Rapha have prioritised lightweight breathability over waterproofing in their cold weather training softshell, using a windproof Polartec fabric with a water-repellent treatment and taped seams on the chest panels, shoulders and tops of the arms, but a thinner, faster-wicking Super-Roubaix for the back, side and underarm panels.
And it works. It was as rainproof as nearly all the softshells we've tested this year in the lab and on the road. Other details include a rear pocket pump loop, gel tape on the hem, reflectives, and a zip garage on the high collar for comfort.
How we tested the latest jackets
As well as cycling for hours in the coldest, wettest conditions we could find (and sitting on a turbo under a hose), we took all the jackets to the waterproof clothing experts at Foxwear to test the seams and material – specifically the chest area and shoulder seams, which bear the brunt of downpours.
Foxwear’s testing machine isolates a 10cm section of the jacket and subjects it to increasing water pressure. We continued until either the jacket leaked or the pressure reached 0.6 bar which, according to Foxwear, is ‘not far short of a tropical storm’. Foxwear should know: they've been making hi-vis, high performance rain jackets for professionals such as the police for years, and will soon be bringing out a bike jacket.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus