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Rapha Classic Jersey II review

4 Sep 2020

Latest iteration of the original Rapha jersey is the perfect piece of three-season kit

Cyclist Rating: 
Stylish looks • Sky-high comfort • Hugely versatile • Functionally brilliant
Little to grumble about; it’s not even prohibitively expensive

It took a decade from the forming of One Direction for Harry Styles to develop into a credible solo performer. The Beatles crammed their entire creative output into a 10-year period. In the same amount of time, Rapha developed the original Classic jersey into the Rapha Classic Jersey II you see before you.

Which was the more culturally significant contribution? Depends on who you’re speaking to. One thing’s for sure (besides my proclivity for listening to Harry Styles): over the years, Rapha has developed this jersey – the first garment the company ever produced – into something which, in my eyes, is utterly untouchable.


Soft touch

For a jersey that’s cut so generously, leaving plenty of room for manoeuvre in its ‘regular fit’ construction, the Rapha Classic Jersey II is unfathomably comfortable.

This is largely thanks to the mix of polyester and Rapha’s proprietary merino wool. It wicks away sweat on hotter days, is naturally anti-microbial (so doesn’t pong after a wear or two), and on colder rides, the fabric helps you to stay warm.

Comfort is boosted further by the application of bonded (rather than sewn) seams throughout, and a delightfully soft, high neck. A pull cord at either side of the hem will tighten it to your torso, while a silicon gripper on the dropped tail anchors it securely to bibshorts.


Three seasons in one day

In the two months I’ve been wearing it, the Rapha Classic Jersey II has lent itself to rides touching 30°C (unzipped, flapping in the wind behind me, admittedly), and at the other end of the scale has acquitted itself well on (unexpectedly) rainy rides, and colder, early-morning jaunts.

In fact, the way in which merino wool insulates your core and continues to breathe when wet – providing you’re still putting in the effort on the pedals and not huddling under a motorway flyover waiting for the storm to pass – made one sodden ride in late-May much more bearable than it would have been had I the foresight to pack a rain cape.

Wear this jersey with a baselayer and arm warmers in spring, on its own, unzipped to the max in summer, and use it as an essential weapon in your layering arsenal for autumn.


Form and function

There’s no getting away from it: many have copied but few have come close to achieving the class and style of a Rapha jersey. The single armband and subtle embossed logo at the left arm are the only clue as to its branding, but the cognoscenti will spot it a mile off.

Unlike some copyists, the Rapha Classic Jersey II packs a whole heap of function into its elegant form. The three deep pockets to the rear comfortably carry four gels and a Clif Bar (left pocket), multitool, mini pump and lightweight gilet (central pocket), plus an iPhone and Morrisons bag for life (right pocket) with ease.

A zipped pocket with weatherproof closure and reflective detail will carry a bankcard (on dry rides), or a music device (it has a headphone port inside, if that's your thing).

The frontal zipper is a cinch to get up and down, and has a neat storm flap for extra wind protection. This is the rare occasion on which I see no faults with a riding garment. It’s even stood up to multiple machine and hand washes without losing its shape.

Personally, for something this durable, classy and versatile, I don’t even think you can argue with the price.

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews


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