Building on Rapha's slow but steady introduction of female specific garments into their range, the Merino Jersey marks the company's first attempt at urban cycling gear for women. Designed to be a casual jersey with performance inherently built in, it is aimed at a huge spectrum of riders, from serious riders for down time use through to recreational and café riders. And of course, WAGs of established male Rapha addicts everywhere!
The first thing you notice about the Merino Jersey is just how soft the 100% merino fabric is. It's seriously high quality merino, that's for sure, with a very fine fibre. The cut and fit are intended to be casual and relaxed, and there's a classic four button neckline to give a polo shirt-esque feel. Perforations are included in the form of a different knit at the sides to add to riding comfort with extra ventilation, and you get a simple button down pocket at the rear for your necessaries.
It was an incredibly comfortable top to wear, with the softness and temperature maintenance qualities that go along with good merino. It wicked moisture well enough for me to not feel sweaty, whilst keeping me at a steady temperature even in changeable conditions. That said, the fabric is not the lightest weave of merino, and as such was slightly on the warm side, although would be fine for spring and autumn use and low speed cruising in high temperatures. Being quite so soft (and expensive), I also feared for its safety as far as pulling and plucking went The neckline is nice in concept, but tended to stay shut even when unbuttoned, meaning less ventilation at the neck. At speed it did flap open, but didn't really stay that way. This also meant the top looked a bit odd off the bike, as it stayed shut with quite a high neckline. Still, it's a good looking top and can happily be worn with jeans or capris on or off the bike. The fit is casually loose rather than performance neat. One other tiny niggle was the pocket. I understand the thinking behind the button fastening, but I was decidedly hesitant about putting anything valuable or important into it. Even if it had one more button in the middle of the flap I'd have been happier that my keys or phone weren't going to end up hitting the deck at a junction somewhere.
£125 is a lot of money for a merino top, especially when there are a few companies, such as Icebreaker and Vulpine offering similar high quality garments for a lot less, but it DOES have that Rapha kudos (albeit without the logo- subtly going for just the iconic cream sleeve band) and it IS incredibly high quality merino that will last and last if you treat it right, so ultimately, it's down to personal preference. I think personally I'd find it hard to justify paying £125 with the slight niggles I had.
A great looking top, made from fabulously soft merino wool, but definitely on the expensive side. A more secure pocket and a subtly different neckline would have been nice too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Merino Jersey
Size tested: Medium grey
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?
Made for women for city riding. For on and off the bike wear.
Merino is always ideal for urban duties.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% merino wool
Four button collar
2 button rear pocket
Knitted ventilation panels at sides
Machine washable at 30
Available in sizes XXS-XL
Some of the softest merino (think cashmere softness) I've ever encountered and really well made.
Maintained a steady temperature and was comfortable to wear.
If cared for correctly, merino should last for years, with no odour problems due to its natural anti-microbial qualities. This fabric is so incredibly soft though that it could be prone to snagging from velcro etc.
Very comfortable, both in fit and fabric. And also in body temperature when using.
Just too expensive for what it is when other similar high quality products are available at a cheaper price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well, although I'd have liked it to have a different type of neckline for real on/off bike potential.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fabric, side ventilation knit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Neckline, more secure back pocket would have been good, price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly if it were in the sale.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Comfortable to wear, and oh so soft, but it's too expensive and the neckline could have been both more stylish and practical.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.