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Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket



Great minimalist emergency layer for an incredibly minimalist price

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.

  • Pros: Low price, slim fit, packable
  • Cons: Minimal protection, thin to the point of fragile, untidy stitching

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.

> Find your nearest Decathlon store here

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.

Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket - collar.jpg

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.

Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket - riding.jpg

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.)

Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket - cuff.jpg

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.

Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket - tail.jpg

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.

Van Rysel RC 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket - pocket hole.jpg

> Buyer’s Guide: 11 of the best packable windproof jackets

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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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.

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:

The stitching on each overlocked seam is pretty scraggy, but appears secure.

Rate the jacket for performance:

Useful emergency protection for very little weight, and very visible in this yellow.

Rate the jacket for durability:

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.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:

Can keep passing light showers off, and dries quickly.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:

Thin fabric and large mesh back panel don't trap any serious moisture.

Rate the jacket for fit:

A little looser around the upper arms/shoulders than anywhere else, which can lead to fluttering at speed.

Rate the jacket for sizing:

Sizing is accurate.

Rate the jacket for weight:

Barely noticeable either in a pocket or when worn.

Rate the jacket for comfort:

Stretchy panels and soft fabrics cause no issues.

Rate the jacket for value:

Very cheap for the extra protection/visibility.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No problems.

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

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.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

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

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