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Verdict: 
Performance baselayer with top fit and comfort
Weight: 
71g
Contact: 

As part of Rapha's long distance and high visibility collection, the new Brevet Base Layer is a really comfortable, odour-free and well fitting, so ideal for longer rides and any bikepacking adventures you might have planned, but it's just as good for daily commuting and training rides. And it's even got stripes so it looks good too!

  • Pros: Fit, comfort, doesn't smell, looks good
  • Cons: There are cheaper

It's the company's first baselayer to be made from a fabric with a permanent antibacterial finish. The fabric uses a silver coated ion yarn which prevents the growth of bacteria so quite simply, you can wear it for multiple days without any odour.

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Anyone who wore early generation synthetic baselayers will remember how much they used to pong after just one ride. Thankfully, they've got much better since, but it's partly why merino wool baselayers have proved so popular over the last 20 years, because they can be worn multiple times without smelling bad.

Rapha says it tested the new baselayer by having people wear it every day for two weeks during an unsupported event in 2016 (probably the TCR but it doesn't say as much). To test the baselayer... I didn't wear it for two weeks in an unsupported race. But I have been wearing it for multiple days and rides, from the commute into the office to lunchtime rides, and seeing how long I could get away without washing it before it started smelling.

 

Six rides in, and no smell. Not a hint of an unpleasant aroma. So clearly the fabric does its job of preventing the build-up of odour and bad smells. And when it is time for the wash, it goes through a regular cycle at 30 degrees and washes just fine with other cycle clothing. It's super-quick drying as well so it's ready very soon for the next ride, ideal whether you're commuting or touring. Sorry, bikepacking.

Worn underneath short and long-sleeve jerseys in a range of temperature from 6 to 16°C, it does a good job of keeping your body temperature nicely regulated, with good breathability on warmer days. It manages sweat too; I remained impressively dry during one ride when I got my outfit all wrong and got a bit hot and sweaty! If you do get too hot, Rapha says you can wear it without a jersey, but exposed bib straps are not a good look in my book.

Buyer's Guide: 15 of the best cycling baselayers

In this dark green I think it's a smart looking top, with white and pink stripes on the side panels, which don't serve any purpose other than to tie in visually with the rest of the Brevet range. There are also black and teal colour options available.

Comfort is really good: the fabric is soft next to the skin and there are flatlock seams throughout. The fit is close, as you can see in the photos (that's a size small for reference), with a figure-hugging shape that ensures the stretchy fabric sits against the skin so it can do its job effectively. The body is a good length for tucking into your bib shorts or tights.

So it's a really nice baselayer that does what you'd hope: keeping you dry, not building up odour and helping you regulate your temperature. It looks good too, which isn't something you can always say about a baselayer. What it's not is cheap, although it's less than the £80 Metier Element Race Layer. But the likes of Pearl Izumi, dhb and even Castelli will sell you a decent baselayer for a lot less.

Verdict

Performance baselayer with top fit and comfort

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Brevet baselayer

Size tested: Small

 

 

 

Tell us what the product is for

Rapha says, "Our first base layer to feature a fabric with a permanent antibacterial finish, the Brevet Base Layer is designed specifically for the rigours of long-distance riding. Constructed with silver coated ion yarn, the fabric inhibits the growth of bacteria to keep you fresh and odour free, day after day. With prototypes worn every day for two weeks at an unsupported, ultra-distance race through Europe in 2016, this base layer is proven to keep going as long as you do.

"Featuring signature brevet stripes, the base layer is designed to be worn with or without a jersey and provides comfort in a wide range of temperatures. Sweat-wicking properties keep you cool on the bike whilst the quick-drying fabric makes it easy to wash and dry, ready for tomorrow's ride. This base layer is an all-round addition that is most at home when you're not."

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

Rapha lists:

Silver coated ion yarn fabric for permanent super-antibacterial finish

Odour resistant

Fast drying

Flatlock seams on main body

Classic collar tab with logo

82% polyester

18% elastane

Rate the product for quality of construction: 8/10
Flatlock stitching throughout and it's well made to usual Rapha standards.

