I’m a sucker for Rapha gear. There, I admit it, I’m a soft sell. So I put in to get some of their cross gear to review.
Image by LondonCycleSport on Flickr
I’ve been riding it pretty hard for the last couple of rounds of cyclocross and out training. Simply put I love it. OK I’ve not had the chance yet to put it through mud and rain properly but I’m fairly certain that the current clement meteorological conditions have nothing to do with the kit.
Of the two parts, this was the one I was less sure about. After all, you’re meant to wear a skinsuit for cross, aren’t you? And it looked a bit lightweight for winter use.
Then I went out training up on Wimbledon Common for a couple of hours and remembered that actually cyclocross gear needs to tread a fine line between keeping you both cool and warm enough to compete.
The material is a lightweight sportwool that I’ve not had the pleasure of before. It almost looks like a race jersey with that dimply wicking fabric that almost every other jersey on the market seems to be made of.
The accent is definitely on racing compared to say the club/country jerseys or the classic sportwool. Either that or I’ve developed fat arms and more of a buddha shape.
Can I complain about the colour? My fashionable girlfriend tells me that the matt forest green (Humbrol paint colours are much more fun for reference than boring old Pantone blocks) works for me, but part of me hankers for it to be the classic Rapha monochrome.
As ever, zip pocket=very good idea. The single pocket on the back holds as much as you’ll ever need it to during a cross race and can comfortably take a rain jacket and a couple of madeleines for emergencies.
Now here’s where I’m going to put to you it’s best unwritten use: commuting. Yes, you did read that correctly: commuting.
Lots of us commute relatively short distances in a hurry. We get hot and bothered doing sprint intervals between lights and putting on a thick jersey results in considerably overheating.
Combined with a baselayer, this jersey makes a good compromise for all but the coldest couple of months of the year. the zip pocket offers plenty of space for work pass, house keys and mobile and you can tuck gloves and hat in the other one if needs be.
Image by LondonCycleSport on Flickr
Cross 3/4 Bib Shorts
Ah the trepidation of new shorts from a brand you’ve never worn before! Will the chamois pad be right for you or will it be about as comfy as a soiled nappy?
In this case, the pad fits like a dream. Great, now I’m locked into a world of expensive shorts *sigh*
It felt bulky in the hand and off the bike but the moment I sat on the saddle it felt absolutely right, and that’s the only thing that matters.
Compared to my club shorts and my previous mid-price adventures in lycra, this represents a whole new level of on-bike comfort.
The fabric is a lovely thick lycra that really holds well without being overly clingy. My fat calves are always a challenge for knee warmers and while they felt tight, they didn’t bite in. OK, post-race I end up with a distinct pinch line where the gripper is but I’ve not noticed any discomfort from them as yet.
It’s probably been too warm and dry to really figure out how it copes with the heavy-duty wet and mud.
I can confirm at this stage that it’s coped perfectly well with me bouncing off loose dirt and grass repeatedly without snagging or tearing. Equally it’s washing well which is always an important factor when it comes to kit that is going to need a frequent amount of washing.
- Cross Jersey by Rapha – £130
- Cross 3/4 Bib Shorts by Rapha – £155
- Cross Bundle (jersey, 3/4 shorts and merino hat) – £265
Now I’m no good with money, but I reckon that the bundle is a pretty good deal when you consider the hat retails at 35 quid.