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Rapha Classic Country jersey review

18 May 2020

Exclusive, elegant, expensive. Everything you would expect from Rapha

Cyclist Rating: 
• A reminder of what Rapha does best in terms of style • Comfortable
Classic-cut sees jersey ride up • Pockets sag slightly

The Rapha Classic Country jersey range is a reminder of what this ever-popular British cycling brand does best. Recently, it feels as if Rapha’s attention has been lasered into developing new areas of the business, which is to be expected. Producing handlebar bags for gravel grinders, tiny backpacks for whippet commuters and knitted shoes for its Education First professional riders.

But while Rapha's eye may have wandered to encompass the wider cycling community, it has not forgotten about the very bedrock of exclusive, elegant and expensive kits that helped define it as the brand everybody loves to hate but secretly wants to wear.

Buy now from Rapha for £120

In that classically Rapha way, the new Classic Climbs range tells the story of 1970 World Championships in Leicester through the medium of merino wool. There’s a Dutch, Danish, Belgian and Italian jersey option and the British jersey on review here, an homage to Les West who managed to finish fourth on the day, and my personal favourite of the collection.

The red, white and blue stripes on the left sleeve are quintessentially Rapha, neat and stylish, while the small details such as the embodied ‘70’ in the rear pocket and sizeable zip tell of the jersey’s quality.

The navy body and red sleeves give me instant nostalgia of national jerseys from the past. I put the jersey on and immediately felt compelled to fuel my body with Campari and cured meats and ride with a level of souplesse that’s only possible at a cadence of 60rpm.

Rapha has opted for a classic cut with its Classic Country range which results in a box-cut style that is looser and more forgiving than your average jersey from Rapha.

While my body is not that of your usual svelte cyclist - unless you count Jan Ullrich and Carlos Betancur during the Christmas break - even I found the jersey to be quite relaxed which was both welcome relief and a slight curse.

In fact, the jersey’s loose cut is to the point where you may even need to consider sizing down if you want that fitted look. Coupled with the fact it's made from a soft, high-quality RPM150 merino wool-blend, the jersey is incredibly comfortable to ride in. It’s just the right amount of soft on the skin while still technical enough to wick away sweat and keep you cool in warmer weather.

But, because of the box-cut approach of the jersey, the bottom hem is not as tight as you’d expect from a cycling jersey and while there is a silicone strip to hold said jersey down, I did notice it occasionally rode up. But only very occasionally.

One issue you do get with a merino jersey is dreaded pocket sag. The elasticity of merino is not as robust as your usual lycra, meaning that on stuffing your pockets with anything from spare tubes to Double Decker bars, you’ll notice the pockets to drop down and there was no exception here.

With my recent rides being no more than 90 minutes, I have largely got away with quite little in my pockets, but on the longer rides, the pocket issue will become a problem.

Like a Thomas Pink shirt or a Belstaff jacket, quality clothing comes with a matching price tag and this is no different. Rapha is retailing its Classic Country jerseys at £120, which I think is expensive.

Buy now from Rapha for £120

Sure, there are very good merino jerseys on the market for around £50 less than that but they just don’t have the same style. And, I guess for the Clarks desert boot-wearing, Style Council-listening clientele this jersey will chime with most (a category to which I fall into), £120 is only what you’d expect to pay for a new John Smedley teal merino polo shirt.

After all, the Rapha Classic Country jersey feels like the kind of Rapha jersey you’d wear on only the most special of riding occasions to stoke jealousy in your closest riding mates who are not wearing Rapha but all secretly want to be.


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