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The Van Rysel 900 Winter Jacket – or Cold Weather Extreme Racer Jacket as it's described on the Decathlon website – offers a good fit, plenty of warmth and loads of neat touches like the removable breastplate/balaclava ensemble tucked away inside. Breathability is pretty good, and so is the price.
Van Rysel is French sports superstore chain Decathlon's performance road range, covering everything from top end carbon fibre bikes right down to bottle cages and, of course, clothing.
The jacket on test here is a softshell that offers loads of windproofing without being overly bulky, with a bit of water resistance thrown in for good measure.
With a long sleeve baselayer underneath, I found the Van Rysel to have a comfortable working range from around 7°C down to at least -3°C which was the coldest temperature experienced during testing. That's without the need for using the included breastplate. It's only thin but it's as an extra layer between the jacket and your jersey/baselayer so is easily going to buy you an extra few degrees.
The attached balaclava works well in icy cold conditions, sitting under your helmet and keeping ice-cream headaches away on the fast descents, so it's a neat little addition.
The conundrum with any jacket that stops the cold wind entering is how to get your body heat transferred to the outside world, but the Van Rysel does a pretty good job of it.
For the majority of training rides where I'm pushing quite hard, I never felt as if the jacket was getting overwhelmed. Even when climbing there wasn't much in the way of clamminess unless you're hammering it and the outside temperature is closer to 10°C than freezing.
There are no underarm vents on this jacket, so if you do need to let some heat escape you need to drop the main zip a bit.
Even if you do get a bit sweaty the Van Rysel keeps you warm, so you won't really notice anyway until you take the jacket off at the end of your ride.
The water resistance works fine for continuous light drizzle, fog or even light showers, but it isn't going to keep out heavy rain or downpours. To my mind, on those rides you'll be better off with a hardshell anyway.
When it comes to carrying kit there is plenty of room in the three rear pockets. They have a decent depth, and the fabric is taut enough that they don't sag when fully loaded.
The middle one also has a zipped valuables pocket on the outside of it, which has an opening for headphone cables that passes through the middle pocket as well to the inside of the jacket. Ideal if you're a pro and need to route your radio through it... or you just enjoy listening to music or podcasts while riding.
Another neat touch is that the opening to the two side pockets are sloped downwards, giving easier access when on the bike.
The full-length zip has a wind baffle behind it and also comes with a zip garage top and bottom. The zip garages are also reflective to match the large panels on the shoulders. There is also more reflective material around the zip of the valuables pocket.
When it comes to the cut, the Van Rysel is pretty form fitting although not quite as close as some other race jackets on the market – there is a little bit of room to move.
I found there to be plenty of length in the arms and the tail is dropped enough to give decent lower back coverage. It's held in place by a silicone strip and I had no issues with it riding up when crouched over on the handlebar.
The sizing is more generous than some European brands so you shouldn't need to size up like you do with some Italian clothing; if you normally wear medium, you'll be a medium in the Van Rysel too. I found the size guide on Decathlon's website accurate, if you do want to check.
Taking everything into account, the Van Rysel looks to be competitively priced at £79.99.
A similar kind of softshell from dhb, its Aeron Rain Defence Polartec jacket, which offers good windproofing and some rain resistance, has an rrp of £130.
We rated the Kalf Club Men's Softshell jersey very highly thanks to its temperature regulation, good weatherproofing and fit, and while it sounds to have the edge on performance over the Van Rysel it is an extra 40 quid at £120.
Overall, the Van Rysel is a good all-round softshell for the cooler months, offering plenty of performance for not a lot of money.
Great windproofing and all-round performance from a well-priced softshell
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel 900 Winter Road Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Decathlon says, "Developed and tested by our passionate teams for extreme winter conditions, this jacket will protect you during your outings.
"The technical fabrics of this jacket protect from the cold and light rain. The removable hood and breastplate provide secondary protection in the event of very cold temperatures."
You can't really fault its performance in very cold conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Removable hood & breastplate. Windproof front/back. Fleece inner; raised collar.
Ventilation zones on the shoulders.
4 pockets (one water repellent), to keep items separate.
Fabric protects from light rain.
Stretchy fabric on the cuffs. Elasticated band on the back.
Realistic sizing for the UK market and it matched the size guide on Decathlon's website.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A simple 30 degree wash will keep the jacket clean without any issues.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great windproofing to keep you warm on the descents.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Works really well in cold temperatures for such a thin jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Nothing really stood out to be disliked.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is very well priced against the opposition. I've mentioned a couple in the review but even the dhb Classic FLT Softshell which offers no water resistance is still slightly more expensive at £90.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A very good, well made softshell that covers quite a large temperature range and is ideal for when the conditions get really cold.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!