The Rapha Brevet jersey, gilet and bibshorts have been designed for long-distance 'Brevet' rides (Audax rides to the rest of us) and were tested during the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris. Comfort is the key element to this design and combining this with technical performance is a fine balance, which Rapha has executed superbly.
A combination of classic Rapha design with highlights and reflective detailing ensures a bold, yet restrained look. The cut of the jersey and gilet has been well thought through and the development of the kit in some of the toughest audax events is obvious; comfort is without question the key feature of these products.
Rapha Brevet short sleeve jersey - £130 / US$210 / AUS$230
Designed with long distance rides is mind, the Brevet jersey offers a combination of utility, comfort and performance. A full-length zipper ensures the versatility to cool off without taking away layers, while the reflective strips around the chest, back and arm contribute to visibility when the light begins to fade.
Three ample-sized cargo pockets provide enough storage for tools and food, and a separate zipped cargo pocket is designed to store the brevet gilet, although this doubles up as a great place to store your phone or wallet. A final zipped pocket on the chest is perfect for a credit card or single house key.
The polyester/merino (61% to 39%) Sportswool blend is soft and wicks away any sweat. Although thicker than a technical race jersey, and certainly heavier, the jersey benefits from a silicone gripper combined with an elastic drawstring around the waistband contributing to a great fit and an item that can be worn from dawn until dusk without discomfort. The collar also benefits from some extra length, which keeps the cold air out on those fresher mornings.
Rapha Brevet gilet - £80 / US$120 / AUS$150
The colourway of the Brevet gilet replicates that of the jersey and the two items work perfectly together. An offset zip prevents any layering issues and a high collar helps to keep the elements out. Made from windproof polyester, the gilet keeps the wind off but can equally contribute to a sweaty chest if the temperatures are anything more than mild. The back of the gilet avoids this with a mesh material allowing more than adequate breathability.
The thin material results in an easily packable item that, as mentioned above, fits perfectly into the larger cargo pocket on the jersey. Note however that they are sold separately! On the downside, there is little to no stretch in the polyester material, which when breathing heavily on a climb can feel restrictive. We would likely recommend sizing up on the gilet from the jersey.
The rear of the gilet features a large, suitably located and brightly coloured (yes, pink) area to increase visibility. Combined with the reflective bands around the chest, the gilet offers extra visibility if the light begins to fade.
Rapha Brevet bib shorts - £180 / US$285 / AUS$315
Available in either black or navy, the high quality you would expect from shorts at this price point does not disappoint. Supreme comfort from the chamois, soft polyamide/elastane material and thick straps combine to produce a great fitting pair of bibshorts that won't become a distraction after a few hundred kilometres. Considered panelling on the shorts contributes to a lack of compression, but results in fewer seams — which can cause chafing on longer rides.
Different foam densities throughout the chamois have been designed specifically for long days in the saddle. The chamois has also been perforated, which combined with the light material results in shorts that can be washed and dried overnight for the next leg of your adventure.
The large cutaway section on the back is designed to prevent overheating and although this may work, we felt the cutaway was far too low. With the array of technical fabrics out there with sweat wicking and insulating properties, there is certainly a compromise to combat both overheating and the lack of material on the back. At times, we felt our jersey rode up above the shorts, which even with a baselayer is disconcerting.
Rapha Brevet final thoughts
Rapha's Brevet collection strikes the very fine balance of technical performance and comfort needed for the exceptionally long days in the saddle that the range is designed for. The classic Rapha design is something we have come to expect from the brand, yet the features of this collection, specifically from the Brevet jersey, are excellent.
The finish and quality of Rapha's products have come to define the brand, and developing new features such as the chamois in the Brevet bibs showcases the continual development of the clothing.
If you're looking for your next big audax or a brevet challenge, be sure to consider this range when kitting yourself out. The Brevet range will not disappoint.
BikeRadar verdict: "Classic Rapha style combined with maximum comfort for the longest of days in the saddle"
Highs: Strikes the fine balance of comfort and technical performance
Lows: Cutaway back in bibshorts seems unnecessary
Buy if: You need reliable comfort for a big adventure
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