Rapha's new Classic Softshell jacket almost strikes us as too nice to abuse with its superbly tailored stretch polyamide shell (with three-piece sleeves) and distinct black-on-black styling. But given the plethora of technical features, we expect it to perform just as well on the bike as off in the coming weeks.
Weather protection is provided by a windproof, water-resistant and breathable Hytrel membrane, a full-length offset zipper with a built-in bite panel, and integrated thumb cuffs that seal off drafts and keep the sleeves in place. The zipper and tall collar are both lined with fleece and pit zips add extra airflow when needed.
Handy features include a rubberised shoulder pad to keep messenger bag straps in place and a fold-down rear panel to protect your rear end in the event of rain. Five rear pockets are fitted out back including a dedicated pump sleeve and a waterproof, zippered media pocket further augmented by a full internal wire management system.
We'll be sure to give this a thorough run-down as we head into winter both on the bike ... and at the bar!
Rapha cyclo-cross kit
Cyclo-cross season often brings cold temperatures, wet weather and sore shoulders so Rapha has equipped its new Cross jersey with Sportwool construction and a season-appropriate brown, orange and black colour palette that includes the company's usual tailored fit and signature single coloured armband.
A small foam pad is stitched right into the right shoulder to ease the pain of run-ups and a single zippered rear pocket is angled for easier access to your pre-race supplement of choice.
The matching Cross 3/4 bib shorts use the same Thermoroubaix fabric, Cytech stretch chamois and distinctive styling and cut of the standard Rapha 3/4 bib shorts we reviewed last season. A few details set it apart, though, such as the increased coverage around the lower back for a little extra warmth and the additional zipper on the single rear pocket which now sports a thin neoprene pad to protect your back from the contents in the event of a fall.
Both items are offered in standard versions or special Independent Fabrication editions which are augmented with the respected frame builder's characteristic crown logo.
Prices: US$220/£120/€160 (Cross jersey); US$240/£130/€170 (Cross 3/4 bib shorts)