Review: Review: Rapha Race Cape (complete with arms cut off!)
The Rapha Race Cape (sans sleeves) offers rain protection & venting for tempo riding & racing without overheating!
Things I like:
- being dry, but also having the feeling of the elements against my bare arms
Things I don’t like:
- being wet
- clammy, sweaty, arms rubbing the insides of rain jackets
It’s not a big list, but clearly it bears note that there are some similarities going on right there!
One of the issues with cycling jackets in general, and rain jackets in particular, is the issue of venting, it’s so easy to overheat and increase sweating, thereby overloading the breathability of the jacket, invariably getting clammy on the inside.
Rapha, at the behest of Team Sky riders, developed the Race Cape. No pockets (none, not one!), a zip and really nothing else to it, except one very cool feature; the upper sleeves feature a 1cm line of tape that is hemmed at either side, allowing you to cut the sleeve off aiding cooling in race or tempo training conditions.
Yes, I did say cut, it’s a binary measure, there are no zips or velcro involved here, just a drastic use of scissors (or craft knife) to cut off the sleeve.
Lets be clear about this, it’s a £230 jacket, and they want you to cut the sleeves off!
If you’ve read my review of Rapha’s oversocks you will know how nerve-wracking it is to simply put an incision into the socks, imagine how much my hands were shaking as I contemplated cutting this bad boy!
But of course I had to do it, how could I possibly review an item and not test it thoroughly?
As a father of three kids, I recall how nerve-wracking it was to hold a new-born baby. My hands were every bit as nervous as I got my faithful craft-knife out to cut this beauty (sorry, but it’s true).
Using a steady hand I trimmed the middle of the tape, only going slightly wrong once, to create a short-sleeved race cape. And some
bright yellow Chartreuse, calf warmers keeper-dryers!
So how is the jacket now?
Well it was a grand rain jacket before, supremely light, packable, and more than capable as a rain jacket, now its a little lighter as we’ve shed both the arms and the zips around the cuffs, not as waterproof (obviously as the arms are now bare), but much cooler and more suited to high tempo riding.
Having spent about a month with the arms off I must say I’m smitten!
If it’s chilly I wear arm-warmers, which is a much nicer feeling than bare arms on jacket inners, and if it’s hot I no longer overheat (it’s really that simple!). There’s less of a need to have the front zip of the jacket open to cool you down, increasing drag as well it must be said, and this also stops the rain coming in from the front!
Altogether it’s much nice to ride like this, wind, rain, and sun on bare skin. Admittedly it’s a high price to pay, but if you can stomach the idea of cutting into a £230 jacket, and it may well make you feel nauseous, then it’s a price worth paying!
Note to Rapha, I get why there are no pockets, but surely even the Pro’s want just a single pocket in which to stuff a banana?