Rapha Classic Gilet II - review - Road Cycling UK

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Gilets

Rapha Classic Gilet II – review

Rapha's updated Classic gilet may have a three-figure price tag, but the performance and attention to detail justify the cost

At first glance the Classic Gilet II – an update on a Rapha original – seems to be almost not there. With it’s featherweight feel, it seems like it will just float away. However, the beauty of this gilet is the way it can pack down to a really tiny size, yet still offer a decent level of protection, while you’ll also find a host of small details that lift it above most other gilets.

The gilet is intended for milder weather conditions, described by Rapha as ‘perfect for cool starts and cooler descents’. Out on the road, its low weight makes it feel very unobtrusive, but it still delivers the protection you want. It will keep the wind off your chest and hold off light drizzle and showers, but it’s by no means waterproof. That something worth bearing in mind if you’re looking for something to use beyond summer and the shoulder seasons (late spring/early autumn).

The Classic Gilet II is an update on a Rapha favourite

The nylon fabric has a degree of stretch, so it holds its shape on the body but isn’t restrictive. I appreciated the higher neck on early morning rides when there was a chill in the air, while if you choose to have the zip mostly undone, a small tab pops either side of the gilet together to reduce the sail effect. On that note, the offset zip, common on many Rapha products, helps reduce any billowing if only half undone. The zip itself is robust and easy to use, with a chin guard at the top stopping it rubbing against your chin or catching on a beard.

As the central panel of the dropped tail is made from mesh, it doesn’t offer as much protection as it could

The details continue with the addition of three pockets – unusual for a gilet – with two on the back and one zipped pocket on the chest. Most gilets don’t have any pockets, and while you may still keep the majority of your ride essentials in your jersey pockets, it’s useful to have them for items you want to access quickly and regularly, like food or a map. The chest pocket is perfect for a card and/or cash, but not heavier items as the space isn’t huge and the material not supportive enough to prevent it from sagging down.

  • Specification

  • Price: £100.00
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: Rapha

You’ll also find mesh side panels, helping to drop the weight and improve ventilation, and a lightly elasticated hem at the base at the gilet. It’s fine but a tighter elastic would make it more effective at holding the gilet in. Although the dropped tail is welcome, the fact the central panel is made from a mesh means it actually offers little protection from spray.

The elasticated armpits help keep the gilet against the body – often a place where gilets can be loose and inflate when riding along, both cooling and slowing the rider.

The little touches of reflectivity on the shoulder darts and the Rapha logo are always welcome, but so small as to be no more than a head nod than actually offering much help. The light blue gilet tested also offers a bit of extra visibility on dark, leafy lanes.

The high neck helps to keep out wind and rain

Conclusion

At first, I had a degree of scepticism about whether a gilet really needs so much detail – but the details here improve the versatility, help the fit, and generally add to the all-round performance. That’s always welcome. At £100, the Classic II is by no means cheap for a lightweight gilet, but the attention to detail, functionality and Rapha’s free repair service help to justify the asking price.

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Superb attention to detail
  • Pockets, rare on a gilet

Cons

  • Dropped tail doesn’t offer much protection
  • Elasticated hem could be tighter

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