Van Rysel's RC 500 Ultralight Windproof jacket is light, very bright and packable. Better still, the price is excellent for something cut (mostly) well enough for serious road riding – it's an ideal emergency layer to stash in a saddlebag or pocket.
With its translucently thin ripstop polyester fabric and large mesh back panel, the RC 500 Ultralight is never going to hold off serious storms or rain (or boil you inside it). It is, however, going to do a better job of protecting you than a £20 note, so it seems a fair swap.
The jacket swallows itself into an internal pocket to end up around the size of a pasty (I'm hungry, OK?), so carrying it is little bother. The build is as simple as it gets: tiny (colour-coded) plastic zip, elasticated hem, elasticated cuffs and a mid-height collar. It's still got room for nice details, though.
The collar is soft lined, both ends of the zip get garages, and there's a plastic pull tab to help when gloved. The cut is pretty well judged, with slim arms and torso (the latter helped further by the stretchy mesh back panel). I didn't get any fluttering below 25mph, though beyond that the shoulders would politely start crackling, very quietly, as there's a bit too much room there even for my broad frame.
The stitching on the overlocked seams is a messy, but it's hard to complain given the price. Van Rysel, if you haven't heard, is Decathlon's new premium brand, and in part replaces its now defunct value-focused B'Twin brand. (Van Rysel translates as 'from Lille', but the label confirms this jacket is most definitely van China.)
The Ultralight does a reasonable job of preventing cold winds from stealing your heat on descents, though there's only so much a paper-thin layer lying against the skin can do. It's definitely enough to justify carrying it, and good to have when the sun goes in on a peak. It even takes the misery out of drizzle. Every time I've stopped to put it on, I've been happy I did.
There's even a wide vent, held shut by elastic, for access to jersey pockets. A nice touch, though in practice it's easier to just lift the jacket than fish around through the elasticated overlap.
The RC 500 Ultralight is a really handy bit of kit that can take the sting out of unexpected dips in the weather, and an absolute bargain to boot. In fact, it's not that easy to find a competitor at this price. Only two of the 11 jackets included in our own buyer's guide (above) are below £50. One is the Polaris RBS Pack Me at £30, and the other is... this one.
Great minimalist emergency layer for an incredibly minimalist price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Decathlon says: "Specially designed for cool morning rides and hill descents, this ultra-light jacket offers superb protection from the wind."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
The specs include:
- Ventilation: Back entirely made of mesh fabric for excellent breathability
- Accessible pocket: back flap for very easy access to the jersey's pocket.
- Storage: Built-in compacting pocket
- Comfort: Cover for the zip at the top of the closure to prevent chafing on your neck from the zip
- Protection: interior tab along the zip to prevent air from entering through the zip.
- Support: elastic at the waist and wrists for excellent support.
The stitching on each overlocked seam is pretty scraggy, but appears secure.
Useful emergency protection for very little weight, and very visible in this yellow.
It feels a little fragile. The fabric is very thin (though it is ripstop) and the stitching isn't the best, but take a little care putting it on – and don't crash – and it should last OK.
Can keep passing light showers off, and dries quickly.
Thin fabric and large mesh back panel don't trap any serious moisture.
A little looser around the upper arms/shoulders than anywhere else, which can lead to fluttering at speed.
Sizing is accurate.
Barely noticeable either in a pocket or when worn.
Stretchy panels and soft fabrics cause no issues.
Very cheap for the extra protection/visibility.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. Takes the edge off passing showers or cloudy descents, and is light enough to habitually keep on hand, though it can flap (very quietly) around the shoulders.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Light and handy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Slightly flappy fit around the shoulders; doesn't scrunch up that small.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's unbelievably cheap.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very useful as far as it goes – it mitigates against windchill and can stand a bit of drizzle, adding small but meaningful protection. It's not that well made, but good enough for the price... which all leads to a solid 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking