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Lightweight short-sleeved jerseys are the mainstay of summer cycling, but surely they are much of a muchness as far as performance goes? With the Francine jersey, Cote d'Azur cycling specialists Café du Cycliste have taken the concept of the summer jersey and, as well as loading it with technical details, they've injected it with a bit of French je ne sais quoi into the bargain. C'est merveilleux!
It's hard not to admire the attention to detail that Café du Cycliste put into designing their cycling garments. Right from the word go, they've been hitting a sweet spot with their Gallic flair. The Francine is no exception. Presented in the stripes that Café du Cycliste have become known for, the Francine is available in both white or red and pink.
Beyond the colours and stripes, the jersey also uses some rather striking fabrics as both a design and functional element. The trio of rear pockets are made from a bold stretch mesh fabric, with the central one also providing a water resistant lined zipped pocket and a cable port to facilitate use of a race radio/iPod.
The mesh fabric element continues up the centre of the back and under the arms, to give optimal ventilation at the body's hot spots. As a design element it's also picked up at the sleeves and collar.
Other features include hem gripper tape, reflective tabs at the rear and an anti-chafe full-length front zip. The main body fabric itself is a mid-weight super-soft and stretchy Italian polyester.
The cut of the Francine is described as 'race fit', but although it was sleek and snug with no bagginess to flap in the wind, it wasn't over tight and was true to size. The length of the body might not please taller women, but for my average height frame it was spot on.
Performance was excellent, with the incredibly soft and pleasant to wear fabric wicking moisture away quickly and effectively and drying out fast. The mesh panels definitely helped with ventilation on really hot days and overall comfort levels were good.
The rear mesh pockets were slightly on the small side, a common problem on women's jerseys, I find, and though the two outside pockets did stretch enough to accommodate a gilet or similar, they started to show signs of a more permanent overstretched bagginess quite quickly. The rear zipped pocket happily took an iPhone 5S but struggled with larger smartphones.
It's a gorgeous looking jersey that really delivers on its performance promises, but could just do with having the rear pockets tweaked a little to be more useful.
A magnifique summer jersey that looks good and performs well, let down slightly by the rear mesh pockets
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Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Francine Jersey
Size tested: Womans, Medium, White
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?
Aimed at riders demanding high performance for road cycling in spring and summer.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% Italian Polyester
Super Soft Midweight Fabric
Open Mesh Panels on Back & Under Arms
Moisture Management Properties
Full Zip with Guard
Open Mesh Pocket Backs
Three Cargo Pockets
Zipped Key Pocket
Audio Cable System
Made in Europe
Available in sizes XS-XL
Superb quality fabrics and extremely well put together.
Comfortable and the fabrics performed very well indeed.
The majority of the jersey wears very well but the rear mesh pockets quite quickly start to show signs of stretching.
Not as ultra-light as some summer jerseys but wicks moisture effectively and is super-soft next to skin so it's as light as it needs to be.
Extremely comfortable, both in terms of cut/fit and also in terms of the fabric and its performance.
Yes it's at the more expensive end of the jersey spectrum but it's made in Europe from superb quality fabrics plus it's innovative and stylish.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, cut, design elements of mesh fabrics, fabric quality and feel, performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly small rear pockets, mesh of rear pockets stretched quite easily.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
This jersey fuses good looks, innovative design and high quality fabrics. It's also made in Europe. There's a premium to be paid, but in my opinion it's worth it.
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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.