Rapha Winter Jersey
The Winter Jersey has been developed to keep you cycling through the worst winter conditions. Made from a heavy duty merino-blend, the jersey features windproof panels, a reworked pocket layout and reflective materials for greater visibility.
Fabric - Sportwool (25% merino wool, 61% polyester, 14% elastane)
Excellent moisture transfer
Windproof front and shoulder panels
Zipped, mesh-lined vents
Improved pocket configuration
Measured size medium
Weight - 538 g (19 oz)
Center Back - 69.1 cm (27.2 in)
Pit to pit - 51.7 cm (20.4 in)
Sleeve length - 86.8 cm (34.2 in)
Retail - $230
Pink Storm Flap
Rapha strives to create the finest clothing and accessories in the world. They design without compromise for the most discerning rider. Their products blend style with performance. They have a passion for road cycling that goes beyond just selling products. They sponsor events and teams around the world. Rapha also creates publications that try to bring the sport to life. Rapha was started back in 2004, which make it relatively new to the cycling scene. They have come a long way in less than a decade.
I personally had heard of Rapha and their high prices but did not have any experience with their products. I know that with some of the outdoor brands I love (see Arc'Teryx), the higher prices are often justified by the higher-quality product. I was interested to find this out first hand and set up a review of the Winter Jersey and 3/4 Bib Shorts.
I tested the Rapha Winter Jersey with the 3/4 Bib Shorts almost exclusively. I also had a Rapha Merino Base Layer that I used on occasion when it was especially cold. I used this on road rides and commutes from 15 - 40 miles during the winter and spring. Temperatures ranged from 20 - 55 degrees.
Back Zippered Pockets
The Rapha Winter Jersey is made for cold weather riding. It nearly is a jacket by weight and feel. The jersey is made of a Merino wool, polyester, and elastane mix called Sportwool. The really is a lot going on with this jersey. On the inside of the jersey there are windproof panels over the torso and shoulders to keep you warm in colder conditions. The rest of the interior is either mesh or brushed merino wool. This creates little air pockets to keep the rider warm. On both sides of the chest, there are zippers that open up mesh vents. These vents are nearly invisible when not opened. The front of the jersey has a full-length zipper with a draft flap behind it. This flap is pink colored to add some style and accent the jersey.
The bottom hem has a pink bungee cord adjustment system. There are adjustment points on both sides to alter the fit in the back 2/3 of the jersey. The cords do not continue across the front of the jersey. The bottom hem has a drop tail for more coverage in the back. There is a total of four pockets in the back: one large ballast pocket, two drop in pockets, and a small zippered valuable pocket. At the bottom of the pockets, there is a reflective stripe for visibility. There is also a large reflective stripe on the left arm. The collar on the jersey is shaped for better coverage on the bike. One thing I did notice with this jersey is unlike the bib shorts I tested; the seams on this were not flatlocked. It did not change the comfort of the jersey but just was an observation.
The one drawback with the Winter Jersey is its sustainability. Wool is a sustainable fabric, but none of the other elements are sustainable or green to my knowledge. I scoured the Rapha website to find more information and was not able to find anything.
Vents to Regulate Heat
The Rapha Winter Jersey fits snug like a jersey should. I am usually a size medium, and that is what I tested in this jersey. It fits me nice and snug all the way through like a tailored sweater. It is definitely shorter in the front than the back which can seem a bit strange when walking around, but when on the bike, it all comes together. I did not have to adjust the bottom hem at all. The sleeves are nice and long. When reaching for the bars they do not inch up, which is important if you are out on a cold day. Less air directly to the skin is appreciated.
The brushed merino wool interior is comfortable to the skin. As is the polyester material that is used to block the wind. This polyester barrier does not stretch, but the rest of the jersey does. It moves well with me on the bike. The materials are on the thicker side for warmth and weather resistance. I have layered this jersey over a Rapha Merion Long Sleeve Base Layer on colder days but would not wear anything thicker than that underneath. In the back under the pockets is a mesh material to improve moisture transport. This material is not as soft as the other materials, but if you wear bibs, you will not feel it against the skin.
The Winter Jersey is warm! The merino wool paired with the windproof panels kept me warm down to below freezing. If I added a baselayer underneath it could comfortably take the jersey down to 20 degrees. The jersey is so warm that depending on the person; I would not recommend it over 45 degrees. I tend to be on the warm side when I ride so if you are not like me, you may be able to stretch that upward a bit. The vents do help add some airflow, I even had them open on some 35 degree days.
The arms and back are breathable but not as so much to make you cold. They too have a bit of wind resistance to them. The Winter Jersey is not made for the rain but would do just fine in misty or light rain conditions. The wool will maintain warmth no matter the condition, and the jersey should keep you dry unless it gets too ugly out. Here in Central Oregon there were a couple of occasions where I got caught in some hail and snow, and the jersey had no problems with that. In those cases, I appreciated the high collar and snug fit as it kept the amount of snow coming down my neck to a minimum.
Hem cords to Adjust fit
The reflective stripe on the left arm is not only great for being seen, but it looks awesome too. The added strip in the back also helps you be seen. I really liked the front vents as I thought they were a great touch. My only issue with them is the zipper pull is really small and hard to find with gloves on. In most cases, you will be wearing full gloves with this jersey, and it takes some practice and even both hands to find the zippers easily. The main zipper and the ballast pocket zipper are much easier to use. The ballast pocket zipper has a large O-ring to make it easier to use. This pocket is also mesh lined so you can open it up to help breath when there is nothing in it. With this pocket and the two drop in pockets, there is plenty of room to carry whatever you need to. The valuables' pocket is a nice touch and keeps stuff concealed. I wish it was a moisture resistant pocket as my cell phone got really sweaty on one ride when I overheated a bit.
Stripe on Arm Looks Good
Overall, the Rapha Winter jersey is just that, a cold-weather jersey which borders on being a jacket. What differentiates it from a jacket is the fit. It is snug and does not have lots of extra room to layer over anything else. For me, a thin baselayer was the most I could or for that matter wanted to layer under this jersey. There are lots of great features built into this jacket to make it be very functional when out riding. Most importantly, depending on the rider, the jersey still looks sharp. All these features either enhance or don't affect the overall appearance of the jersey. Paired with the 3/4 Bib Shorts like I did I was comfortable down to just above freezing, but if you have warmer tights or pants on you can easily get down well below freezing. The Winter Jersey looks so good that I even wore it at work on a couple of days where I commuted. The Winter jersey retails for $230, which is on the expensive side. What you get is a well-made and carefully thought-out jersey that performs well and looks good. I can now see why Rapha is a blend of performance and style. Got to love the pink accents. As always, your mileage may vary.
Great chest vents
Lots of functional pockets
Tailored like fit
Left arm reflective stripe works and looks awesome
Pink accents add a touch of style
Small zipper pulls on the vents