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Rapha Gilet



Top quality performance when it comes to dealing with the weather, but lacks some of the performance functionality of some of its cheaper rivals

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Rapha Gilet, from the renowned London based cycle wear brand, is designed with milder weather in mind, the sort of changeable conditions for which the British summer and indeed autumn, depending on where you live, is famous for. It certainly ticks all the boxes that define all of Rapha's kit; stylishly understated - check, well made - check, exorbitantly priced - check.

The Gilet comes in a bag reminiscent of a suit bag immediately indicating that this is no ordinary gilet. The material itself 100% Nylon which has an almost shell-like feel, is very light and is claimed to be totally windproof. White piping runs down the sides and back breaking up the black panels and providing a degree of reflectivity for low light situations. The zip is stylishly off centred which, in conjunction with the soft material tab at the collar, helps prevent any uncomfortable neck rubbing when fully zipped up. The zip is discrete (read: small) which stops it getting in the way but also makes it difficult to manipulate with gloves on. This shouldn't be too much of a problem though, since you'd likely be wearing something much more substantial than a gilet if conditions called for full fingered gloves. A strip of elasticised mesh runs right down the back helping with ventilation.

Two pockets with angled entry are located on the rear which is something that I feel is often missing on gilets. Unfortunately though, whilst the lack of elasticity around the top of the pockets makes putting stuff into them a breeze, it also means that anything you put in there can come out quite easily too - it doesn't come as a surprise that gels hitting tarmac at 40 mph don't hold up very well. If you rarely get your hips above your shoulders then this shouldn't be an issue but it is worth bearing in mind before getting into that aero tuck. A discrete zipped pocket is also provided to the front left of the Gilet although I found that anything hard that I put in there tended to jab me in the stomach.

The fit is slim and cycling specific. The waist is cropped in before flaring out at the hem which prevents bunching around the stomach when bent over the bars. The hem itself contains an elastic cord which can be tightened if needed. The long cut back helps keep your tush dry whilst riding but isn't so extreme that it looks ridiculous whilst standing up.

Hidden away on the inside of the Gilet alongside the washing instructions, Rapha have inscribed a short tribute to Luis Ocana who crashed coming down the Col de Mente whilst defending his lead in the '71 Tour. Maybe this sort of thing floats your boat in which case that's great, but I thought it a bit contrived and unneeded. What is undeniable though is the feeling one gets when putting the Gilet on - it really makes you feel special.

The Gilet holds up well under the sort of changeable conditions that it was designed for. It provides just enough protection from a quick downpour, drying out quickly afterwards, and cuts through the wind keeping your core warm. I found that I'd instinctively grab the Gilet when heading out in anything less than perfect conditions - a testament to its performance.

With my confidence in the pockets dented, I ended up not really using them that much preferring to store my food in my jersey underneath. This uncovered another problem with the Gilet. The tight fit and lack of 2-way front zip means that getting into one's jersey pockets can be a bit of a mission. Other gilets sometimes feature a zip on the rear which allows the rider to place their hand through the gilet and access the pockets. This feature would certainly have improved the Rapha Gilet's functionality on the bike but it may have come at the expense of that oh-so-critical aesthetic.


For its intended purpose of keeping you warm in changeable conditions, and doing so with a certain style, the Rapha Gilet performs admirably with its quality feel and classy design. As a performance race garment though, the Gilet lacks some of the functionality of other offerings which have been designed with this in mind. test report

Make and model: Rapha Gilet

Size tested: M, Black

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?

Rapha have this to say about the Gilet:

"The Rapha Gilet is designed for changeable conditions during milder weather. It is windproof, water resistant and perfect for cool mornings, seasonal showers and brisk descents."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Made from an extremely breathable matt fabric, the central back panel uses elasticated mesh for added breathability. At just 115g (medium size) the gilet packs down to fit comfortably into a jersey pocket.

The latest version uses contrast trim down the rear central panel to give a stylish accent.The gilet has a full-length, offset zip with a soft fleece chin guard to prevent chafing and a lockdown puller to eliminate rattles. The gilet has a long-cut back, and a dropped tail protects from road spray.

