With a loose fit and breathable fabric, the Rapha Technical T-Shirt is a good choice for long rides, touring, gravel and adventure exploits, bikepacking and even commuting.
Rapha launched the Technical T-Shirt as part of its new Explore range, which includes the Cargo bib shorts with pockets. It's clothing aimed at touring, long distance and gravel riding.
For this style of riding it is common to put all your essentials, tools and food in bags attached to the bike (or to use the pockets in the Cargo bib shorts). With no need for conventional jersey pockets, you're free to wear a more relaxed fitting top. Which is what the Technical T-Shirt is.
If you've tried riding off-road with jersey pockets stuffed with tools and food, you might have found the contents can make a bid for freedom on bumpy descents. It's why mountain bikers moved away from roadie cycling jerseys many years ago, and why frame, handlebar and saddle packs are so popular for touring and adventure riding.
The Rapha Technical T-Shirt is made from 100% polyester and the fabric is very thin and lightweight. Micro-mesh boosts airflow and it feels very light and airy when riding in hot weather, helping to keep you cool. There's an antibacterial coating, good for multi-day rides.
The hems are bonded and if you need to increase your visibility when riding on the road the sleeves can be turned up to reveal reflective pink stripes.
I've been doing plenty of gravel bike testing recently, and with all my essentials strapped to the bike I've found the Technical T-Shirt an ideal choice. The cut and fit are good, and it's comfortable when riding along in the tops or in the hoods, with plenty of space to move around in. If you do any mountain biking, it's ideal for that too and pairs really nicely with baggy shorts.
The material is very breathable and copes with high temperatures well; it's fast-drying too, if you do generate a lot of sweat on sustained climbs. Even worn next to the skin without a baselayer it's soft and free of irritation.
The understated look means you can use it for commuting as you won't look out of place wearing it around the office, and if you're adventure riding or touring, you can pair it with baggy overshorts (like Sportful's Giara Over Shorts) and you won't look out of place in a coffee shop or cafe.
I doubt everyone will get the Rapha Technical T-Shirt, but I really like it for riding when I'm less interested in pace and speed and more in exploring and going the distance.
Versatile, loose fitting and breathable, ideal for long rides, adventuring, commuting and mountain biking
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Technical T-Shirt
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, "The Technical T-Shirt was designed to change the way we think about dressing to ride. Using the same feathery light micro-mesh fabric as our Flyweight Jersey, it is the perfect loose-fitting top for exploring, whether that be city streets or mountain peaks.
"A gradient knit structure not only wicks sweat away from the skin but also disperses the moisture over a greater area, creating a incredibly fast-drying shirt. The textured fabric combined with a loose fit helps the t-shirt stand off a rider's skin for improved heat convection and airflow, allowing you to stay cool and look good in hot conditions. Turn-up sleeves reveal reflective strips hidden in the hem, which combine with a reflective logo on the chest for a stand-out yet stylish look. Paired with the Cargo bib shorts, the Technical T-Shirt offers a whole new option for long days in the saddle but is equally at home off the bike."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Featherlight fabric for hot weather
Wicking and micro-mesh to encourage airflow
Bonded hem and integrated neck hanging loop
Concealable high vis signal cuff in sleeve hem
Reversible reflective cuffs
Reflective logo and back tab
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, goes in a normal wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Light and breathable with a comfortable feel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Relaxed fit and breathable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much to dislike for its intended purpose.
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 overall score
All the technical sweat-wicking performance of a normal cycling jersey in a looser more relaxed fit; it's a good, versatile top for those occasions when you don't want or need a tight-fitting jersey.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.