The Swift jersey from Rapha is a crossover between the urban/messenger range and their road race oriented garments; available only in black, the design incorporates a matt black panel sewn onto the chest, along with a multitude of swifts in flight in black velvet swooping across the jersey, which give rise to the jersey’s name.
Rapha’s trademark story label hidden inside a pocket details the phenomenon that inspired the jersey; during each summer, vast flocks of swifts dominate the skies of Portland, Oregon (a prominent US cycling city), swirling upwards into the sky before descending in sweeping arcs. It also chronicles an epic ride by Ira Ryan; frame-builder and member of the Rapha Continental riders.
In common with the majority of their jerseys, the Swift is made in Sportwool; a blend of merino wool and polyester, which combines the sweat wicking and odour suppression of merino and the hardwearing stretch of polyester.
As we have come to expect from Rapha, the Swift jersey is a beautifully tailored garment utilising inset side panels to achieve a close fit whilst not being too tight. The rear is cut longer for a cycle specific fit, with a silicon band in the hem to keep the bottom of the jersey in place when riding.
Also out back there is the usual three pocket setup, but of a much more simple design than Rapha’s more performance oriented jerseys, and as such forgoes those jerseys’ trademark mini-pump sleeve, zipped waterproof valuables pocket and iPod cable routing in favour of three deep, uncomplicated pockets. These are deep enough to hold all your usual ride essentials, and the binding at the pocket openings prevents them sagging when loaded. The inclusion of a reflective tab sewn into the rear of the jersey is a useful addition.
The neck and arms are finished with a rib knit collar and sleeve cuffs, complete with a ¼ length ykk zip, which combine to give the jersey a classic look. However, the omission of the flap of material at the top of the zipper that is present on most other Rapha jerseys did mean that it rubbed my neck when fully zipped on the bike.
The Swift performs very well as a cycling jersey, but the quality tailoring combined with an understated and classy design means it also looks good off the bike, whether in the coffee shop post ride, or with a pair of jeans sans bike.
The price tag is very high for a jersey that is a little compromised as a pure cycling jersey, especially when compared with their excellent Classic Jersey, but will appeal to the urban cyclist who wants performance and style both on and off the bike.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Swift jersey
Size tested: M
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?
Ultimately this jersey is pitched at the ever growing, and no doubt lucrative, American Rapha-buying market, embodied by the Rapha Continental Rides that seem to dominate the company’s website nowadays, but it still manages to look at home in the UK on a Sunday morning group ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sportwool™ is a laminated fabric, combining a layer of ultra fine merino wool on the inside face of the fabric where it contacts the skin; bound to this is a layer of polyester which forms the outer face of the fabric. This gives the benefits of comfort, odour elimination and moisture management of merino wool, combined with the elasticity and resilience of the polyester layer.
Made to the usual Rapha high standards, with quality materials and workmanship.
The omission of the mini-pump sleeve and neck zip guard are the only compromise to function over Rapha's more ride specific jerseys.
A well made garment that has washed well and shows no signs of wear and tear after many rides and lots of off the bike use.
The zipper tended to rub my neck when fully up, but that aside the fit of the jersey and the feel of the fabric were excellent.
This is a difficult one to quantify, it is a limited edition jersey that combines style with function, this has a value to a certain group of customers, but the price is still very high.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Swift jersey works very well both on and off the bike, combining the benefits of a quality cycle jersey with a stylish casual top.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The subtle yet striking design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The neck zipper tended to rub.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Litespeed Icon My best bike is: as above
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: road racing, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Track Cycling