The Rapha Classic Long Sleeve jersey is a comfortable, versatile garment that now comes with eco credentials as well as Rapha's traditional style. The price is above average at £125/$175, but is justified by a high quality look and feel and good durability.
Made with recycled fabrics
Size down if you're after a closer fit
By Simon Smythe published
Rapha has gone back to its roots with the Rapha Classic Long Sleeve Jersey (£125/$175) but has updated the iconic garment for the modern, more eco-conscious era with a new fabric.
Originally known as ‘sportwool’, the new Rapha Performance Merino 190 is made from 36 per cent merino and 64 per cent post-consumer recycled polyester.
According to Rapha, using recycled polyester reduces its reliance on virgin materials and gives a second life to materials that would otherwise go to landfill.
Rapha’s aim is to be a carbon-neutral company business by 2025 and using recycled materials is only one of a raft of changes it’s making, including transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy and using 100 per cent low-impact packaging.
Rapha Classic Long Sleeve Jersey: construction
The RPM190 fabric in the construction of the Rapha Classic Long Sleeve Jersey is slightly heavier than that in the similarly reworked Classic Short Sleeve Jersey, which is now also made from a recycled polyester/merino blend.
Compared to the older Rapha long-sleeved jerseys, however, the new fabric is noticeably lighter and finer. This size M sample at 268g weighs 40g less than a 2015 equivalent, despite the older jersey having a higher wool component.
It’s also stretchier, less bulky and much more chic with a smooth, luxury feel – there’s something of the cashmere cardigan about it.
The cut, features and general layout are all very familiar though: there are the three rear pockets with slightly angled openings, including the zipped valuables one with the ring puller. There’s also the cord lock adjuster at the bottom hem that allows you to cinch it in. The cuffs are longer over the backs of the hands and the medium-height collar has the usual turned-over zip garage. There’s also the signature Rapha armband on the left sleeve.
What’s different, as well as the fabric, however, is the fit: Rapha says it has a “refined classic fit” which it says means a “close but relaxed fit, longer in the torso and suited to longer rides.” This is applicable to Rapha’s Classic, Brevet and Core ranges.
The standard Rapha medium – the size of the old Club jersey I’m comparing it to – used to be a little smaller, especially around the torso, so if you’re looking for a tighter fit you might want to size down. I’m 178cm/69kg and this is a medium in the photos. The model on Rapha’s website is 6ft (183cm) and wearing a small, which fits like a race jersey.
Despite the comparatively loose fit, it doesn’t suffer from pocket sag thanks to Rapha’s usual highish placement of the pockets.
Additionally, as I've always found with Rapha jerseys, the cut is still flattering.
The workmanship is great – it’s very neatly stitched with a very high-quality look and feel. I have to admit I’m always a little surprised when I see that Rapha clothing is made in China when some of its rivals manage to make theirs in Italy – it doesn't seem to fit with the brand's philosophy – but whatever you think of that, build quality is excellent.
There’s green and dark navy to choose from, as well as this all-black scheme.
The Rapha Classic Long Sleeve Jersey is lightweight and breathable enough that it can be worn whenever you’d wear a short-sleeved jersey with arm warmers. It’s mid-May as I write, and it’s perfect for these breezy, changeable days or for mornings and evenings when the temperature is a bit lower – though it’s not windproof of course.
With less bulk than the older Rapha long-sleeved jerseys it also works well as a mid layer.
I wore the Rapha Classic Long Sleeve Jersey for the first time on a three-hour club run that started at a chilly 5°C but ended much warmer and sunnier (and faster). With a short-sleeved base layer underneath and a windproof gilet over the top it was perfect throughout. Merino is renowned for both its breathability and its insulating, and this ride was a perfect example of how it does both. For temperature regulation it's hard to beat.
The understated look and slightly more relaxed fit mean it’s great for café or pub rides too. As I write, it’s still pub gardens only and I’ve found that as night falls, beer goes down and core temperature drops, it’s perfect.
Value and conclusion
The Rapha Classic Long Sleeved Jersey at £125/$175 is not the cheapest LS jersey out there. We liked the Santini Colore a lot, which is cheaper at £90. However, in Rapha’s own range it’s priced below the Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey at £150.
So the Rapha Classic Long-Sleeve Jersey has become one of my favourite items of clothing lately and I anticipate it will get a lot of use. It’s been through the wash a few times and still looks brand new, so I have no doubt it will still be around – like my 2015 Club jersey – to compare to subsequent generations of Rapha clothing and I am confident it will fare well against them.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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