Rab Cinder Ridgeline Jacket review – disappointing top from the usually excellent brand
I raved about the performance of the Kinetic waterproofs from Rab’s new Cinder bike range, but it’s taken a lot longer to fully form my opinion on their Rebellion body mapped, mid layer. Unfortunately that time has largely been spent confirming that fit, pocket design/ease of use and overall performance could definitely be improved in a market that’s packed with competitors.
Design and specification
Windproof fronting fabric on an otherwise fleece top is tried and tested way to create a versatile garment for fast moving, sweat creating activities like mountain biking. Rab have used it a lot across their mountain sports range previously and their recently released $110 / £100 Windveil jacket. That uses the same 20D Pertex Quantum Air nylon fabric on the body, sleeve fronts and centre zipped pocket too, but with a different Motiv liner fabric. This features S.Café Yarn Technology which apparently speeds up drying time, “controls odor” (presumably through an antimicrobial element). It also increases UPF protection although it’s behind the outer fabric anyway. The rest of the jer-cket (it feels too light to really call a jacket, but it’s more than just a jersey) is made from Thermic G, a very stretchy recycled polyester fleece with a gridded backer to trap air while claiming to still wick fast.
Separate side panels extend up to a T-seam across the front of the shoulder, with a tall collar and pre articulated sleeves ending in elasticated cuffs. A YKK VISLON beard-guarded front zip with wind resistant internal guard splits it up the front with another YKK zip closing the big, low and central rear pocket. Two more open top ‘holster’ shaped pockets sit over the hips either side and the tail scoops right down over the butt with a silicon gripper for security. Fabrics, zips and DWR (durable water repellent) treatments are all PFC-free for the least toxic environmental footprint and Rab run an excellent repair or replacement scheme on their products.
The initial fit of the Ridgeline seems good with a nice snug collar to keep draughts out and an extended tail is generally a positive in terms of keeping lower back and buttocks warm too. The fabric also feels good against the skin on warmer days, although the limited stretch face fabric is quite noisy.
My first impressions started to stretch towards negatives the more I rode in it though. While the shoulder fit is clean and flat when stood about, stretching forward to the bars creates a lot of bunching around the armpits. Lack of length in the back of the sleeves means the cuffs pull up to expose wrists too.
It took a while to get used to the lower than normal position of the flank pockets and while the elasticated tops help keep things in, they make access harder. More seriously even with a relatively light load, fabric stretch down the back of the jer-cket™ causes a complete prolapse of the tail section. That pulls the already low pockets further down, closing the tops more in the process. More worryingly, the tail now hangs so far below the buttocks that it repeatedly catches on the back of the saddle. That’s a pain when remounting and dismounting, but is actually downright dangerous if you’re riding steep descents with your weight back.
While the fabric mix certainly seems like it should work and Rab have a deservedly excellent reputation for their fabric innovations and choices, I struggled to find a temperature/weather/exertion sweet spot that lasted for any length of time. ‘Faster drying time’ claims seem unfounded too as the Rebellion stayed damp (and therefore colder) for longer than I’d hope after sweaty climbs or hard showers.
I asked Rab for the Ridgeline to test after having such a good experience with the Kinetic waterproofs and because I’m generally a big fan of mixed fabric tops.
Ultimately, despite the premium price the baseline performance is average at best and fact the shoulder/armpit cut works badly on the bike despite obviously having extra thought put into it. The overstretchy back fleece that makes pockets hard to use and potentially dangerous when loaded is the final nail in the tail when it comes to recommending the Ridgeline in a category that’s full of well priced, better performing alternatives.
Tech specs: Rab Cinder Ridgeline Jacket
Price: $155 / £150 / €180
Sizes: XS - XL
Options: Graphene (tested), Light khaki, Orion blue