On Test: Rapha's Brevet Collection
Rapha Women’s Brevet Kit: Pack Light. Travel Fast.
"Durable yet lightweight, with ample storage and reflective features, Brevet garments are tested to withstand your hardiest adventures and your longest rides, whatever the conditions"
Having grown from 3 to 350 people since its inception in 2004, Rapha is undoubtedly a stalwart supporter of those who love to ride – their gritty, grainy photography reflects a steely determination and dedication to the art of cycling.
Whilst they support some of the world’s finest racers and competitive teams, the Brevet range on test speaks firstly of adventure - an urge to go as far as possible, self-supported and with no team cars or podium places. As part of its creation, they looked to ultra-distance events including the Transcontinental – a 2500-mile self-supported journey through Europe - where riders are stopping for perhaps only minutes at time.
For many adventures, the road extends beyond the tarmac, so the Brevet range has equal measures of gravel ingrained it its threads.
With my own stages race goals around the corner, the Brevet kit arrived in good time to accompany me on many miles of both road and trail – the principle of its design being distance.
Brevet Bib Shorts
Pack Light. Travel Far. Those are the words in my head when I’m opening the package sent from Rapha. I’m hopeful when what appears from the wrapper is a beautifully crafted pair of bibs that use a robust nylon/elastane fabric with a notably thicker leg hem for ultimate staying power. I’ve tried many bibs and they certainly had that instant-on appeal; a sculpted, flattering fit elegantly finished off with a tonal, reflective Rapha logo.
There’s no female specific details for comfort stops unlike some of the others I’ve put to test, but the upper body has a stretchy, comfortable fit with a striped mesh design that negates the need for a base layer on warm days. There’s a centre front zip to finish it off and keep everything close-to-skin, yet breathable on the move.
RRP £135 (now £95)
Rapha’s Windblock Jersey is a truly different piece against the traditional cycling top. For starters, the designers have combined the best of both natural and man-made fabrics. Using soft, fast drying merino body and sleeves with a layering of polyester to the front panel, you get all the cosy, skin-soft feel of the wool with the added impact of wind resistance.
Stripes add contrast as well as practicality too; they act as front and rear reflectors on the road – a very real and necessary addition to long days in the saddle throughout the night. With self-support a key aspect of the Brevet collection, there’s also a generous number of storage spots, including 3 rear pouches and a handy, stealth front zip pocket too – for cash and cards when you might only be stopping for minutes to grab and go.
As a combination, the Brevet range has been of one my top collections to try out this summer. I really got on with the fit of the shorts, they held well all day, with no signs of rub or discomfort and the quality of the chamois gave me no cause for complaint. As yet, Rapha haven’t ‘employed any feature set to speed up the comfort break proceedings, but that was the only consideration in my mind given those I’ve tried from Gore and Endura.
With wind and rain alongside shine on many of my mixed days of riding, I really came to love the fabric combination of the Windblock Jersey. Merino is one of my favourite options, and it serves a practical task of limiting any sweaty, post-ride stink! A must if you’re taking only one set for multiple days of use. For fit, the fabric hangs a little loosely, but this is purposeful if you’re not looking for aero-dynamics, but for a versatile piece that’s won't cling to your every move. I would however prefer a slightly longer sleeve, as I did feel it was an awkward length.
Is It For You?
- If your priority really is all day comfort then yes, the Rapha Brevet range proves itself to be high quality, attention to detail collection for long days. If you divide the price by the mileage too, then you’re looking at a worthwhile purchase!
- If you also like the comfort and benefits of merino wool – quick to dry, odourless and comfortable - then the Windblock is a fantastic option to help stave off the chill.
About Catriona Sutherland
Catriona is an avid mountain biker from the UK, favouring endurance events. She has competed in various 24 hour, marathon and stage mountain bike races around the world including the Joberg2c, Epic Israel and the Strathpuffer. Currently working as freelance marketing consultant, mountain bike guide and serial adventurer, Catriona is happiest riding her bike, drinking coffee and planning her next trip!
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