A comfortable jersey with ample pockets that are well supported so they don't jump around. The coin purse and see-through pocket had us raising our eyebrows, but otherwise, this is a great piece of kit.
Pockets that stay put
Performance price tag
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When Rapha revealed its collaboration with US fitness brand Outdoor Voices, the kit was released alongside a marketing campaign that certainly broke the mould. Outdoor Voices is very much a fitness clothing brand (think Lululemon, Sweaty Betty), and this range is targetted more at riders who might be transferring from other sports, or who, for whatever reason, aren't fully on-board with the traditional lycra affair.
The kit is a little bit more relaxed, and there are some features that we're not used to seeing in cycling clothing. However, that doesn't mean to say it's not designed to perform on the bike.
The fabric is made from 88 percent Polyester and 12 percent Elastane. It's dyed and sublimated, which means the fabric retains its colour when stretched. This material feels extremely soft to the touch, and I found it to be breathable enough for humid summer evenings.
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The product description states you're getting 'aero fabric'. I think dedicated riders will need to adjust their frame of reference: it's more aero than a baggy t-shirt, but this isn't a close fit. I usually border X-Small and Small in Rapha's range, I tested a Small and whilst the fit was close enough not to be flappy, there's also plenty of breathing room. I wore this jersey on relaxed gravel rides, I'd wear it for spins with friends, but probably not for a fast-paced chaningang ride.
The sleeves and hem are elasticated but don't fit too tightly.
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Unzip the jersey, and inside you'll find strips of green (in this colourway) back tape. These hold the pockets in place. It's the first time I've tried a Rapha jersey with the technology and it's an absolute game-changer.
On one gravel ride, I filled my pockets with a chunky tube, pump, two tyre levers, two full-sized Allen keys, phone and keys. It was only on my return that I realised I'd not noticed my pockets jumping about. At all. Not once. For a loose fit jersey, this was an absolute revelation. So big kudos to Rapha there.
There are a lot of pockets: three main compartments, two zipped pockets, plus one transparent 'outside' pocket sewn on top of the central compartment. I was less keen on the outside rear pocket which houses a zipped 'coin purse/essentials pouch' attached via a popper. I just don't understand why it's see-through, the essentials pouch adds bulk and I rarely (if ever) ride with coins.
The see-through pocket uses the same fabric as the rain jacket in the Rapha + Ourdoor Voices collection. Asked about the decision, product designer Agata Jasinska said: "We wanted to visually connect the jacket and jersey, as the see-through pocket is made with jacket fabric. It was also a way of creating additional pockets without adding extra bulk to the jersey and continuing the utility/added storage story that is going through the collection."
I can see the logic, and perhaps this feature might appeal to those riders less indoctrinated in cycling culture's sometimes rigid aesthetic, but for me, it's not a winner.
The necessity (or lack thereof) of the coin purse and see-through pocket is my only real quibble with this jersey, though - aside from that, I love it. It's not a race fit garment - don't pick it up for the weekly thrashfest, but if you're out for a spin and want to feel comfortable whilst enjoying all the technical details of a dedicated cycling jersey then it's ideal.
At £120, it's not cheap - there are basic cycling jerseys available for much less. Rapha's own 'Core' jersey is designed to meet newer cyclist's needs and costs just £60, with the more performance orientated Pro Team training jersey at £85 (the Pro Team race jersey is £120, like this one). In this case, I think customers are paying extra for the design and aesthetic. This said, the fabric is high quality, the design is attractive and that pocket support is worth its weight in gold.
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