With autumn approaching, the humble gilet is about to become a must-have for most rides. With that in mind it's worth investing in a good one, something like this Rivelo Rowsley. It fits well, offers good protection from the elements and is impressively breathable. A good all-rounder.
Rivelo designs its clothing here in the UK and is keen to point out the amount of testing that goes on in our rather inclement country too. (Although when it comes to manufacturing, Rivelo, like many others, looks to China – in the case of this gilet, anyway.) The quality is very good too. At first glance there doesn't seem anything overly flashy with the 100% polyester construction, but it's the attention to all the little details that makes the Rowsley so complete.
The fabric itself is quite thick, thicker than the likes of dhb's Aeron Super Light or BTwin's race orientated Aerofit, which explains why the Rivelo is nearly double the weight. What it also means is that the Rowsley is highly durable and much better at shrugging off light rain and heavy drizzle, and it's warmer too. Being bulkier doesn't stop it folding up well; this gilet will still easily pack down to a jersey pocket size in a few folds.
Rivelo says that the Rowsley is water resistant and I'll vouch for that. After getting caught in the rain for two hours at the tail end of a ride, I was suitably impressed with how dry I remained. Not just from the rainfall but also the lack of sweat, because the Rowsley is great when it comes to breathability. It uses a mesh fabric for the side panels, which helps a lot, plus there's a little flap on the back, which is actually there to allow access to jersey pockets, but allows some heat to escape too.
With a mesh baselayer, short sleeve jersey and the gilet, I was good up to about 16°C. With the fresher evenings coming in, the windproof nature of the material stops those chills getting through to your chest, especially when your speed increases.
The fit is tailored for riding but without being too close fitting. Rivelo says its garments offer a true size and you shouldn't need to size up unless you want a relaxed fit. I actually sit somewhere between the medium and large according to the sizing chart, but the medium was spot on – fitted but with plenty of room to move around in.
The tail is dropped for a bit of bum coverage and it seemed a good length too, the front being cut short enough too to stop any bunching when in the saddle.
The zip is full length and it's a YKK one, which tend to be reliable long term, and this one certainly felt smooth in operation. Once fully zipped up there is a small fabric cover, a 'zip garage', to stop any irritation of the neck. The neck is pretty tall too, to stop any draughts from whipping down.
Colour-wise you've got this teal option or a dark blue with red detailing; both get reflective detailing down the rear for a bit of safety. Its position is pretty good too, running the full length of the body and being visible from a good angle spread.
At £60 I'd say the Rivelo is right on the money, sitting somewhere in the mid-range price-wise of gilets we've previously tested but performing near the top end. Thanks to the Rowsley's warmth, breathability and ability to combat wet weather, you'll be wearing it for quite a bit of the year, further adding to its value.
Overall, I'd highly recommend the Rivelo Rowsley as a long lasting, high performance gilet.
An excellent four-season gilet with great 'packing' qualities
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rivelo Men's Rowsley Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Rivelo says: "Gilets are the most versatile piece of kit in any cyclists wardrobe, and this one is no exception. folds down small enough to fit in your pocket, but also offers core protection if the weather turns windy, cold or damp. reflective design features ensure extra visibility - this gilet is the perfect partner for any ride."
The Rowsley is very impressive indeed in all conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
windproof, water resistant fabric yet breathable and lightweight – easily packs into your jersey pocket
central back vent for added breathability and also allow access to jersey pocket underneath without having to unzip
stretch mesh panels for freedom of movement, breathability and a performance fit
reflective piping & print details for added visibility
dropped hem at rear to protect from road spray
stretch binding ensures a secure fit
YKK full length zip with Ri lock down puller, zip garage & guard for protection
angled collar, lined in soft microfiber fabric, for comfort and weather protection
soft grosgrain ribbon back neck hanging loop
no scratchy labels – care label is laser cut and bonded
Very nicely made with impressive attention to detail.
The polyester fabric feels very tough.
A slim style gilet without being exclusively cut for racing whippets.
I sit somewhere in the middle between medium and large on the chart, and found the medium a great fit.
We've tested gilets that are near half the weight but they are very minimalist emergency versions. The Rowsley is more substantial in material and thickness.
Nice to wear and impressive breathability to keep you comfy.
Sixty quid is pretty good for this kind of quality, fit and performance.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Like most, you have to avoid fabric softener, tumble drying and that kind of thing. Thirty degree wash and drip dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well, a great product that'll see plenty of wear over the coming months.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How breathable it is.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I like a pocket on a gilet but at least this does come close with the access flap.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Rivelo seems to cover a big temperature range and loads of weather conditions which makes its 60 quid price tage reasonable. Take into account the cut, the finish and the quality and it's almost a bargain.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.