Although Winter is supposedly coming to a close (yeah right!), I thought I’d do the Coke-Pepsi challenge testing of Rapha’s new Winter Embrocation and Chamois Cream versus my usual “go to” products: Mad Alchemy Embrocation and DZNuts “taint” cream.
While pro-cyclists like Michael Barry say embrocation really doesn’t help (he grew up in Toronto, Canada and is a top pro so I guess he knows a thing or two), I decided to start trying out embro last Fall even though I don’t race…yet (I’m too fat). I have to say I like embro but it just might be the whole process and "glam rock" aspect of lubing up the legs that I like…Anyway, this arrived in Jan.:
Oh yeah! Hello! Beautiful! As with all things Rapha, the product packaging are top shelf. Just beautiful. I was all over the whole Mont Ventoux motif as it’s on my someday climb list…as if. I loved the little boxes so much I still keep the product in the original boxes! #Loser.
So here’s how I tested Rapha versus Mad Alchemy (Mellow and Medium Russian Tea) and DZNuts: Most weekends in Jan. and Feb. I’ve been riding Saturday and Sunday usually with a long ride on one day and a shorter one on the other. Occasionally, I mixed in a Friday ride for kicks when I could. Temperatures have varied from around 20 degrees F to upper 30s. One day I’d use the Rapha products and the next I’d use the Mad Alchemy and DZNuts combo. On weekday rides, I used chamois cream only due to time constraints.
Here’s my thoughts on Rapha’s Winter Embrocation: I likey but… It smells nice and da Mrs. and Los Bebes kinda tollerate it versus running away from me when I apply Mad Alchemy (which I don’t get at all but we do live in a small NYC apartment). Here’s the thing - Rapha’s Embro felt pretty mild to me in the dead of a bad Northeast US Winter. In fact, when compared to Mad Alchemy Mellow or Medium over time, it wasn’t even as strong heat wise as MA’s Mellow. I’m thinking Rapha’s Embro might be ideal for wet 40s-ish days (when I will use it) but it’s definitely not for the dead of Winter. Winner: Mad Alchemy for Winter time. Rapha is for wet or mild March/April Northeast riding.
On to Rapha’s Chamois Cream: This stuff is dope…literally. It’s just LUVLY. The smell is flowery, yet masculine (da Brits can pull this one off).
“With a fragrance inspired by the flora around Mont Ventoux, ingredients include moisturising shea butter as well as rosemary extract to reduce fungal microbes.”
Ok. Whatever. It’s da shit. The texture was light and not as creamy as DZNuts. Like the always excellent Cyclebordom's (@cyclebordom) review, initially I was worried that the cream would not last a long ride as it felt very light on my nether regions. The good news is that it’s substantial and lasts and lasts. And it still smells relatively pleasant after a long Winter slog regardless of temperature. Major thumbs up. Does it beat DZNuts? Ummm…no. DZNuts still makes me want to sing like Dave when I put it on. But Rapha’s different…and a nice kind of different.
So here’s my overall reco - definitely get Rapha’s Chamois Cream and try out Winter Embrocation for Spring, not Winter riding. Mix it up and see what works for you.
Price-wise, each product is more expensive than comparable products. But if you buy Rapha’s Chamois Cream, Embrocation, and Soap bundled together on Rapha’s site, the price is reasonable ($45) and you get the super dope soap that’s outta this world. Yeah, it’s that good.