The Rapha Women's Long Sleeve Merino Jersey is, strangely, an awful lot like the short sleeved merino jersey from Rapha that we reviewed last year, but, erm, with long sleeves. This is a jersey designed to bridge the gap between performance cycling wear and casual kit.
The first two things you notice about this top are how good it looks and how very good it feels. Unusually for Rapha, the price is on a par with most merino wool tops of a similar quality (an Icebreaker Tempest, for example) and is actually much higher quality and softer than most. You can get cheaper merino jerseys, but to make them cheaper they have to made from cheaper, scratchier wool.
That makes Rapha's merino jersey genuinely good value for those with a love of the fabric's wonderful woolly warmth. The merino used in this top is super soft and super smooth, with none of the itchy side effects that many associate with wool.
As a result of this softness, there is a risk of snagging, making Velcro its worst enemy and requiring careful selection of coats and bags. It stretches gently and gives a contoured fit without being over snug, and the body and sleeve length are generous enough to please all but the very tallest woman.
The button-through collar looks good and makes for some ventilation options, but in use this isn't really required anyway, as the merino does a great job of keeping the body a stable and comfortable temperature.
It also looks much more like a soft, cosy jumper than a cycling or outdoorsy top, so it doesn't feel wierd to wear it down the pub or in a cafe that doesn't have 'velo' in the name.
A single buttoned back pocket with hi viz logo is the only place to stash keys or money, and it's not that secure, but anything else (such as zips etc) would cause problems with the fabric I suspect. You'd be better off using a bag of some sort.
Available in sizes XXS to XL, with M being roughly equivalent to a UK12.
A seriously luxurious-feeling long-sleeved casual riding top that'll look good on or off the bike and is actually pretty good value for money.
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Make and model: Rapha Women's Long Sleeve Merino Jersey
Size tested: Medium, Dark Moroccan 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?
Aimed at female riders looking for a stylish casual jersey option that offers performance elements too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% merino wool
Machine washable (cool)
single button fastening rear pocket
Hi viz patch (optional)
Available in sizes XXS to XL
Hard to fault the quality of the merino or the construction.
It's incredibly comfortable and great to ride in
No problems with the durability of the merino itself, but it is prone to being pulled by velcro attachments or snagging on rucksacks etc. Best worn on its own without stuff potentially rubbing on it.
Very comfortable indeed, both in terms of the fabric itself and also its performance when riding.
On a par price-wise with similar quality merino tops and it will last for years (provided it doesn't get eaten by velcro) so pretty good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, colour, fit, fabric, quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Well made and attractive. An excellent casual riding jersey.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.