Review: Review: Rapha Brevet Windblock Jersey
I’ll make no bones about being a fan of Rapha’s Brevet jersey, I first reviewed it here and liked it then, so I was pleased to see how the windblock jersey would turn out. I got a glimpse of it last year when Ultan Coyle wore an early prototype for the Transcontinental race, and the styling looked good, and the concept seems eminently sensible.
It’s a thinner jersey than the classic Brevet, a far-lighter material than the thicker sportwool that Rapha has previously used, and they’ve removed the large ballast pocket from the rear, turning it to a 3 pockets (+ 2 zipped) configuration.
That thinner material comes at a cost though, it doesn’t seem quite as happy as a load-bearing top, whilst it can carry a good volume, the weight affects the jersey quite a bit making it sag more than I’m completely comfortable with. Having said that, it’s certainly better than some lightweight jerseys which sag deeply with just a multi-tool in, you can stick some bananas and tools in this without any bother.
The merino content of the jersey does help it resist nasty niffs, and because it’s a thinner material than the other Brevet jersey it can be washed and dried overnight – this I tested several times and found that it does indeed dry quickly, both in the wind and on the body.
It’s certainly a curious fellow is the Windblock Brevet jersey, and even now, with over 3,000km ridden in it, I’m still not really sure how I feel about it.
The windblock to the front works really well, the idea being that on an early start or a chilly day you don’t need to worry about layering up as the windblock stops the heat being stripped away – yup, this works really well, and does mean you don’t need to wear a gilet and carry it afterwards.
However, once the day does warm up, you then have a jersey that is stopping the wind from cooling you down, so you end up having to ride either zip-up and too warm, or zip-down and flapping – and if it’s flapping it adds some extra drag (yes I know it’s not major, but over the course of several days it can add up). The arms don’t have any wind-proofing on them, so in those early mornings a good set of arm-warmers come in super handy.
During the recent Trans-Atlantic Way race I wore the jersey the entire time, and would say I had the zip up less than 5 hours in 7 days – I run quite hot anyway, so appreciate the cooling effect, but I just felt it was keeping me too warm. On my ride up to the Cairngorms when it was a bit chillier I had the zip down most of the time, one of the other riders on that trip had the same jersey and had it zipped up, so it’s very much a personal thing.
I found that during more temperament days I’d layer up with Rapha’s Brevet Insulated Gilet (review to come soon), with the gilet’s zip undone from the bottom, leaving just my shoulders covered, and the wind block jersey unzipped fully. This combo would leave just a small area of torso open to the elements and would see me through large periods of the day, it also gives enormous flexibility as and when the weather changed. I think to some extent the jersey is just a little too warm, having said that it was tested in 30+ degree weather during TCR and also in Africa on the multi-day racing there! Like I say up above, it’s a curious fellow is the wind block jersey!
One thing that you can’t argue with however is it’s visibility! I used the navy blue version, and this comes with pink and white stripes, whilst the black comes with silver and grey. And those stripes are super visible! The pink is of the eye-bleedingly bright variety, also featured on the sleeve cuffs, and really stands-out on dismal days and in low-visibility. At night they reflect car lights really well and leave the rider clearly highlighted in the dark. I’m a big fan of passive safety features for riders, in case lights fail etc, so was really won over by this!
Should you buy it? Honestly, I’m not sure. On one hand it does its job very well, it’s good for multi-day rides, it dries very quickly, and it’s super visible – and it DOES block the wind very effectively. On the other hand, it perhaps blocks the wind too well, and if you are a hot-runner then you may find yourself with the jersey undone all the time. I guess the acid test would come if i had to choose it for a transcontinental kit list and not take a gilet with me? In that instance I’d probably prefer to take a standard jersey with the insulated gilet instead, I’d still have the visibility and the wind-protection, but would be able to keep the jersey done up on milder days.
n.b. Having added all my pics to this piece, it’s noticeable that no matter what the weather, I’ve always got the jersey on but undone – including in the wind and rain of Ireland’s northern coast.