Rapha Brevet Long Sleeve Windblock jersey - review
Luxurious, versatile jersey from Rapha, which should see plenty of use from autumn to spring
by George Scott
The Rapha Brevet Long Sleeve Windblock is a cracking jersey which will get plenty of use from autumn through to spring. It's a luxurious piece, thanks to the merino construction, and has the high attention to detail you would expect from Rapha.
Rapha have slowly expanded the Brevet range since 2011 and that's continued into 2017, with the comfort-focused, long-distance riding collection a key focus for the London-based firm.
The long sleeve Brevet Windblock jersey is new to the line-up and is described as the 'multi-tool of cycling jerseys', thanks to the windproof panel overlaid on the front of a jersey otherwise made from merino wool.
That might be overdoing it, but the Brevet is certainly a versatile piece - capable of being worn in comfort in anything from single figure temperatures up into the mid-teens.
The Brevet range also includes a conventional long sleeve jersey, but whereas that is made from a thicker, Sportwool fabric (61 per cent polyester, 39 per cent merino), the Brevet Windblock is made entirely from a lightweight merino - apart from across the chest and down the front of the arms. There Rapha have added windproof panel made from nylon.
- Price: £145
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Size tested: S
- Website: Rapha
The idea is simple - to provide protection on the part of your body buffeting the wind. Why not just pair a long sleeve jersey with a gilet? That's certainly a good combination, and one we call upon regularly, but the benefit of also having the Windblock jersey in your wardrobe is two-fold.
First, on chilly, blustery days, the windproof front and Merino fabric combine to offer wind protection and warmth in key areas, while allowing the rest of the jersey to breathe and regulate your body temperature. And it also leaves a jersey pocket free for a rain jacket (or anything else you want to fill your pockets with on a long ride). It's essentially a layering system in one garment and sits well with the 'pack light, travel far' ethos of the Brevet range.
In use, the Brevet Windblock is excellent. The chest panel, made from the same fabric as the Brevet gilet, isn't as windproof as a fully-fledged softshell or windstopper fabric, but it keeps out the majority of the breeze.
The merino wool, on the other hand, feels soft and luxurious to touch. Rapha say it's a new blend, said to dry quicker than typical merino, and that's certainly the case - the jersey is extremely breathable.
During hard efforts, heat is allowed to escape, and when cruising at a more sedate pace or descending, the windproof chest and arms help keep the chill out.
We've used the Brevet Windblock on a number of rides with the temperature fluctuating between around five degrees and 15 degrees, and it's comfortably been at home at either end of that range when paired with the right base layer.
The exact temperature range will depend on how warm you run and how hard you ride, but the key is the Brevet Windblock is a flexible piece for a range of conditions, if not cold winter days.
On one ride on the edge of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, with the temperature between seven and ten degrees and the threat of rain overhead, the jersey proved the perfect companion on a rolling loop, with a long sleeve base layer beneath and a rain jacket safely stored (and thankfully not called into action) in the central rear pocket. We didn't feel the need to use the full-length zip during testing, but it's there if you do begin to overheat.
Storage is key to the Brevet range, which was originally inspired by the self-support 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris ride.
As a result, the Brevet Windblock has five pockets, with three open pockets at the rear, and two zipped pockets on the front, as you might find on a conventional winter jacket (we're talking a fashion jacket, rather than a cycling jacket).
The rear pockets are well-sized and capable of taking plenty of cargo, but the front pockets are a touch small at the zips, making it difficult to slip a full hand inside. Still, they're conveniently located for things you might want to access easily, like keys, cake money, a credit card for mid-ride coffees, or an energy bar.
Clothing manufacturers have been adding more pockets to jerseys over the past couple of years and we always appreciate the option of more storage space.
Rapha's Brevet clothing is generally sized a little more generously than the race-inspired ProTeam range - but the cut is spot on.
We downsized from a medium to a small for a close fit, with the length of the sleeves perfect for a good overlap with gloves, and the rear of the jersey, lined with a silicone gripper, sitting securely across the lower back.
The windproof panel obviously doesn't have as much stretch as merino, but while it may feel just a little restrictive when you first pull the jersey on, it's not a problem on the bike.
Finally, the Brevet Windblock comes in three colours - maroon, navy and black - and each with two contrasting stripes, one of which is reflective on both the front and rear.
The Rapha Brevet Windblock is a versatile long sleeve jersey which will become a staple of any rider's jersey from autumn through to spring.
It's no replacement for a winter jacket, but the combination of a lightweight merino fabric and windproof front offers enough warmth, wind protection and breathability for a variety of conditions.
- Versatile jersey ideal for spring, autumn and milder winter rides
- Five pockets provide plenty of storage
- Lightweight merino combines warmth and breathability
- Zipped pocket openings are a little small