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The Rapha Men's Pro Team Gravel Jersey is extremely comfortable, about as cool as a skintight top gets and is well suited to the racing it's designed for. It's also fantastically expensive, awkward to get on and off, and sizes up small. If you're not racing seriously it's hard to justify.
That price. There's really no ignoring it – £175 is extremely high for a short sleeve jersey, and tops even the other premium stuff we've tested recently, such as MAAP's fancy gravel effort, the Alt_Road, at £150. And while the Assos Mille GT Jersey C2 Drop Head might not be gravel specific, there's really very little difference and that's lovely for £110.
You really have a great choice of excellent summer jerseys for half this price. The Santini Gravel did very well in our review, for instance, and though the official price has since risen to £110, Santini frequently discounts its clothes; at the time of writing this was actually selling for £71.50.
The Endura GV500 Reiver S/S Jersey is also very good and costs £89.99.
With that out of the way, I can at least say this is a very good jersey – beautifully made, extremely comfortable and guaranteed to at the very least not slow you down. It's seriously not going to flap or even ruck up anywhere, and Rapha claims it's 'tested in the wind tunnel for aero efficiency at gravel racing speeds'.
Assuming this aero performance is at least partly responsible for the premium, it's a shame Rapha doesn't say anything whatsoever about how it actually did in the windtunnel.
Certainly it's designed for a very tight and smooth fit, and having tested a size beyond what Rapha's guide recommends, I actually wouldn't want to wear the medium my 100cm chest rates. In fact, I've got very little doubt I could wear an XL without any issue. This sizes up small.
The 'stability' hemband, there to keep the pockets secure even when the 3/4 zip is right down, doesn't help here. Unlike the rest of the jersey it's very strongly elasticated, and can make getting this on and off tricky – especially when it's all damp with sweat and you're knackered. I got myself trussed up like Houdini on his first day at work a few times until I figured out the technique.
Once on, though, it's lovely, and kept me comfortably cool even when sweating through the 30°C+ heatwave of the test period. The polyester/elastane main fabric is very thin, and the perforations in the chest and underarm area work well. (Note, they're not as see-through as our photos would suggest, either.)
The long sleeves and high-backed neck add a little protection and also sit with barely-there comfort, and still don't make this top feel too warm. It's probably the coolest jersey I've worn short of loose-fitting mountain bike ones that allow breezes directly across the skin, and naturally it's much more aero than those.
Technically you get five pockets for your food and gear, though really it's the traditional three with some slim, corner-entry extras on top of the outer two. These seem best suited to gels and wrappers, while the main three are secure but not the biggest, being barely a handwidth and not incredibly deep either. Still, for racing you'll want to be travelling light anyway.
The upside is the extra layer still seems to breathe well, and I never noticed my lower back getting especially hot or any more sweaty than the rest of me. Unfortunately, the stylish grey fabric does darken significantly when it's wet, leading to unsightly sweat patches. It's available in a Light Teal/Dark Orange option too.
This is lovely to wear – cool, comfy and unrestrictive – and very nicely put together, but for the price you might well expect perfection. And it's not perfect. It sizes up small, shows up sweat patches (in this colour at least) and can be a pain to get on and off. Also, while it's windtunnel-tested for racing performance, even Rapha doesn't say if it did well in those tests or not.
If you're serious about racing and going all-out for any possible gains – and can afford it – this is a very nice jersey for hot days. For anything less exacting, though, the price puts it out of contention.
Very cool and very comfortable, but sizes up small and my word, that price...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Men's Pro Team Gravel Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says: "The new Pro Team Gravel Jersey was developed using insights drawn from our roster of world class gravel riders who compete at the toughest gravel races in the world."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Built for pure gravel racing performance in mild to warm conditions
Highly breathable open mesh front with 3/4 zip for rapid ventilation in race conditions
5-pocket storage system optimised for stability and easy access to essentials
Tested in the wind tunnel for aero efficiency at gravel racing speeds
Woven rear panel for rapid sweat wicking and efficient thermoregulation
Raised collar for maximum UV protection on the neck
Recommended for use in hot and humid race conditions
Gusseted construction for full range of motion
3/4 zip with a stability hemband system
Gravel print inside the heat transfers
Silicone hem gripper
Lovely, as you'd expect for the price.
Very comfortable (once you've struggled it on) and very cool.
Slim, comfortable, unrestrictive and secure.
This comes up small. This size large (rated for a 106cm chest) gave me a skintight fit and it was an effort to squeeze the elastic band over my head, especially once it was damp and rolled itself into a tube, yet the guide says I'm a size medium. The medium should fit a 100cm chest, which is exactly what I measure. I certainly don't want/need any tighter than this large. In reality I could probably wear an XL without any looseness.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at the usual 30°C.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it's very comfortable, impressively cool and totally unrestrictive.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort, quality and useful cooling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
This grey fabric darkens with sweat patches, the sizing seems off, and it's very expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It doesn't really. Even MAAP's gravel effort, the Alt_Road, is cheaper at £150, and while the Assos Mille GT Jersey C2 Drop Head might not be gravel specific, there's really very little difference and that's lovely for £110.
You really have a great choice of excellent summer jerseys for half this price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? It's very unlikely.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is hard to score because it's beautifully made, very comfortable on hot, fast rides and good at doing what it's designed to do. On the other hand it's almost madly expensive, and the claims of aero benefits at gravel speeds are as hard to quantify as they are to seriously credit (beyond it not flapping, anyway, and much cheaper jerseys also don't flap).
The small sizing is a further niggle, though at least one that's easily solvable, unlike the awkwardness of the 3/4 zip and 'stability band'. Nevertheless it's a lovely jersey... but not twice as lovely as your choices at £85. That £175 asking price just can't be ignored, and it can only affect the score.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,