It can very often feel that road cycling in the British Isles requires equal measures of preparation, fortitude and optimism. Rarely suffering the extremes of heat or cold as other climates; the seasons, though defined in terms of name, often appear to blur with rain a capricious companion.
When considering the commonly quoted, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’, it’s clear that a premium is placed on items that allow an individual to venture out regardless of the forecast. That the desire to ride, rather than the threat of poor weather, should determine whether you leave the comfort of home.
In terms of performance, this attitude poses interesting challenges for clothing designers but the recent introduction of technical fabrics opens up new approaches to riding in changeable weather conditions. Balancing breathability with temperature control, wearability and packable weight is increasingly addressed by season-specific clothing items. And it’s the focused functionality of the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Wind Jacket that’s at the heart of its success on the road.
Designed to offer a layer of warmth on a chilly morning before easily rolling up and stowing in a jersey pocket, the weight of this item is key to its practicality. At only 136g for a size medium, the jacket is barely noticeable when worn. Attractively cut from a dark grey, windproof material with a slim, body-hugging fit; the breathability of the mesh back panel avoids any overheating. Worn on a typical British summer morning when temperatures can struggle to reach more than 10°C, it provides just the right level of warmth at the start of a ride before disappearing into a rear jersey pocket as you hit the first hill. An instance of a design deftly balancing form with function.
Equally useful on long descents or cafe stops, the lightweight construction and lack of bulk makes this jacket a practical alternative to arm warmers and gilet. Though not designed to offer protection from heavy and sustained rainfall, the wind-proof fabric means you still stay warm on those changeable days all too common during British summertime when a mixture of light showers and sunshine are served up in equal measure.
In terms of value for money, this is a premium product with a correspondingly premium price tag. But, as with most things in life, quality comes at a cost and the durable construction belies the jacket’s weight. Cheaper alternatives could be sourced but very often these offer compromises in the quality of the fabric and the carefully considered design features that make this item such a pleasure to wear.
View the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Wind Jacket as an investment and you’ll have a stylish and functional riding accessory from late spring through to autumn. And while fortitude is often borne of hard-won experience and optimism a state of mind, there’s no better way to prepare yourself for a summer’s ride.
Photography by @openautograph