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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!
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.
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.
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.
Performance baselayer with top fit and comfort
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?
Silver coated ion yarn fabric for permanent super-antibacterial finish
Flatlock seams on main body
Classic collar tab with logo
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
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?
Would you consider buying the product?
Would you recommend the product to a friend?
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>
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David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.