Rapha Deep Winter Sock
If your feet are always cold in the winter and you’re looking for all the warmth you can get, the Rapha Deep Winter socks are it. These socks are supremely comfortable, the construction is robust but delicate around the subtle argyle texture.
The merino wool blend is a near-perfect material for sock construction; it’s warm even when wet, it’s soft and doesn’t smell! The only shortcoming is it can be pricey and moths love to eat holes in it during the summertime. The Rapha Deep Winter Socks are a thick sock but no so much that you won’t be able to wear your summer shoes. The sock is long and comes up to just under the knee, if it comes at your knee, the cuff easily folds over without digging into the calf. The windproof front is hardly noticeable when you touch the socks but highly noticed when riding. At $35 Rapha’s Deep Winter Socks are right on the mark with most high-end ski and snowboard socks. I highly recommend these if you’re feet get cold on rides and you’re not a winter shoe kind of rider.