New fave jersey alert! Here, ladies and gents, we have a lovely specimen, a retro-styled road jersey from new-this-year French company Café du Cycliste.
The brand started life in an actual caf, holed up in the hills - proto-Alps more like - behind Cannes. Now, it's based in Nice, where the philosophy remains the same: creating elegant and retro, yet roadworthy clothing.
The Henriette is from the company's 'Sur le bitume' (On the Tarmac) range, which is designed for performance rather than town riding. Not that you'd know it. The technical features - of which there are a few - are hidden behind the jersey's casual looks. Personally, I think the styling is spot on, and, while it's not going to endear you to the tech-heads out there, that's not really why you'd buy it, is it? The company logo, embroidered on the sleeve, and on a reflective panel on the back - a lady on a bike, drinking - is a cheeky, '60s Bardot-esque touch.
Most noticeable, once you take the Henriette out of the gingham-cloth sleeve it's delivered in (a nice detail - and the print's repeated on the inside collar hem), is the material. Although it's made from 100% polyester, like the majority of cycling jerseys, it immediately stands out. Café du Cycliste says it worked with an Italian fabric maker to create this exclusive 'piqu' fabric, which gives a pleasing textured appearance and the rough/soft feel - think '80s tennis shirt. It really is different, and what's more, it doesn't have the heft of an old polo shirt. It's much lighter and thinner as befits a piece of cycling kit. The main body is complemented by ribbed cuffs on the sleeves, again more like a tennis shirt than a cycling jersey, and by a beautifully soft, high collar. This is more roomy and loose than a classic cycling collar, and it looks good zipped up, or unzipped and hanging down, giving something of a polo shirt look.
On the bike it's clear a lot of thought has been put in to the design. The Henriette fits to size - not too large or small - and is a close but not 'race' fit. The three rear pockets are medium sized, and securely hold everything you need. Reflective strips between them are a practical touch, and the additional zipped valuables pocket seems larger and wider than some, giving a lot of stow space for wallets, keys and phones. All the zips have lock-down pullers.
The piqu material means the Henriette is well ventilated and, to my nose, it performs pretty well in the stinky-jersey jersey stakes (which a lot of polyester tends to fall down on). It's not a cold-weather piece of kit, and the loose collar probably won't keep you as warm as a tight collar, but it's served me well with arm-warmers and a gilet during cool starts.
Having ridden this extensively through town, and over several hundred kilometres out on the road, I have nothing but good things to say about it. I wore it on a 110km ride, then went straight to meet friends for lunch, and it was equally good in each situation.
New fave jersey. Looks and feels lovely. Works well on the bike for long rides but - genuinely - it's something you'd feel happy wearing in any non-bike situation.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Henriette Short Sleeve 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?
Says the website:
"Sur le Bitume performance wear is tailored for the road but stays away from the traditional outmoded cycling style. The fabric selection and care for details won't leave any space for compromises on function. Garments are designed with high standard that reflects the toughness of road cycling.
"Henriette's fabric has been especially developed and manufactured in Italy for Café du Cycliste. This special development was aimed at giving a striped, piqu and vintage aspect to a light breathable and technical fibre.
With Henriette's perfectly adjusted cut, you will feel comfortable and elegant while riding. Don't judge a book by its cover... despite its retro look, Henriette is perfectly modern and technical with its reflecting elements, 3 back pockets, zipped key pocket, Ipod pocket and pump pocket."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Again, the site says:
- 100% polyester
- Half zip
- Zipped key pocket
- Pump pocket
- Ipod cable hole
- 3 back pockets
- Reflective logo and elements on back
- Embroidered Logo on front and sleeve
I was surprised that something so 'casual' worked so well putting miles in on the bike.
Nothing more to say than it seems well made, and all the stitching seems robust. Washes well. Thanks to the retro 'polo jersey' feel, it seems less likely the fabric's finish will pick or mark - but that's just an impression.
It's not super-light.
Beautiful. Unusual fabric finish works well, nice soft collars and cuffs.
It seems to be up there towards the high/mid-range of jersey prices, especially with our pitiful exchange rate with the Euro. Café du Cycliste's Merino-mix jerseys are only €10 more expensive, but this is a lovely piece of kit, with an attention to detail and features that aren't cheap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well both on and off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit, the styling, the material.
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
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack. My best bike is:
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,