Rapha Embrocation review

The leading luxury brand in cycling seems to be in a period of diversification which includes a push into product sectors such as holidays and womenswear.

The Rapha Embrocation falls into what could loosely be termed as “toiletries”, as part of a range that includes chamois cream and soap.

Certainly it’s packaged in such a way as to make me think of the sort of expensive unguents that live in my fiancee’s part of the bathroom cabinet. I get excited by nicely packaged goodies being sent to me for review and this is no exception.

Rapha Embrocation boxed

It took me a while to decide to break the pink paper seal and give the product a whirl. Having already broken out the chamois cream, I was ready for the lovely metal tin. It is lovely, a tactile experience that beats the usual waxy plastic that seems to be the norm for cycling products. You will not want to throw it away when you run out of the contents. Without doubt, I’d re-use this if refills were available or with another product inside.

Rapha Embrocation tin

It’s described in the blurb as “A highly effective cycling embrocation for cold conditions. Rapha Embrocation has a fragrance inspired by the plants and herbs of Mont Ventoux and is made from three warming agents, winter green, capsicum and vanilla. The embrocation provides up to six hours protection.”

“Great for those days when it starts wet and stays wet”



The first couple of times I used it I had a heavy cold, so only the winter green really cut through. It doesn’t leap out of the tin at you in the way some heating creams can but once you start rubbing it in, you get that waft of that distinctive aroma. I’ve got a rubbish sense of smell so, unfortunately, the more subtle notes totally pass me by.

The burnished orange colour means you are unlikely to mix it up with your white chamois cream, even if they are packaged in a near identical fashion. It’s a Ready Brek glow without being nuclear.

I’ve usually stuck to tried and test warming products like Deep Heat which tend to be pretty aggressive on application. By contrast, this went on easy without too much of the immediate sting that I’m used to. Certainly there was blood flow being stimulated judging by the sensations.

On the tin it clearly states “winter embrocation” and I’d certainly agree it’s pretty season specific.

It’s probably best used on those freezing wet days when you are trying to keep your legs protected and the blood flowing. It’s great for those days when it starts wet and stays wet.

Perfect for muddy cross races where the rain is coming down from the moment you leave the house and you still need a little something to kept the legs alive for the drive home.

In milder or drier conditions I found it a little too much, although this could be my over-application.

I’ve also found that it’s perhaps more useful if you’ve got a full day’s riding planned and not just for an hour’s blast round a cyclocross race then home.

You really need to apply a good while before the race to get that nice warm buzz rather than a furnace blast of heat. It probably says this on the instructions somewhere, but yeah I’m a complete hypocrite when it comes down to RTFM.

So if you want the nice strapline quote to base your buying decision on:

” It’s great for those days when it starts wet and stays wet”

Rapha Embrocation is available from rapha.cc, priced at 20GBP for 125ml

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