many years ago now, i had a small portion of a cunning plan, one of which rapha's simon mottram might well have approved. he has frequently alerted me to the fact that 2004 was the beginning of his first five-year plan for rapha, the majority of which guided the company's successful entry into the cycle clothing market. thewashingmachinepost, having reached a point in its career where it was almost self sufficient, entreated me to look slightly further afield for items that might well introduce a series of product reviews for your general edification. always assuming, of course, that i was any good at reviewing cycling products in the first place.
though the jury is still out on that latter notion, i figured that were i able to obtain a rather salubrious product for consideration, one with an appropriately stratospheric price tag attached, then others in the habit of offering shiny stuff a few weeks' holiday on islay might be persuaded that there was some intrinsic value in so doing.
with that in mind, i approached germany's carbon sports for a potential review of their lightweight standard carbon rimmed and laced wheels, a request to which they readily and rather surprisingly acceded. despite the pennies invested in such a stunning pair of race wheels, particularly when pre-fitted with a pair of continental race tubulars, these arrived in a large, wheel-sized cardboard box all the way from germany and i still recall arthur, our postie, popping into the office to tell me he had a box in the back of the van but concerned that there was nothing inside it.
a verisimilitude of that precise situation occurred a matter of days ago, when one of those enticing black delivery packs arrived from imperial works. not only was the pack remarkably thin but it transpired that the delivery note weighed more than the contents. rapha's pro team windjacket is as close to non-existent as it's likely possible to get in the world of cycling apparel. i have read of sub atomic particles that are totally devoid of any appreciable mass and i believe it likely that rapha have cornered the market in such particles with which to fabricate this stealth black jacket.
at least a part of this featherweight existence can be squarely laid at the mesh panel that constitutes the back of the jacket. hold it up to the light and you can probably see the filament in the bulb. of course, that's entirely the point; this is a windjacket, one that can be (very) easily stuffed into a back pocket (actually, you can squeeze it into an essentials case without breaking sweat. i know, because i tried). the mesh takes care of its breathability. meanwhile, the front part, and that includes the sleeves, constitutes a stunningly effective windproof barrier, carved from a fabric that is surely only a single atom thick, atoms composed of those massless sub-atomic particles.
as luck would have it, the review period consisted of some real weather, climatic conditions that differed substantially from the past few weeks of wall to wall sun and blue skies. so different, in fact, that i had the opportunity to discover that, while windproofing may be its rugged forté, waterproofing definitely isn't. but then, nobody ever said it would be. granted, a smattering of precipitation in the morning had been shrugged off with nonchalance, but when a smir had turned to proper rain, i got wet.
it should be pointed out, however, that even when close to saturation point, the windproofing was still every bit as effective as it had been when dry. and that darned near non-existent weight undoubtedly aided a predilection to dry remarkably quickly when the rain ceased.
currently the jacket is only available in black and i cannot deny that i would have welcomed something a tad brighter as an alternative such as rapha pink or team sky blue. it may be that the teamsky chaps in collaboration with whom this jacket was designed are either quite happy on the dark-side or were suitably enamoured with the stealth look (i cannot deny; it is pretty cool). i would dearly love to extend the cool by having the bike handling skills that would allow divesting myself of the jacket when warmer winds blow, without having need of stopping so to do.
but i haven't.
this jacket can be viewed as a more consummate alternative to a gilet, with a breathability that easily rivals the latter, whether worn for a few minutes or all day. in view of its designated nomenclature, the pro team windjacket is guaranteed almost permanent use in my hebridean enclave.
rapha's pro team windjacket retails at £120 and is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl
wednesday 15 june 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................