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Primal's Rhapsody hoodie isn't the kind of thing you're going to be wearing on your next sportive but it's a surprisingly versatile bit of kit that's comfy and has a fantastic fit.
Effectively the Rhapsody is a casual hoodie that the Primal team have technicaled (is that a word?) up a bit. Mainly they've addressed the fabric and the fit, with a couple of other subtle nods to active wear.
The hoodie is mostly made of a two-layer fabric: on the outside it's a close-weave polyester/cotton mix but that's bonded to a synthetic mesh inner layer not dissimilar to a thin jersey fabric. The idea is that the hoodie looks casual on the outside, but the inner layer breathes and wicks sweat away if you do start to work a bit harder.
It works, too. Okay, it's not as good as a dedicated cycling outer layer, but it's a lot better than a normal casual top. Obviously if you're wearing a cotton tee underneath it and you throw yourself at some hills, you'll end up pretty damp, so if you are planning any more strenuous activity you need to think about your layering. It works best with something like a long-sleeved merino top underneath, although it's also fine against the skin.
The fabric isn't especially windproof and it's not that heavy either, so it's not ideal as an outer layer on cold days, but it works well as a mid-layer.
So the fabric is good, and the other thing that's good is the fit. It's quite a stretchy fabric across the weave and the body is cut nice and tight to make it snug. The sleeves are cut long for good coverage in a riding position and they have a nice long, tight cuff to keep them down over your wrists. The neck is cut nice and snug too, and an elasticated waistband keeps you fairly well covered at all times; there's no ride-specific dropped rear but that would look weird anyway.
The only proviso is that for all that great fit, it does size up on the large side. I'm wearing a medium when I'd normally expect to be a large, and I find that just right for a mix of riding and lounging. A large would be more of a casual fit.
There are a couple of other nods to sporty practicality: reflective stripes on the hood and also a flash on the left arm; they're pretty subtle but could come in handy after dark. There's also a zippered arm pocket to complement the two open pockets in the front of the hoodie. It's not big enough for a phone, but you could keep your keys or money in there.
Care-wise it's just a machine wash at 30°C and it's been through the wash a number of times now. There's a little bit of bobbling on the surface of the fabric now but it still looks good.
Overall, this is a useful crossover top that's neutral enough for casual wear but also technical enough to ride in. I've worn it a lot over the past few months and I've found the mix of casual looks and technical features really good.
A useful casual/technical top that's smart enough for the pub and sporty enough for the bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Maison Grey Rhapsody Hoodie
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?
The Primal Zip Hoodie takes all the best features of the casual wear staple and adds a few performance features. The soft Melange outer fabric looks and feels great while the sublimated mesh liner allows the garment to breathe and wick sweat away. The reflective accents on the arm and hood provide additional safety features for the commuter. The fit features longer lengths on the body and arms for use on and off the bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gravity Mélange Fabric
Full Length Exposed YKK Zipper
Front Hand Pockets
Stowaway Bicep Zip Pocket
Detachable Leather Sleeve Detail
Considering the fit, it sizes up on the large side.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's washed pretty well, the fabric has started to bobble a little bit but it still looks pretty good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy, great fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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
Overall it's a very good casual top with enough technicality for shorter rides.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.