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Rapha Women's Winter Jersey



Beautifully designed winter-weight jersey, though you'll need extra layers for really blowy days

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Rapha's Women's Winter Jersey is a lovely garment to pull on when there's a chill in the air, with noticeably thicker fabric than the original Classic, but on really cold days you'll still need an extra layer above or below – there's no windproofing to the front like you get with the men's. You'll need to get in quick to buy one though (currently at a discounted price of £80), and only if you're an M or XL...

Other than the fabric, it's very similar in style and design to the Classic Long Sleeve Jersey that Lara tested a couple of years ago. Both it and the Short Sleeve, reviewed in 2010, were made with Sportwool, in a 52/48% (LS) and 40/60% (SS) merino/polyester mix, but the Winter Jersey ups the cold comfort levels with a fleecy inner to its 'heavy duty' Sportwool in a 25/71% merino/polyester blend (and 4% elastane), and it's noticeably warmer.

> Buy this online here

The jersey's Roubaix-like inner means it's very soft and comfortable against the skin, though you're quite likely to be wearing it over a baselayer. It fits to your contours without being overly clingy, and wearing layers underneath isn't a problem. It's not bulky either, so you can pull on a windproof over the top without it feeling restrictive in any way. (In Rapha's research, it found women prefer the versatility of a gilet rather than extra windproofing, and it does mean you won't overheat on warmer days.)

Rapha Women's Winter Jersey.jpg

The sleeves are a generous length – on the long side when you're off the bike, with slanted cuffs that keep your wrists covered while riding. I'd go longer rather than shorter any day, but especially on cold ones. The cuffs aren't ribbed but they do fit quite tightly, and do a good job of keeping out draughts as well as slipping under gloves easily.

The overall cut is virtually identical to the Classic – kind of classic, really: longer at the back, held in place by a thin strip of silicone gripper (and a drawstring if you need to tighten it), and not too short at the front. It works and feels great, on and off the bike.

Rapha Women's Winter Jersey - drawstring.jpg

Other details? The YKK zip has a baffle behind and a garage at the top to protect your neck, but the zip tab is quite small and can be difficult to get hold of in full winter gloves.

Rapha Women's Winter Jersey - collar.jpg

There are the usual three pockets in a row on the back, plus a zipped one for valuables on one side. The outer two pockets are cut straight across rather than slanted, like the Classic, but they're still easy to access. They're a little deeper because the tops aren't angled, so a bit more secure too.

Rapha Women's Winter Jersey - side pocket.jpg

Unlike the Classic, there's no strip of reflective below one pocket – instead, the signature Rapha arm band does that job, reflecting brightly in headlights. In fact, the whole of the jersey has quite a sheen to it; it's not too disco, but it definitely has a shimmer, which you might or might not like... (The 'blue' is also a very purply-blue... though there is raspberry too.)

Rapha Women's Winter Jersey - arm band.jpg

Unlike the Classic jerseys, there's no eyelet cut in any pocket for cables – headphone wearers beware. But unlike the Classic Jerseys, it does have a handy hanging loop.

> For more warm winter cycling wear, check out our guide here

It's all beautifully made (in Lithuania), with mostly flatlock stitching, and nothing to suggest anything's going to go wrong. And as with any Rapha product, if it does get damaged or fails outside of the warranty period, it can be returned for free repairs.

And that just leaves price... Rapha products don't come cheap, but they are very good quality. If you object to paying this kind of money for a cycling top, don't. If you're happy to accept that high quality garments tend to come with higher prices, it's not bad value. And at the time of writing the Winter Jersey is discounted to £80.


Beautifully designed winter-weight jersey, though you'll need extra layers for really blowy days test report

Make and model: Rapha Women's Winter Jersey

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?

Rapha says: "Designed for cold to freezing riding conditions from a heavy-duty, soft brushed back Sportwool™.

"Designed for riding adventures in cold conditions, the Women's Winter Jersey offers a brilliant balance of insulation and breathability.

"This jersey is ideal on top of a base layer for off-season training rides, or with a windproof shell for tough winter cycling. Made from a brushed-back Sportwool™, a breathable and insulating merino blend, it functions well in a wide range of temperatures, while remaining odour-free.

"The full-length zip helps regulate body temperature and a zip guard prevents chafing. The jersey has three main cargo pockets and a discreet zipped pocket to keep valuables secure."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?


Brushed back Sportwool™

Reflective armstripe

Valuables pocket with concealed zip

Vislon® zips


71% polyester

25% wool

4% elastane

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Vey well made.

Rate the product for performance:

Very good. It's not windproof though – on really cold, blowy days you'll want a gilet or windproof. Or arm warmers under the sleeves.

Rate the product for durability:

No reason to suspect it won't stand the test of time.

Rate the product for fit:

Fits well, if not as stretchy as some tops, probably due to the thicker nature of the fabric.

Rate the product for sizing:

Spot on. (The photos make it look tighter fitting than it is, believe me.)

Rate the product for weight:

Looks heavier than it is...

Rate the product for comfort:

Very comfortable and cosy.

Rate the product for value:

Rapha products don't come cheap, but they're well made and well designed. High quality products tend to demand high prices.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?


Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well – noticeably warmer than the original Classic Long Sleeve.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The warmth.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not so keen on the shiny sheen.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Beautifully designed, well made, warm – it's very good.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 169cm  Weight: size 10-12

I usually ride: Vitus Venon  My best bike is: Paulus Quiros

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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding

Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.

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mike the bike | 8 years ago

I recognise that purposeful gaze, those fluttering eyelashes; it's 'er from Cycling Plus.  Have they kidnapped you my dear, or did they tempt you with obscene amounts of money and an unlimited expense account? 

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