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Rapha reviews usually follow a set pattern. Yes, it's very nice. Yes, it's very expensive. This review of their Merino Crew Neck jersey isn't going to buck that trend. Hey, if it's not broke, don't fix it...
The crew neck jersey is made from a slightly heavier grade of merino than Rapha's standard base layer and a little more expensive. As we all know, merino is about as good as wool gets, with no itchiness and miraculous powers that keep you warm when it's wet and free of whiffy smells when the going gets tough.
In the name of research and because I liked it so much, I wore the top for more than a week of commuting before washing it. Although the end result wasn't exactly daisy fresh, it certainly wouldn't frighten off anyone wanting to invade my personal space. Which is good, because once I put it on, I didn't want to take it off. The wool is amazingly soft and the cut is comfortable without being saggy or too tight. I wore it under a normal short sleeve jersey and that was warm enough for some cool late autumn commutes. Once the weather turns nippy it'll be easy enough to work it into a slightly warmer layering system.
The style is subtle and the only hint that it's Rapha is on the, sensibly placed, inside labels. It certainly doesn't scream 'HELLO I'M JOLLY EXPENSIVE!' which suits me nicely.
There are other, cheaper, merino base layers out there but for sheer quality and that inimitable Rapha-ness, this is well worth considering.
Comfortable, practical and very, very nice.
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Make and model: Rapha Merino Crew Neck
Size tested: L
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?
It's a long sleeved base layer for colder days. The well heeled Rapharatti will love it but anyone else in the market for a quality base layer will be interested.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's pure merino wool with flatlocked seams.
Nicely made with no annoying neck labels to spoil the itch free loveliness.
Not the warmest base layer, but warm enough and very easy to wear under pretty much anything.
Wool needs more care and attention than other materials, but properly cared for it should last years. In the interests of scientific enquiry and because I know how most chaps do their washing I bunged it in at 40 with regular non-bio detergent. Happily it came out just fine, so you can afford the odd deviation from the instructions.
Like a second skin.
It's Rapha innit? Not as jaw droppingly silly as the price of some of their other stuff though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The feel and the sheer practicality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Well, it is a tad expensive.
Did you enjoy using the product? Oh yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
My new favourite base layer.
Age: 40 Height: 5\' 8 Weight: er....86kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,