The Chapeau Repel Jersey is an excellent bit of kit. It’s become my go-to jersey over the past six weeks for training rides in what has been wet and wild – but mild – winter.
The fabric is at the heart of the jersey’s success. While it’s not as warm as a heavy duty winter jersey/jacket, it is wind and water resistant- but, more importantly, exceptionally breathable. The slimline fit is also very good and it looks great, too.
Chapeau have teamed up with Schoeller to use the Swiss material manufacturer’s ‘C_change’ fabric for the Repel jersey. It’s a cutting-edge fabric inspired by nature. A pine cone opens and closes according to different weather conditions and C_change is said to replicate that. Pores in the fabric’s membrane open when heat is generated, allowing moisture to escape, while the membrane structure condenses when the body’s cooler.
Does it work? The Repel is one of the best bits of kit I have tested to date at dealing with heat build-up and, subsequently, the expulsion of moisture through the fabric. No matter how hard I’ve ridden, in varying conditions, the jersey has remained dry on the inside.
That said, the Repel jersey isn’t fleece-lined so it’s not as immediately toasty as a windproof jersey which is soft on the inside. The nature of the fabric means it relies, to an extent, on the warmth generated by your body but there’s just about enough room under the jersey for a couple of layers (but nothing too bulky, mind) according to the conditions.
The fact the jersey is windproof keeps the chill off your chest and I have found the Repel ideal as an outer layer with a single long sleeve base layer underneath on rides in the upper single figures and low teens, and on top of both a base layer and merino mid-layer when it’s a bit parkier. Chapeau are also likely to point you elsewhere in their range, namely the Thermal jersey we’ve previously reviewed and the Mistral jacket currently on test, for truly freezing conditions.
The Repel gets its name from the fact that it’s wind and water resistant. As a result, it falls somewhere between a jersey and a jacket. It’s not waterproof – and that’s important to emphasise – but road spray or a light rain shower will bead up off the surface of the jersey. If riding in prolonged rain then damp patches will begin to form on the fabric and it’s time to pull on a jacket. We’ve had no shortage of rain this winter and I’ve found the Repel to also be an ideal mid-layer – on top of a base layer and beneath a light rain jacket – on really wet rides. That combination has kept me warm and dry in some fairly horrendous conditions, without overheating.
The fit is very much like a jersey, however. Chapeau call it a “performance cut for a slim fit” and that’s a fair description. The cut is excellent and the the jersey is close throughout, with no excess material left to flap in the wind. However, the C_change fabric has significantly less stretch in it than a lycra material so it’s important that Chapeau have got the cut right – and it’s equally important to find the right size for you as there’s less give in the fabric.
Otherwise, features include a high collar, a generously dropped tail and micro-fibre cuffs. The close fit on the arms, combined with the reduced stretch of the fabric, means that bulky winter gloves are unlikely to fit under the jersey cuffs. I’d like to see a bit more stretch here. There are also three rear pockets and, again, the limited stretch in the Repel’s fabric means they’re not as big, nor as easy to access, than pockets on a regular jersey. That’s not a huge gripe as they’re big enough to hold the essentials. There’s also a water resistant zipped pocket for valuables but I’ve found this prone to condensation build-up.
The Repel comes with a significant price tag of £199.99, though Chapeau are giving away a free pair of Pave bib shorts worth £119.99 – reviewed here – with every jersey.
While the Repel is unlikely to replace a fully waterproof jacket in your collection, and nor is it the type of garment that you can rely on solely with a base layer in baltic conditions, it is piece which is really well suited to the relatively mild and wet British winter. It’s not perfect – the stiffer fabric might not suit everyone – but it can be worn as an outer layer when it’s a murky out and there’s a shower lingering, a mid-layer when the conditions dictate, and it will serve you well throughout. The Repel’s wind and water resistance, and its low weight and breathability, ensures it will also continue to get plenty of use as winter turns into spring.
Colours: red, black