If you're looking to add some luxury to your cool-weather cycling wardrobe, then Cafe du Cycliste's Yolande merino jersey is just the ticket – warm, comfortable and well fitting. It's a signature performance piece from CdC, with the styling, features and technical performance (plus high price tag) to match. It's versatile too – the soft handle of the fabric on the inside means you can wear it with or without a baselayer, while its slim cut allows you to wear a gilet or jacket on top if needed – so it will serve you virtually throughout the year in the British climate.
The Yolande is made from a proprietary Italian fabric that is in fact only 24% merino (and 72% polyester/4% polyamide). However, it has more the appearance (and odour resistance) of wool, alongside the benefits of manmade fibres, which include good wicking properties and better durability. As such, the medium to heavyweight material is fast-drying if you get caught in a shower, and it does a fine job of keeping you dry when you're pushing the pace. Of course, this breathability is aided by the lack of windproofing, and on chilly spring days I've needed to team the Yolande with a long-sleeve baselayer and gilet.
I like the figure-hugging cut (it's not me in the photos, by the way) and the decent length in both body and sleeves. Silicone gripper in the hem keeps the drop tail in place, while the sleeve loops – integrated Lycra half gloves – extend right down over your knuckles. I'm not sure if I'm sold on these as they're superfluous when it's warmer and a bit bulky when pushed up at the wrist, and when it's cold you'd be wearing gloves anyway... But they are comfy in use because they don't dig in at the palm.
Another quibble is with the collar – I'd prefer it to be taller and snugger, and the button-down flap might be a style point but prevents you easily unzipping to regulate your temperature.
As you'd expect with high-end attire, attention to detail is exemplary. The sturdy zip is backed by a broad storm flap to keep out draughts, and the cam-lock zipper is easy to grab with gloved fingers.
The three rear pockets incorporate a mini-pump sleeve and extra zipped pocket for keys/cash, and the side ones are slanted for easier access. They're not overly generous in capacity though – you can only stuff a very lightweight waterproof in. The right-hand pocket has a cable port with a corresponding exit hole at the base of the collar, to keep cables tucked away. (Unlike the men's Yolande, there is no chest pocket.) Scotchlite reflective strips on the rear, neck and sleeves enhance your visibility.
The Yolande's appearance is a matter of opinion. CdC calls it 'elegant', while my partner observed, "You look like an extra from Star Trek." Then, on spotting the elbow patches, added, "Crossed with a geography teacher." I corrected him, "It's Euro chic, don't you know!"
The stitched shoulder panels are slightly padded, handy should you ever need to shoulder your bike. It also comes in black or deep blue (the latter colour is currently discounted to £105).
Premium quality, warm and distinctively stylish wool-mix jersey for near-year-round wear
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Womens Yolande Merino Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Cafe du Cycliste says: 'A technical long sleeve jersey constructed from a proprietary merino blend and designed for almost year round riding. This women's version is comfortable, elegant and effective.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
24% Merino, 72% Polyester, 4% Polyamide
Integrated sleeve loops
Three back pockets
Zipped key pocket and pump sleeve
Audio cable system
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It machine washes fine at 30 degrees, despite the care label saying hand wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it's warm, comfortable, and wicks and dries well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The style, cosiness and fabric feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
If I were being fussy, the elbow patches and low collar.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, if I was given sufficient birthday money.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were flush!
Use this box to explain your score
It's a beautifully made garment that performs really well, though it is a lot of money...
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax