Our follow up to winter riding clothing begins. After a bit of use in typical riding conditions, we now begin the follow up on this post here, where we looked at a sampling of technical cycling clothing for the moderate winters of the Southern California Fall-Winter season. We continue with Rapha.

Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey

Rapha – Baguettes, anyone?

Winter Windproof Jersey $240.00

Rapha Winter Windproof JerseyIt was very interesting, using this garment, as it begs to be compared to something like the Bontrager Starvos 180 Softshell Jacket, although it sure looks different, feels different, and wears differently than that piece does. What we have here in the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey is a good old Merino wool blend in a heavy-weight cut of cloth. It is a significant piece of clothing and there is some weight and substance here. It feels fabulous pulling this on, and the cut is favorable to a riding position rather than just walking around. It is just right in the sleeve length, so that likely means it is generous as I have longish arms, and the torso is good too, although on the roadie cut side in front, but that prevents bunching up when you are leaned well forward (obviously Rapha is road centric, but we won’t hold that against them). Where most wool blend jerseys fall down, is when the wind cuts though them, as the knitted fabric only goes so far to help in that regard.

What this jersey has uniquely going for it is a windproof panel over the front/chest/shoulders that allows this garment to fend off icy blasts better than it could sans said panels. And it is effective too. The long zipped vents that sit on each side, vertically, right between your pecs and your armpits, reach nearly from the bottom of your ribcage to your collarbones and allow air to enter the main zipper and exit out, keeping things airy and rather well vented. Without those zipped vertical vents, it would be more difficult to keep core temps adjusted, but even with the main opening zipped just down a few inches, I could feel air circulating through and I could close or open the vents as needed to regulate my comfort level.

Rapha Winter Windproof JerseyIt is quite warm too, and I always wore it with a base layer, either short or long sleeve. Sometimes I would decide to wear the best undershirts that I could get my hands on to give me any extra bit of warmth and protection that I needed. Not forgetting that it was also comfortable. It had better be pretty cold, well into the low 50s or colder, before I went riding in it. Now if I were to change one thing, it would be to consider adding the same wind proof panels in the front of the arms only, leaving the back of the sleeves ‘open’, although it would make for some more moisture build-up there. I did find that it took very little under the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey to stay warm well into the 40s, as long as I was pretty active. But if I wore a base layer in a short sleeve, then my arms got more wind and cold than my chest ever did and it felt unbalanced. If I wore a LS base shirt, that was better, but it still was a bit challenging to get my upper body feeling the same all over. I also struggled with the thought that maybe I don’t want to feel the same all over and having the sleeves more open was a benefit, keeping me from overheating. I remain conflicted about that, but adding some more protection on the sleeves would take the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey to the next level, warmth wise.

For some reason I had slight difficulty getting into the rear side pockets, almost like they were too high to contort my arm around behind me and into the opening. But the pockets were deep and useful, including the zipped one.

The last ride I did in the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey was a morning single speed MTB ride where the ambient temps were in the high 40s, but the winds were gusting up to 20+ mph. And it was a very cold wind, too. I wore the excellent, superhero fitting base LS from Endura with the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey over it. I wore some warm thermal knickers from Endura, wool socks, and winter MTB shoes. I had a couple of pairs of gloves with me and a Merino wool Buff under my helmet. The challenge was, if you were out of the brunt of the wind and climbing, working hard, a jacket might have been a bit much, but when the wind was full on into our faces, then the Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey felt just slighty ‘less’ than I might have asked for. Our ride was fast paced with little hanging about, so we were building heat well, and I used the three zippers to keep things happy ventilation wise, closing things up for the downhills. Overall, it was the perfect garment choice for the day and walked that middle ground between ‘maybe too much in a jacket’ and ‘just a jersey is not enough’. And if it had really gotten nasty, I had that Endura Emergency Shell to crawl into. Let it snow.

I feel like it begs to be compared to something like a softshell jacket, with their higher tech approach in fabrics…typically lighter and water repellant…and with their ability to totally block out any wind from the front, usually in the sleeves as well. If I were to be road riding all day into harsh, cold winds, the temps were not going to be changing much, and, especially if there was a chance of light precipitation, then the softshell is likely what I would slip into. But for a ride like MTB or maybe even gravel, where speeds and temps might be be up and down a lot, The Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey is very well suited for dealing with our typical binge/purge cycle of long climbs and fast downhills. Toss a packable, waterproof shell in your Rapha Winter Windproof Jersey pocket and you would be ready for about anything we would ever see in So Cal.

And you would look really, really good while doing it.

Rapha Winter Windproof JerseyRapha Winter Windproof Jersey

Now is it worth $125.00 more than something like that Bonty Softshell jacket? That is a tough one, but it has a different vibe to it and an undeniable style. It feels substantial and luxurious, if that matters any. If the combo of the Merino wool blend and the style, quality, and unique performance appeals to you, than that cost just is what it is. You will get all those features bundled in something that is likely to last a good, long, time. It is not neon bright, and that is a bit of a knock against it for road riding, but it also will not go out of style when next year’s colors are not what is hanging in your closet. And if you were a Belgian cyclist, battering yourself over some cobbled stretch of muddy road on a dreary day…this is what you would be riding in…not neon…not synthetic fabrics. Pretty sure, anyway.

At first, I wondered if this was something I would use much, but I have found it to be a viable piece of So Cal winter gear and an effective part or any layering system for colder days.

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Note: The manufacturers of these products provided them at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.