Winter riding – it’s a love/hate relationship. We’ve all been there, standing at the window checking the weather app wondering whether we should just layer up, risk the cold and get out there, or just stay inside until next year when there’s a glimpse of warm sunshine and dry roads.
Layering has been key to keeping warm during those cold days out on the bike, but British brand Rapha have come to dispel all we know about winter layering with their newly launched Brevet Insulated Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey.
Opening the package, my first thought was that I loved the colour. On the Rapha website, the ‘red/dark red’ looks more like a shade of pink but when I received the jersey, it was a brilliant pillar-box red. It’s a great colour for making sure you are seen on those darker winter days especially with the reflective detailing, but without having to wear the luminous hi-vis yellow.
I wear a women's size small in most Rapha clothes with the exception of their Core range where I am an extra small. As this was more of a thicker jersey, I opted for a small and I'm happy I did. This women's jersey has a close to the body fit in both the torso and sleeves, curving in slightly at the waist – leaving no baggy material at the back.
The jersey is designed to provide the perfect balance between a lightweight jersey with the protection of a winter jacket, without the need for a third layer. It’s lined with active insulation to keep your temperature consistently comfortable in changeable weather. But with the jersey feeling so lightweight, I was curious to see how it was going to keep me warm and dry during my winter rides with only one additional layer.
Settling on a merino wool base layer and winter bib tights as Rapha’s website suggests, I headed out to put the new jersey to the test.
Technically, it performed exceptionally well. Despite the strong wind and light showers, the Gore-Tex Infinium windstopper technology kept me warm and dry during the changing conditions. Even my arms were protected from the elements with the tapered style sleeves. This wind-blocking effect is achieved without a highly compressive fit on the body nor the arms, leaving plenty of room for your base layer.
The one-way zip was easy to use and manageable with one hand when the efforts up the hills of Hertfordshire were making me sweat and in need of a bit of extra ventilation. In contrast to this, the high collar was a great way to keep warm when we’d stop and start again, preventing any wind from coming in and giving me the chills.
There are the standard three rear pockets on the back of the jersey and two additional zip pockets at the front. I really appreciated that additional space. In the colder months your pockets are often stuffed with jackets, arm warmers, keys, phone, inner tubes and whatever else you can cram into them! Having a zip-enclosed pocket not only provided that bit of extra room to carry essentials but also put my mind at ease, keeping my phone and keys secure.
The jersey had a drop tail with secure grips to help protect you from any road spray. This wasn’t too tight and the grippers kept the jersey firmly in place even when leaning down to the drops.
With it being a thicker jersey, I did think there wouldn’t be as much movement in the fabric. However, when riding I did not feel restricted in any way as you sometimes do with multiple layers bunched together underneath. The underarm stretch panels also helped with the flexibility of the jersey and allowed me to sit comfortably in my cycling position.
Overall I was impressed. I was warm, dry and comfortable throughout my ride despite being hit with rain, wind, and very minimal sunshine. Even with the temperatures on the mild side at the moment, it would keep you going throughout the winter season, protecting you from single-digit temperatures with minimal layering.
The jersey retails in a range of colours for £240, which is middling in the market for winter jerseys/jackets and reasonably priced for a jersey of this quality that will get lots of wear.
Buy now from Rapha