Friction locks on the waist cord allow for easy adjustment on the move and the gilet has two elasticated cargo pockets and an additional front zipped pocket. To improve visibility, the gilet has reflective piping around the arm holes and a reflective Rapha logo at the back.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

All seams are expertly executed with no loose threads to be found anywhere.

Rate the product for performance:

From a purely asethetic standpoint, the Gilet is a seriously classy piece of kit, but its not as functional on the bike as it could be

Rate the product for durability:

The Gilet has a reassuringly solid feel despite the light weight due in part to the stout stitching

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

The Gilet is very light at a claimed 115g for a size medium, but more importantly it packs down nice and small for when you need to fit it into a rear pocket

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

I found the fit to be perfect for my lanky frame and small touches such as the fleece zip tab to protect your neck make this a joy to wear

Rate the product for value:

Although the quality of the design, construction and materials go some way to justifying the extraordinary price, there's still no getting away from the fact that this amount of money will get you some top-of-the-range bibs from the likes of Castelli, Craft, or Mavic, let alone a gilet. The Assos Climajet and Assos do one gilet, the Element Zero which is more expensive... and it has to be said significantly more at around £165.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I wish I was in a position to consider it

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Depends on the financial situation of the friend

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 20  Height: 190cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Giant TCR Advanced 2  My best bike is: Canyon Ultimate CF7

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, sportives, mtb,

For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.

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leonrushworth | 12 years ago

I also do a lot of walking and there are some major rip offs happening , TOG 24 used to be the entry level costing on jackets ect now they are as pricey as craghoppers.. Went to evans , saw some CRAFT stuff the same you can get in TK Maxx for half the price.... When sport gets popular then the prices go up , the craghopper kiwi pants have gone up by £15 over the last 2 years... shop around every time I say

amazon22 | 12 years ago

Having just paid £55 for a superb quality Gore Bike Wear active shell (windstopper) gilet, which I can't fault in any way, I find it hard to comprehend how something could be any better, certainly not more than twice the cost, with a slightly iffy pocket arrangement. The Gore has a chest pocket, increasingly a must have for phone/gps. Black is a poor safety decision - mine is a vibrant red and I feel safer for it.

Velo_Alex | 12 years ago

£115. For 100% nylon. The Rapha guys are nice enough but they're having a laugh.

nbrus | 12 years ago

Rapha clothing seems more of a status symbol than a performance brand. Much like Rolls Royce ... understated, but reassuringly expensive ... with much better alternatives available elsewhere for less...

KirinChris replied to nbrus | 12 years ago
nbrus wrote:

Rapha clothing seems more of a status symbol than a performance brand. Much like Rolls Royce ... understated, but reassuringly expensive ... with much better alternatives available elsewhere for less...

As with all brands that may be true of certain items, and Rapha have made some 'unfortunate' products that expose them to ridicule.

However if you steer away from that their performance is generally comparable to any of the best brands - they are right up there with Assos, Castelli etc.

And some of their stuff is truly superb. The Rapha softshell jacket is one of the best pieces of kit you could ever own. Their arm-warmers are pretty damned good too.

I also have to say that having compared the performance of the Shutt sportwool jersey to the Rapha lightweight, Rapha is a hands-down winner. Worth the price, if you can afford it.

Simon E | 12 years ago
Tony Farrelly | 12 years ago

and Rapha do have summer and winter sales which are pretty good. I got some of their Fixed shorts in the Winter Sale, had to wait a while to wear them, but they have been great. I've pretty much lived in them since the spring and they still look like new

zzgavin | 12 years ago

I got my white medium one in the recent Rapha sale, which made it a much more reasonable 80 pounds, still a lot of money, but it doubles as my not fluoro be seen jacket for commuting in the autumn. The gilet is as described and works very well, on Pyrenean mountain descents and on cold British autumn mornings. Very good combined with the Castelli nanoflex arm warmers too.

road slapper | 12 years ago

One day I might, just might, be able to afford some Rapha kit. Maybe when the kids have grown up and left home. I can but dream...

othello replied to road slapper | 12 years ago
road slapper wrote:

One day I might, just might, be able to afford some Rapha kit. Maybe when the kids have grown up and left home. I can but dream...

I own 2 rapha short sleeve jerseys and some arm warmers, all from ebay. You don't really get big savings on ebay on rapha gear, but there is enough money off to make it reachable.

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