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Rapha just debuted its new Windproof Explore Pullover, straddling the line between riding gear and casual gear in a way that’s either brilliant or confused.
With a new style that’s more akin to a high street sweater than a traditional winter jacket, in many ways this piece of clothing perfectly sums up where many want cycling to go – less spandex, more on/off bike versatility. This is made possible by things like handlebar and frame bags that allow you to stow your necessities somewhere other than a back pocket. The fundamental question posed is can cycling apparel be “all things to all people”, or do we just think we look cool?
The pullover is designed to be an insulating layer for tackling milder conditions as a standalone outer layer, or colder and more wintery conditions when paired with a jacket. Rapha’s aim was to create an insulating mid layer that would also offer windproof protection and be quick-drying.
To achieve this, the pullover is made with a gridded fleece fabric that’s said to be insulating yet still breathable. Rapha has added further windproofing to the shoulders and arms in a bid to further aid temperature regulation of these areas. This should also help a riders’ hands stay warm by keeping the blood reaching these areas that little bit warmer.
In an effort to give the pullover the freedom to explore off the bike, Rapha has ignored tradition by including just one pocket and placing it on the arm. Described as an “essentials pocket” with easy access, there is no doubting that the more traditional three rear pockets would be more practical while on the bike. Bear in mind, though, that since the pullover is designed as a mid layer, Rapha is hoping you’ll have pockets or bike bags elsewhere to carry larger essentials and food. For longer or overnight adventures with planned stops the pullover also includes an integrated hanger loop said to assist with drying after a ride.
While we haven’t had the chance to test the pullover and Rapha’s insulating yet breathable claims yet, I welcome the new styling and versatility the pullover offers. Though that single pocket will still be a turnoff for many, the explosion in popularity of things like handlebar bags and frame bags make a garment like this possible, even practical, in a way it wasn’t just a few years ago.
That said, one gripe I have with many winter offerings is the limited colour options, and Rapha has followed a similar path with very few options here. Available in only green or dark navy for men and purple or dark navy for women the pullover looks fantastic but will do little to assist with visibility if your adventure takes you onto the road.
The pullover is available from November 7 costing US$165 / AU$210 / £120 / €145 in both men’s and women’s fits.
For more information visit www.rapha.cc