Early in 2016, I wrote some words about the Sportful R&D jacket I had in for review and said that I’d do a bunch more riding across a range of temperatures to see how it performed. I spent a lot of last winter in this jacket and found that it performed fantastically in cold and changeable conditions.
The things about this jacket that impressed me most were: how warm it is for the light weight and relative lack of bulk (it only weights 400 gms in a size small). Another really impressive aspect was how well the PolarTec fabric seemed to regulate your temperature from well below zero to towards 10 degrees.
I feel the cold, as I’m thin and don’t have much body fat and for me, this jacket was comfortable with just a long sleeve base layer (this one) even at -2 degrees celcius, which was the coldest weather I found to ride it in.
The PolarTec Alpha fabric used in the R&D jacket delivers superb warmth. It also did a surprisingly good job of regulating your temperature. I found I was completely fine in this jacket up to 8 or maybe even 9 degrees. For example, in early spring on a ride that started cold, the sun came out and I was suddenly riding in about 12 degrees, which felt very warm but managing my temperature by unzipping the jacket worked fine.
For a deep winter jacket, I was pleasantly surprised at how wide a temperature range I could ride in this jacket. However, it was definitely more suited for riders who feel the cold. I have other friends who run a little hotter and I recommended the R&D jersey equivalent instead as it has a more breathable back that lets out a little more heat.
It wasn’t perfect though and I worried about how durable the blue outer fabric would be. It feels fragile to the touch and like it could tear or catch easily but it didn’t through last winter. Also the Polartec lining (in yellow) felt quite loose and stretchy and I worried that this might loose it’s shape.
Despite my concerns, the jacket didn’t have any problems and I was left very impressed.
The 2016 Sportful R&D jacket delivers excellent warmth but without the bulk. It’s lightweight, hi-tech PolarTec fabric performs incredibly well. It’s a jacket that I look forward to wearing on cold weather rides, knowing that if the temperature happens to fluctuate on a ride either up or down, it’ll handle it with aplomb. It’s a fantastic jacket.
What I didn’t realise during last winter was that Sportful were hard at work with an almost complete re-design of the R&D Jacket. It’s now called the R&D Zero and will it still retains the Polartec fabric that’s a key element of making it such a great product, it’s really a completely new product. Almost every aspect of the jacket has been changed and improved.
Sportful describe the new jacket as an evolution but it’s a major overhaul of what was already an impressive jacket.
The outer fabric of the jacket has been switched to Windwick LT which feels like a tougher/stronger option. The Polartec lining is now red rather than yellow and a much tighter weave. There are now zippable vents on each side of your rib cage, allowing you to “tune” your level of warmth. The lining of the collar is all new and there are actual cuffs in the sleeves (which there wasn’t in the previous version). These changes have added a touch of weight – the new size small weighs 440gms.
There are still 3 pockets in the rear and reflective elements on the front and rear of the jacket. The aesthetics have been tweaked as well and the red jacket I have looks very good indeed. The price has gone up a little from £185 to £210 as a result of the design changes.
Sportful still rate the R&D Zero jacket as being for between 0 and 10 degrees. I agreed with their rating on the 2016 jacket. It’s now cold enough for me to ride the new jacket and I hope to do my first ride tomorrow.
It’s great to see Sportful not resting on their laurels. The 2016 R&D jacket was very, very good but it wasn’t perfect. The new R&D Zero looks to improve a range of aspects of the previous jacket and these should make it even better. I’m looking forward to riding in it to find out.
Thanks for reading
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