Home, ride, work, ride, meeting, ride, work, ride, home, ride pub, wobbly ride, home. When riding is an integral part of everyday life then what you wear needs to adapt to suit this. The good news is that looking good off the bike and performance on it don't need to be mutually exclusive. The Rapha Cutter's Shirt is a sharp-looking slim-fit shirt that comes with a handful of natty cycling twists.
Rapha calls the cut of the shirt 'semi-tailored'. No, this doesn't mean that a tailor got bored halfway through their job, it's more a nod towards it being slim fitting but not a fully tailored cut, allowing for some extra room when you're on the bike. The sleeves are a decent length and keep your wrists nicely covered when you're reaching forward for the bar, and the tail is dropped just enough to keep your lower back out of sight. The 'French-style' collar gives you the option of combining it with a tie if you're looking to impress your boss/mother-in-law/judge, delete as appropriate.
The material is a cotton blend with a dash of elastane thrown into the mix to give it that bit of extra stretch that's essential when you're in the saddle. It's pretty lightweight and dries out really quickly if you're caught in a sudden rain shower or get slightly sweaty on dashes across town.
Other cycling details on offer are subtle but useful. The placket (top section of the buttons) is covered with a flap of material and the shoulder seams are carefully positioned on the front and back of the shoulder rather than along the ridge. This allows you to comfortably wear a messenger bag without it dragging or catching on the buttons (a common problem) and digging the seams into your shoulders, a neat detail.
Both cuffs are piped with reflective trim, but it's such a small nod towards some kind of low light visibility that it seems a bit half-hearted. A bit more of this would have been useful, and elsewhere on the shirt too, otherwise why bother?
Many of Rapha's products come with a story behind them and the Cutter's Shirt is no exception. The version we reviewed featured the cutter's print that gives the shirt its name. It was inspired by the Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux, a crit across Paris contested by the city's newspaper couriers at the turn of the century. The competitors had to deliver bundles of newspapers across town and the triangular motif represents the corners of the newspapers that they snipped off to fit these bundles tight against their bars. So you're essentially getting a free pub anecdote with this shirt, but if you're not of the Jackanory ilk you can opt for the grey or light blue chambray options that are also available.
Standard shirts can often be restricting to ride in, with seams in the wrong places and the combination of cut and materials hampering movement, especially across the shoulders. The Cutter's Shirt has none of these issues and is a joy to ride in. The extra stretch in the fabric allows it to move with your body as you pedal, and the covered buttons and tactically placed seams make it easy to use with a messenger bag slung across your body. The material does dry really quickly and means you can arrive at your destination without having to worry about looking too dishevelled for the rest of the day.
Off the bike it's basically just a smart looking shirt, and that's exactly what it should be. Nothing about it says 'cycling' and it seamlessly becomes something to wear to the office or the pub. In fact it's a piece of clothing that can be worn regardless of whether a bike is going to be involved in your day or not.
At £95 it's pricey, but you knew that when you saw the name of the product. Rapha kit comes with a reputation not just for cost but for quality, and the Cutter's Shirt certainly meets that mark. If you're in the market for a good looking, impressively performing shirt then this should definitely be up there in your list of prospective candidates. Get in quick, though: stocks are running low unless you're quite small or quite large.
Good looking, well fitting shirt with some subtle cycling features that performs impressively on and off the bike
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Make and model: Rapha Cutter's Shirt
Size tested: Medium, Blue
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?
The Cutter's Shirt is a sharp looking shirt for the 'man about town'.
Rapha says: "Semi-tailored, cotton-blend technical cycling shirt. The most recent incarnation of Rapha's shirting uses a fine cotton-blend performance fabric with a semi-tailored cut, resulting in a high-quality and slim-fitting shirt with a modern silhouette."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Available in Cutter's print and chambray fabrics
- High-stretch, quick-drying fabric
- Covered placket
- French-style collar
- Reflective piping at cuff
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The shirt performs impressively on the bike – everything it claims to do it does well. Off the bike it's smart looking and suitable for everyday life without looking too 'cycling'.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The covered placket and tactically placed shoulder seams are great when you're using a courier bag, meaning you're comfortable and can sling it on and off your shoulder without catching your buttons.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The reflective piping on the sleeve is a vague nod towards some visibility but it could either do with making them a bit larger or doing away with them altogether.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Cutter's Shirt does everything it claims to do to a decent level. It performs impressively on and off the bike and has some nice subtle features, though the reflective piping seems like a bit of an afterthought. It's certainly better than 'Above Average', but lacks the killer blow to take it any higher than a 'Good'.
Age: 29 Height: 5'10" Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed
Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the graphic design and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike everyday whatever the weather, he's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 6 years now. Likes: cold toast, gin, rugby. Dislikes: fitting mudguards.