Mountain biking and the world of cycling become increasingly more popular each year and companies are frequently dipping into the realms of fashion within cycling. As a brand that has previously collab-ed with companies such as Paul Smith and Palace, Rapha has now joined up with Brain Dead to release an exclusive MTB collection. As one of the leading brands pushing the limits of fashion and cycling apparel we can expect good things from this collaboration, created for outdoor exploration and everyday style.
Since finally committing to creating kit for mountain bikers in 2020, Rapha has produced various ranges of off-road gear. This jersey is a remix of Rapha's original Trail Windblock Jersey, which is already a top hit with Rapha fans. With Brain Dead’s signature design style mixed with Rapha’s minimal branding, it certainly stands out on the trails, created for “both trail blazers and builders alike”. Layering merino wool and windproof nylon on the front panel creates a warm barrier against windchill, and a sweat-wicking layer against the skin.
Rapha isn’t exactly your cheapest cycling apparel, but with a limited edition collaboration with Brain Dead prices can be expected to rise significantly. Saying this, coming in at £125 it's only £25 more than Rapha’s Trail Windblock original. The men’s and women’s designs are identical and cost the same, both coming with a free repairs service and a patch repair kit when ordered through the Rapha website.
Design and Specifications
This windblock jersey is so effective because it’s made up of a mixture of merino wool and nylon fabric, creating a warm, cosy and chill-proof layer. By using wool, it allows the overall weight of the product to stay low, whilst still providing insulation when sweaty. The front and back panels have a 52 percent merino/48 percent nylon blend which sits against skin, where the front panel has an additional second nylon layer on the outside, acting as a protection from the elements.
With a high neck made with the wool/nylon blend, it will not chafe against the skin and will keep the cold air from getting to your body via the neckline. The sleeves are loose around the arms and come down to the wrists, cleanly finished with a merino wool cuff, ideal for that quick wipe of forehead sweat. Previously Rapha has used differing colors for the cuffs compared to the body, but with the Brain Dead collection it has kept the base color the same (purple) and just added Rapha's signature band around the arm and logo.
The actual design of the jersey is classically Brain Dead. Rapha says, “Undefined by a singular style or particular person, Brain Dead make graphic-led apparel that's supposed to stand out,” and they certainly haven't missed the mark. It’s a mixture of purple, maroon and orange, with Brain Dead’s signature graphics printed across the front and back. Inspired by not taking life too seriously and the indomitable spirit of mountain biking, the words “Hypnotic Trailz” are printed across the front. To put it simply, Rapha says, “the Trail Windblock Jersey keeps its original silhouette, but offers an unmistakably Brain Dead twist.”
Obviously the most noticeable feature of this jersey is the design and it's the main reason people will invest in this particular item instead of the classic Rapha Trail Windblock version. Although designed to be worn on the bike, I found it is great off-bike MTB wear too, especially since Brain Dead is mainly a leisure fashion-based company. It’s lacking any reflective strips for night time riding but the loud design is pretty unmissable.
Having a lightweight jersey is a major plus in my books; as someone who is always warm and tends to sweat a lot when riding, a breathable jersey is key. As well as being able to wick sweat easily, I found it held its warmth when the temperature dropped – that's the merino wool doing its job. I didn’t need to wear a base layer when the temperature reached above 15 degrees Celsius but below 15 I’d suggest a thin base underneath. Saying this, be wary about assuming you can layer up underneath as I found the sizes came out a lot smaller than expected. I wear a small in most Rapha kit but ordered a medium to achieve a loose-fitting style and even then it is slightly too tight around the arms/chest. I would happily size up to a large for a looser fit. Luckily the returns/exchange process on Rapha is simple – a necessary feature when forking out for a rather expensive bit of kit.
I found the windproof panel surprisingly effective, especially when descending. It saves carrying around that extra gilet or wind jacket just to keep my chest warm. The sleeves aren’t technically windproof but provide a good layer of warmth nevertheless. However, I would say when I wore a long-sleeve base layer underneath I found the lack of windproofing on the arms wasn't an issue anymore, especially in temperatures below 10 degrees C.
In general, the Brain Dead X Rapha Women's Trail Windblock Jersey is very useful item of clothing to own, especially if you are a mountain biker all year round. It's perfect for when the seasons are changing over fall or spring and you don’t want to worry about carrying loads of clothing. I think Brain Dead and Rapha have done a really good job with designs, ensuring they stand out from the crowd. If you like what you see, definitely check out the whole range that has been released. It really appeals to the fearless, rebellious and playful explorers in the mountain biking scene. Once again with Rapha, pricing can be out of most people's price range but if you’re looking for good-quality kit, it's your best bet!
Tech specs: Brain Dead X Rapha Women's Trail Windblock Jersey
- Price: $150.25 / £125.00 / €141.07
- Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
- Colors: Orange/Dark Purple