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Evolution of a Classic
The arrival of the cold weather gives us the chance to celebrate one of the truly iconic Rapha products, the Rapha Classic Softshell Jacket. First launched in 2004, it’s a product that sums up perfectly the Rapha philosophy. It’s impeccably well-designed, has exceptional levels of performance and functionality and is extremely comfortable to wear. Perhaps just as importantly as all of the above, its clean lines and pared down looks have become synonymous with understated cycling style.
The story of the Rapha’s Classic Softshell Jacket began with our own experiences as riders, specifically, the need for an all-day shell that was windproof, breathable and didn’t involve fluorescent Lycra. The result, six years later, is a high-performance, rugged winter jacket The Times dubbed “a thing of beauty”.
The basis of this success lies in the high-quality softshell fabric, to which Rapha applied a synthetic membrane to make the jacket windproof and water resistant. To this we added a host of innovative technical features, each one reworked and refined during countless hours of testing: the jacket’s trademark reinforced shoulder pad, for example; or the drop-down storm tail with reflective Rapha logo, both instantly recognizable as classic Rapha.
Many of these were firsts in a cycling jacket: the stylish use of softshell; a buttonhole and routing loops for earphone cables; the offset zip to make layering more comfortable; and copious storage in the rear cargo pockets.
As you’d expect from a company committed to comfort and performance, Rapha has tweaked things along the way. In recent years, we’ve added side panels to give the jacket a better fit and also repositioned the underarm zips to make them easier to use. A new pocket layout has made the back of the jacket more streamlined and we’ve also added a red colourway to sit alongside the original black. This year also saw the launch of the first Classic Softshell for women, with a shape tailored specifically for women riders. Otherwise, the jacket has remained more or less true to its original design.
That’s what makes it one of the best winter investments a rider can make. The weatherproof fabric, ample storage and chafe-free seams make it the perfect outer layer for long, cold training rides. At the same time, smart tailoring, a breathable fabric and wear-resistant shoulder patch make it the ideal city riding crossover. And don’t just take our word for it:
“The rear pockets are perfectly placed. The back flap is stunningly reflective. It’s warm and soft. I adore the inner hand covers with thumb holes… a genius addition.”
– Selene Yeager, aka ‘The Fit Chick’, Bicycling Magazine (USA)
“The best road jacket money can buy.”
– Cycling Plus
“It is the cut that sets it apart… no wonder it looks more at home on the pages of GQ than Cycling Monthly.”
– Daily Telegraph
“[Proof that] bike gear needn’t commit crimes against fashion.”
– The Independent