crankpunk ain’t never gonna wear no freakin’ wire, man, but i will come clean and spill the beans just about any day of the week. i’m a street fightin man in the mould of Mick Jagger – i’ll holler and shout for the rev-o-lution baby, heck i might even pout from time to time, and i can camp it up with the best of them, but it’s all little more than bluff and bluster - put the squeeze on crankpunk and you’ll hear me squealin’ all the way to Guadeloupe.
so, the confession must be made before the review begins:
i am friends with some of The Rapha People out here in Asia. they be good folk, far as i can see. i rode with ‘em, i got no complaints (as the outlaw Josey Wales said so succinctly). so when they asked me if i’d be interested in reviewing some of their stuff, i sensed a conflict of interests. having a been a journalist for some years i’m always wary of doing reviews for brands either owned by friends or that friends work for. i’m also a reader of online cycling sites and magazines and know just how many media outlets do little else than constantly fawn over every product that comes their way. (did anyone mention Marcel Wurst of ProCycling? no? good…). as a result, if anything, i’m even harsher on stuff passed on by people i know than i would otherwise be.
i’ve never owned anything by Rapha either. in fact, as a pro cyclist, it’s been a good three or four years since i ever actually paid money for anything cycling-related, which, if that annoys you well tough – i worked my ass off for all that stuff! but i have to say also that, if i were paying, i doubt very much that i’d be paying Rapha prices – or at least, that was what i thought, until i tried their stuff. i also had a pair of their bib shorts to test (phenomenal) and a new hard shell jacket (review coming soon on VeloNation.com), and, if i had the dough, i’d be buying both. top shelf quality in great materials and perfect – yes, perfect – fit.
but i’m not reviewing the shorts or the bike jacket today, i’m on the Transfer jacket. what exactly is a Transfer jacket? it’s a jacket. with me so far? that you wear for transfers. still there? good. though you can also wear it on the way to a race in the car on a chilly morning, or if you’re in the shed having a tinker (hey less of the giggling at the back there), or after a race to prevent a cold coming on. or anywhere, actually. i’m not one for wearing bike gear off the bike but i’ve worn this jacket down to the supermarket on a slightly breezy day, right after toweling off after a shower and even to the pub.
the first thing that strikes you about the Rapha Transfer jacket is the feel of it. superlight and lovingly soft, it’s made of something called PrimaLoftONE synthetic down, and though i wish it was filled with Queen Elizabeth’s favorite swan’s very own feathers, i suppose the synthetic stuff is more swan-friendly. once on, it’s ridiculously comfortable, sort of like an expensive hug with a zip.
it has stretchy side panels that also compose the arm cuff material, called Thermoroubaix (nicely dovetailed there by Rapha’s uberkeen marketing boffins with the legacy of Paris-Roubaix – who says they borrow liberally from the enshrined culture of the sport? Castelli? Santini? pish-posh!), which provides a snuggly sort of sensation and is altogether rather nice.
the jacket also has two side pockets with zips and a rear pouch pocket that allows you to fold the jacket in on itself when you’re not using it or when traveling. it’s understated in design too, as with many Rapha products, with just a little quilted-style feature on the shoulder and a nice ‘dropped tail’ at the back. the fit was great on me as it came, though the jacket also has a pull cord at the hem that allows the wearer to tuck the bottom up to help protect against any invading gusts of wintery wind.
to be absolutely honest i’ve had this jacket on every chance i’ve had. it’s an excellent product, expertly designed and with a function that matches the intention of the designer to a T. however it does cost $295US and if i was a consumer i wouldn’t be paying that for it – not because i don’t think it’s worth it but because crankpunk doesn’t have that kind of expendable income (not yet, anyway).
but is it worth that price tag? is that really even a valid question? i don’t think Rapha is really that bothered. they make some cracking stuff, really very very good clothing (at least what i’ve tried so far), and people buy it.
the Rapha Transfer jacket. my friends work there, and even though i wanted to, i couldn’t find much wrong with it. recommended. get it on your Christmas Wish List, now.