The Café jersey from UK brand Chapeau! is perfect for those hot summer day rides and commutes thanks to the use of bamboo fibre in its construction. Its breathability and wicking performance are absolutely stunning.
This is a heavy jersey compared to the usual lightweight lycra outfits we are given to test this time of year; a lot of the mesh style jerseys that are touted for maximum cooling on a scorching mountain ascent weigh getting on for half of this 220g heft.
Because of its weight I was hanging back on testing it considering the temperatures were exceeding 30°C for more than a week. But after a bit of research into the benefits of using bamboo fibres in clothing (the Café jersey is 64% made of the stuff) there was plenty of blurb quoting its impressive sweat wicking properties and high breathability.
What a perfect time to get testing then. With the Garmin showing temperatures in the high twenties at 9am I knew I was going to be in for a hot ride but the Café jersey didn't feel overly clammy or heavy when I was wearing it. It wasn't noticeably cooler than any other summer jersey but definitely nowhere near the sweatbox I was expecting.
The biggest surprise was just how dry you remain even when you are really pushing it. Perspiration was pouring from my head on every climb and sprint of the 50-mile loop and the jersey never got more than slightly damp.
It remained smelling okay too if you were to ride in it day after day. That makes it perfect for daily commuting or touring which is good as that's exactly how Chapeau! Intend the Café jersey to be used. It's perfect for those rides where it's not all about speed but where you want to have a decent fitting, high performing jersey that doesn't scream racer.
You still look like a cyclist when you are wearing the Café jersey but it'll pair up with a pair of casual shorts just as well as a pair of lycra bibs. The fit is relaxed. It's no figure hugger but it has been cut to offer a flattering look and reduce bagginess. The small size here fit me a treat all over and the range goes up to a 46' + chest size.
You get a dropped tail for when you are in the saddle plus some roomy sleeves with a bit of give in the cuff. At the front there is only a seven inch zip but given the cool nature of the jersey it is all you need really. You get a total of four pockets, three in a traditional setup across the lower back plus a zipped valuables one.
These pockets are the only thing about the whole jersey to really irk me because they aren't very supportive. I'd like a bit more elastane in the mix to add a bit of tightness to them as carrying something like a phone or even an inner tube can really make them sag and bounce about when you are on the bike.
I think that £49.99 is a pretty sensible asking price for this style of jersey when you take everything into account. It's well made, well designed, very comfortable and let's not forget about its performance. Included in that price is Chapeau!'s crash replacement policy which will replace the garment if you have a spill and damage it. You can't say fairer than that.
On the whole the Café jersey is a classy bit of bike wear which looks pretty cool in each of the three colours, blue, white or striped.
Brilliant all weather jersey for those more sedate rides, but tauter pockets would be nice
road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau! Cafe Jersey
Size tested: Small
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?
Chapeau say, "In the golden age of the Campionissimi cycling jerseys were beautiful things, heavyweight wool, casual tailoring and limited, if any, sponsor logos. Coppi, Bartali and Anquetil looked like film stars with their sunglasses and brylcreemed hair and the sun always seemed to shine.
Sometimes we want to ride our bikes without worrying about being aero, going deep or – frankly – being seen in figure hugging lycra. Our answer is the Café Jersey, technical enough to be practical and stylish enough to be proud of off the bike and in public!"
The Cafe jersey is brilliant for the style of riding it is designed for although my only criticism is it could do with some more taut pockets.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nicely shaped for a relaxed fit jersey as it is cut to flatter.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed up clean every time even with sticking to the 30 degree recommendation.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As far as breathability and wicking is concerned you cannot knock the Cafe jersey at all.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How dry you remain on hot rides
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Cafe jersey certainly exceeded my expectations in terms of dealing with the summer heat plus the fit is an excellent balance of relaxed and fitted to flatter the body. It's a shame the pockets aren't a little more taut.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.