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review

Specialized Women’s RBX Comp Rain Jacket

6
£140.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Decent protection and well made, but poor pocket design and a shorter-than-average tail let it down
Well made
Four-way stretch fabric
Short in body for some
Poorly positioned and small pockets
Weight: 
193g

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The Specialized RBX Women's Comp Rain Jacket is a substantial waterproof best suited for rides that start out in the rain. It offers good protection on the bike, without causing excess sweating. However, it lacks length in the body and the pockets aren't very well thought out.

When I pulled the RBX out of the packet, the jacket's weightiness struck me first. At 193g, it's hardly going to feel heavy on you, but equally it's not an ultra-thin shell that you can whip on and off on the hoof. By comparison, 7mesh's Rebellion Jacket rolls up much smaller and is 30g lighter.

The second noticeable quality is the clean construction; it feels and looks like it's made to last, though it's too early to say how well the fabrics will continue to perform in the long run.

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I come up as medium on Specialized's size chart, and the medium on test fits well around my body, but it lacks the length I'd like in a waterproof. On the bike, the front is good, but the 'tail' isn't long enough for my liking. Laid flat, the rear only sits a couple of centimetres lower than the front.

The arm length was just right for me, and the collar height is generous, as is often the case with waterproofs. However, the waterproof YKK AquaGuard zip is really rigid. I found that if it wasn't fully zipped up, with the tag securely in the garage, it would catch under my chin. This wasn't just an annoyance, it actually rubbed sufficiently to create redness.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - zip and buffer.jpg

On the plus side, if you need ventilation you can avoid unzipping at the top as it's a two-way zip.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - hem.jpg

The fabric has four-way stretch, and moves well with you on the bike. From being down on the drops to moving about out of the saddle, I never once felt restricted by the jacket.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - shoulders.jpg

I've had it out in some pretty rough conditions and it's protected my torso from the worst of the elements. Every seam is neatly finished and I felt like the jacket was doing exactly what it is designed for. Plus, I didn't sense getting excessively sweaty. If it stopped raining, I didn't feel the need to immediately remove the jacket; it was an appreciated additional layer that was invariably protecting me from the wind too.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - hem elastic.jpg

Light rain beads on the surface and rolls off, and it's tolerant of this for two or so hours. However, anything very heavy and persistent does eventually penetrate it; rain stops beading and weighs down on the fabric's surface.

The jacket's ability to keep me dry in light rain hasn't deteriorated in the month of testing, but a month isn't that long really. So far, it's as good as any non-Gore-Tex/Shakedry garment I've tried.

> Buyer’s Guide: 37 of the best waterproof cycling jackets

The label tells us that the jacket consists of three different shells: one is 100% polyester, another 82% nylon and 18% spandex, the last 80% polyester and 20% polyurethane. The latter is providing the waterproofing without compromising on breathability.

Specialized hasn't used any Velcro on the cuffs, so getting the jacket off in a hurry isn't really possible (assuming you have gloves on). Zero Velcro will be a winner for many, though – no snags on clothing or socks attached to cuffs in the laundry.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - cuff.jpg

I tended not to use the jacket as an emergency layer; I donned it for rides that were clearly going to be rainy from start to finish. It does roll down but it's hardly compact, and certainly didn't fit in all my jersey pockets. Using the integrated pouch for stowing it away doesn't really help either as it's bigger in this form than a tight roll.

2021 Specialized RBX Comp Women's Jacket pouch.JPG

My biggest gripe with the jacket is the pocket placement and size. They sit way too high up the back for my liking; it was literally impossible for me to access them on the go, and hard even while just standing.

2021 Specialized RBX Comp Women's Jacket pocket placement.jpg

Also, they have very little capacity. A cased smartphone would only just fit in, and I would have to pack it before putting the jacket on. Removing it mid-ride was a no-no – reaching it and then teasing it out were both too big a challenge.

2021 Specialized RBX Comp Women's Jacket pocket capcity.JPG

The zipped pocket is very small too, though sufficient for keys or loose change.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - zip pocket.jpg

After a couple of weeks of testing I resorted to not even using the (open) pockets. To add to the awkward positioning, they retain water that runs down off the back.

2021 Specialized Womens RBX Comp Rain Jacket - pockets.jpg

I'm not a fan of black, particularly in a jacket with this purpose. There are a couple of reflective strips and a logo on the rear pockets, but other than this, nothing to make you stand out on a dreary day, though it does of course have its advantages in terms of not showing up stains and dirt so much. There's a maroon version as well, which would be much more striking.

Value

Comparing this to something like 7mesh's £220 Copilot Jacket, the Specialized looks a reasonable price. However, this will all depend on whether or not you're happy with the body length and pockets.

Pearl Izumi offers something a little more versatile with its Elite Escape Jacket. The waterproofing might not match Specialized's, though, and it's actually heavier too, but it's cheaper at £120.

> Read more road.cc reviews of women’s cycling clothing here

You could go lighter with something like Sportful's Hot Pack NoRain Jacket, which we reviewed back in 2017. It offers similar protection and features, but the price has gone up to £175.

In short, the Specialized RBX Comp Rain Jacket isn't over-priced if you consider its performance and quality, but its body length and poor pocket design let it down somewhat.

Verdict

Decent protection and well made, but poor pocket design and a shorter-than-average tail let it down

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Specialized Women's RBX Comp Rain 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?

Specialized says, 'Getting caught in the rain is one thing, but starting your day in lousy conditions is a whole other story. For when mother nature decides to rain on your ride, grab the RBX Comp rain Jacket. It's waterproof shell and 4-way stretch will keep you warm and comfortable in even the nastiest conditions.'

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Specialized lists these details:

-Waterproof Shell has 4-Way Mechanical Stretch built into the knit, allowing the jacket to fit and feel comfortable on your body, on and off the bike.

-Watertight YKK AquaGuard® zippers prevent unwanted water seepage.

-Three back pockets help to secure all your ride needs, right where you want them.

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Quality is great, placement of pockets and their size, not so good.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for durability:
 
7/10

No concerns so far about the stitching and construction.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

Good for very light, continual rain. The heavy stuff will penetrate it.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

In cooler conditions I didn't feel as though I was overheating, even when working relatively hard.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
6/10

Great everywhere with the exception of body length, for me.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
7/10

True to size.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
6/10

'Feels' heavier than it is.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
6/10

Feels good on a bike. The four-way stretch is accommodating and moves well with the body. The zip can irritate if not done up fully, and I wouldn't say reaching to access the pockets is 'comfortable', if possible at all for those who lack a little shoulder and arm flexibility.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
6/10

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

I've only put it through a couple of cool cycles and it's come out fine. The black option will likely mean less washing.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Keeps the torso protected from the elements while being comfy and stylish, though it fell short in protecting the lower back.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Quality of construction and decent protection.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Pockets and lack of drop at the rear.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?

You can pay a lot more for Shakedry and Gore-Tex jackets – 7mesh's Copilot Jacket is £220, for example, but even dhb's Aeron Rain Defence Polartec Jacket is a tenner more at £150, while Sportful's Hot Pack NoRain Jacket has gone up to £175. Pearl Izumi's Elite Escape Jacket is cheaper at £120, but the waterproofing might not match Specialized's.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? It was okay.

Would you consider buying the jacket? No

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? If they are short in the body and have good flexibility, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Top quality and performance are somewhat overshadowed by a lack of a drop at the rear and poorly placed pockets. It's quite good, but could be better.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 173cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Road  My best bike is: Carbon road.

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

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