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Polartec Alpha synthetic down insulation stars in new Rapha winter clothing

Rapha has today launched new Insulated clothing for cold winter training and racing, including a long sleeve jacket and a gilet utilising the excellent Polartec Alpha insulation.

Polartec might not be a name you are familiar with, but it has been gaining popularity with a small handful of clothing brands thanks to its Alpha insulation material.

Alpha is a synthetic down material with a high warmth-to-weight ratio. Air gets trapped in the insulation providing a warm layer around your body, but critically breathability is sufficient to prevent overheating. It’s ideal for typical British winter cycling when you build up the heat on the climbs but cool down at the cafe stop, as it handles this temperature variation well and remains dry. 

Fun fact: Alpha was developed in the first place for the US Special Forces who, much like cyclists, needed clothing that could regulate temperature during stop-start activity.  

Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gilet - lining.jpg

Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gilet - lining.jpg

We've just got the Pro Team Gilet in for review - that's me modelling it above. And above you the Polartec Alpha insulation on the inside of the gilet. It's very soft and fluffy. It reminds me of something...  

I’ve tested several garments from Rapha (Brevet Insulated Jacket) and Sportful (R&D Light Jacket) over the last couple of winters that make good use of Alpha to provide exceptional winter warmth with a high level of breathability. I really like it.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 11.44.20.png

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 11.44.20.png

That's the background to Polartec Alpha, the undoubted star of Rapha’s new Insulated range.  It has used Alpha in four new tops, a jacket and gilet. For men, there is the Pro Team Insulated Gilet and Pro Team Insulated Jacket, while for women there’s the Souplesse Insulated Gilet and Soupless Insulated Jacket. The jackets are priced £160, the gilets £140 and there’s a choice of colours.

Taking a closer look at the jacket, it has DWR-coated front panels to provide additional protection in bad weather, while a stretch rear panel ensures a good fit as well as allowing heat to escape. There are three rear pockets with a zipped valuables pocket and a headphone cable hole, and there are lots of reflective details to help boost visibility on long winter training rides when it’s murky and overcast.

Rapha_AW17_ProTeam_RMJ_0331.jpg

Rapha_AW17_ProTeam_RMJ_0331.jpg

As the slick promo video suggests, the tops are made to be close fitting for high tempo training and racing applications. It’s race fit stuff. Rapha suggests the jacket can be worn over a baselayer or jersey to suit different conditions.

The gilet meanwhile is small and light enough to be rolled up and stored in a jersey or jacket pocket when not in use. You still get three cargo pockets if you intend to wear it for the duration of the ride and load up with food. Like the jacket, the gilet has DWR-coated front panels to provide more protection against the elements.

We've got the gilet in for test, and first impressions are favourable. Watch out for a full review soon. There's more info at https://pages.rapha.cc/feature/rapha-insulated-racewear

- The best cycling clothing to keep you warm this winter

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.