Rate the product for performance: 8/10
Good performance in a range of temperatures and ride demands, keeps you dry of sweat and doesn't smell bad.

Rate the product for durability: 7/10

So far it's stood up to repeated wear just fine, no broken stitches.

Rate the product for fit: 8/10 The well-shaped panels and stretchy material provide a comfortably close fit.

Rate the product for sizing: 7/10

A wide range of sizes offered and the small I tested fitted as expected.

Rate the product for weight: 7/10

Rate the product for comfort: 9/10

Very comfortable baselayer, no irritation at all.

Rate the product for value: 6/10

You can get baselayers a lot cheaper than the Rapha, and modern textile fabrics mean even cheap baselayers these days provide very good performance.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed? Goes through a regular wash just fine.

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

Keeps on mopping up sweat without breaking out into a bad smell.</p>

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit, comfort and it even looks good. I'm a sucker for stripes.<

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Tall price.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's less than the £80 Metier Element Race Layer, but Pearl Izumi, dhb and Castelli offer decent baselayers for £20-£35.

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

Not all baselayers are as comfortable and well fitting as this Rapha one, and okay not all are as expensive either, but some are.

Overall rating: 8

About the tester

Age: 31 Height: 180cm; Weight: 67kg

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</p>
 

 

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

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.

5 comments

Avatar
Freddy56 [446 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I cannot comprehend the management where a business that sell this product direct, with no distribution/retail margins to be leaked off, sells a £60 tee shirt...loses £20MILLION in a few months.

Avatar
Stueys [36 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Freddy56 wrote:

I cannot comprehend the management where a business that sell this product direct, with no distribution/retail margins to be leaked off, sells a £60 tee shirt...loses £20MILLION in a few months.

Its easy to work out - Rapha spent a lot of money expanding their clubhouse locations and product ranges.  Both of which meant lots of spend and more distressed inventory that  didn’t get sold at normal margins.  Problem compounded by some of the new clubhouses haven’t delivered the incremental revenue and are now in the process of being closed.  Costs money to grow.

Avatar
don simon fbpe [2997 posts] 11 months ago
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Just had to look up Rapha Clubhouse, turns out it's a shop/workshop (with a cafe and TVs). Turns out I've visited one.

Brave, and expensive, move introducing a single brand, cycling apparel bricks and mortar shop in city centres.

I like the concept of bike shop with TVs and cafe, not sure Rapha is the place to start.

Avatar
Chris Hayes [467 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
Freddy56 wrote:

I cannot comprehend the management where a business that sell this product direct, with no distribution/retail margins to be leaked off, sells a £60 tee shirt...loses £20MILLION in a few months.

...that would be limited sales and high costs  1  Seems the difficulty with some of these brands is determining their elastic limit (no pun).  They generally start offering a specialised, bespoke product (merino jerseys and shorts) in Rapha's case - that were excellent: the branding was cool and the product was exclusive, expensive, but justifiably so - just about.  

Then their product range expands; tights, hats, gloves, etc. Still successful.... But then they start selling apparel to expand 'the brand' beyond your cycling clothes bin to your bathroom and wardrobe (and coffee machine at £14 a bag!).  But these are crowded spaces also filled with excellent products made by specilaists which have honed their game.  And high production costs, lower margins and lower sales start to hit profits (which is where we are now).    Trouble is for Rapha is that in order to expand their range (downmarket), they've had to devalue their brand and - in my view, offer some sub-optimal products.  This irritates the core market which then goes elsewhere...looking for something niche, cool, etc.  that no-one else has. 

An obvious comparison in cycling terms is Assos - a brand which doesn't offer jeans, shirts and sweatshirts, but concentrate on a selling their excellent product to those cyclists that can afford it or are prepared to save up and invest.... 

Avatar
Nick T [1360 posts] 11 months ago
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Sounds like a bit of creative accounting occurred before the sale, with a load of “assets” now written off