Rapha women’s softshell jacket review

Rapha ladies softshell jacket review

Post by Katy Beveridge

I don’t often get excited about bike clothes. That’s to say they’re often bought with a
sense of begrudging necessity. Bike clothes, especially for women, still find it hard to
know where they stand with us. I almost gagged the other day in a rather trendy bike shop on Upper Street at the sight of a pair of very sturdy looking fingerless mesh racing gloves with pink bows garishly stuck on top. The logic tending to be you take the mens version, stick a bow on it and ta da… it’s now for girls.

Showing pocket detail on back of Rapha classic jacketSo I was thrilled, if not somewhat relieved, to receive the new Rapha Women’s Softshell jacket. It is actually designed for women, not the men’s version haphazardly modified to suit. In Rapha’s trademark style it is beautifully understated. All black, with well hidden pink inside finishes, it cuts a very flattering shape. It doesn’t shout “bike jacket” too loudly and yet has every feature that most would boast about.

And for a London cyclist it’s not the kind of thing that restricts your wardrobe. That is to say that if your bike takes you to the office, to shops and then the pub, your tightest lycra getup can often feel just a bit out of place, well not this time.

The Rapha Women’s Classic Softshell Jacket features three generous back cargo pockets with an extra two smaller zipped pockets for good measure to keep your essentials safe, perfectly sized for a phone, cards, keys and some cash. It also has a very handy, thinner pocket featuring an internal stitched pump sleeve, though beware; any small object accidentally put in this skinny pocket is almost impossible to ever retrieve.

Other essential features include underarm zips, which can be engaged when in need of a bit of added ventilation, and the tucked away storm tail featuring a large reflective Rapha logo. This can be easily deployed to keep your bum dry if the weather turns, or if you’d just like the cyclists left in your wake to know that you’re riding in a very expensive Rapha jacket.

Testament to the subtlety of the design I seemed to keep finding added features with each wear, the bite grip on the collar for easy adjustment on the move (who’d have thought?) and a neatly stitched button hole in the right back pocket to accommodate headphone wires.

Grip or no grip - rapha jacket

There are also thumb grips, though I rarely use them due to the generous length of the sleeves. The length was something I initially found fault with, though they proved an absolute blessing on a freezing cold, gloveless night ride home!

Patch close up view on Rapha jacket

By far my favourite feature of the Rapha Women’s Classic Softshell Jacket is the rubber patch on the left shoulder, which has the texture of suede or soft leather, to keep a shoulder bag from sliding about, which works an absolute treat.

One thing I did note, mainly out of habit, was the zip. With anything that claims it’s built to last I often find it’s the zip that turns out to be the weakest link. In saying that after a month of almost constant wear it’s held strong so cannot find technical fault yet but I would have preferred something a bit more sturdy looking, just for peace of mind.

Softshell jackets are often a bit pricier than their hardshell or fleecy alternatives and Rapha’s Softshell is no exception. However you do get what you pay for, and if you’re thinking of going some distance in it, this jacket is pretty much perfect for any riding weather.

Though it is said to be designed for tough winter cycling, and does hold up very well in
harsh conditions, this certainly isn’t a single season jacket, it’s lightweight material and
breathability make it a worthwhile investment for the spring and summer too.

Katy Beveridge is currently at Central Saint Martins, a young designer and an avid cyclist she is also the creator of The Bicycle Animation.

Rapha Women's Softshell Jacket 4.5 out of 5 stars in the review

The beautifully and thoughtfully designed Rapha Jacket makes it a real winner all year round.
Rapha Women’s Classic Softshell Jacket
Date published: 03/29/2012
4.5 / 5 stars

The Rapha jacket is available from Rapha.cc for £240.

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11 Responses to Rapha women’s softshell jacket review

  1. Kerena 29/03/2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Sounds like a great jacket – & I love the idea of the shoulder patch. Unless you’re me and you wear your bag on your right shoulder. Hmm…

    • debencyclist 30/03/2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Yep me too, because I’m left handed and no-one cares! ;-(

      • Foghorn 18/11/2012 at 6:49 pm #

        That makes three left-handed left without a shoulder pad…

  2. Ellesar 29/03/2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Hard to justify £240 for a jacket – I guess you can give it a rave review as you got it for free. One month wear is hardly going to prove its durability.
    I can’t think of a cycle shop on Upper St – do you mean Essex Rd?

  3. Lovely Bicycle! 30/03/2012 at 8:51 am #

    Okay, this is probably my favourite Rapha product and as it’s too late into Spring to review it on Lovely Bicycle I’ll add my 2cents here.

    Nearly every woman in my cycling club owns this jacket, and after my older one tore I finally caved in during one of Rapha’s winter sales (yes, they occasionally have major sales).

    I love this jacket on a roadbike, though never considered wearing it on an upright bike for more leisurely/transportational cycling. For me it is probably too casual for the latter. But on a roadbike, it is pretty much perfect. The logo on this one is not obtrusive at all, much subtler than the pictures suggest. No armband thank God, and the (small) logo is the same colour as the jacket. The jacket is warm. It is breathable. It is waterproof and snowproof. I have worn it in temps below 20F/-10C and it’s kept me cozy. You have no excuse not to train in winter really if you own this jacket.

    The fit is flattering, no complaints. And yet it is somehow roomy enough to fit both a base layer and mid layer underneath. Easy to move in. Not noisy. Classic 3 pockets in the back, like a cycling jersey, plus hidden zippered pockets. There are other bells and whistles, as mentioned in this review, but for me the waterproofness, warmth, visibility, pockets and good fit are what nails it.

    Some might object that the women’s version is only available in black, whereas the men’s also comes in a high-vis red, so that is the one negative I can think of.

    The pricing, if you keep track of Rapha’s sales, can be decent.

    Lord knows I have a healthy skepticism toward Rapha’s products and marketing, but this jacket is a good one, particularly if you go road cycling in winter.

    • Lovely Bicycle! 30/03/2012 at 8:53 am #

      oops – in 4th par “visibility” should be “breathability” !

      • Andreas 30/03/2012 at 9:39 am #

        Thank you so much for adding your thoughts 🙂 pleased to hear you give the jacket the thumbs up too!

  4. Seb 30/03/2012 at 10:23 am #

    That cost more than my bike!

    It’d be hard to justify something that cost that much for me…

  5. Nyderscosh 30/03/2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I’ve been wearing the men’s version of this jacket since late October. It went out with me four times a week, evenings and weekends from then through to late Feb when I switched to a normal jersey. It’s was normally worn over a long sleaved base layer (craft zero or winter versions) which is enough to keep out all but the worst weather. In January I had to go to a second short sleaved base layer to keep out the weather when London dropped below -7.

    It’s an amazing fit, super durable piece of kit. You don’t have to treat it well, it washes up nicely and so far has shed everything my riding could throw at it. It keeps the wind chill down to nothing, ockets are great, styling is sharp and everyting is where it should be. My only complaint is that it is *such* an obvious choice to ride in that nothing else got a look in for five months. Roll on spring!

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