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The Rapha Pro Team Crit Jersey is close fitting and designed for going fast, the materials are high quality, and I found the fit very good. The plethora of reflective accents are sure to get you noticed, but I'm still not convinced by the usefulness of mesh race number pockets on the rear.
As the name suggests, the Pro Team Crit jersey is designed for racing and in particular criteriums – high-intensity races typically lasting an hour or so, comprising laps of a short city-centre circuit. A high stretch fabric has been used so that the jersey sits close to the body for an 'aerodynamic advantage'. Despite this, Rapha's offering is more than comfortable enough for extended periods much longer than your typical crit race. I've been wearing it on 100km 'fast' rides which I'd never even dream of doing in a more restrictive skinsuit or other race clothing.
I'm personally a big fan of the on-bike fit of this jersey, although in the quest for minimal material it is quite short at the front which becomes apparent when you're stood up. Unlike with some aero jerseys, such as the dhb Raceline, you actually get a collar which I prefer, and this also means it can be worn without the need for a V-neck baselayer.
The Crit jersey shares many characteristics with the Pro Team Aero jersey that David tested in 2017. For example, the long cut on the sleeves has been retained, which might improve aerodynamics marginally but, as David noted, isn't great for tanning.
One element of the jersey that is pretty unusual is the double layer pockets. The inner set are your conventional three top-entry affairs, which although not huge do have enough space for the majority of rides. Because these are quite deep and also made of the elasticated material, I was never worried about losing the contents, and even when out of the saddle climbing, everything stayed firmly in place.
Over the top of these pockets are two side-entry pouches designed for race numbers. Because you need to see race numbers through them, they're made of a thin mesh which makes them pretty exclusively for numbers, as anything with any weight risks damaging them. As a Cat 2 racer with a registered team, I'm required in any BC race to wear club colours, and I imagine that this is also the case for the majority of racers here in the UK. (Anyone above Cat 4 with a registered team is required to wear team colours in all British Cycling events.) If you are one of the few people in the UK with a genuine use for them then you're not out of the woods either, as the green mesh does hinder visibility of a number; I'm no race connoisseur but I'd say you're treading the line with what's legal.
Luckily, despite being of little use to most people, the number pockets don't hinder the jersey: they're light, breathable and sit so close to the jersey that it's very easy to forget they're even there.
Although by no means heavy, the Crit jersey does feel more robust than, for example, the dhb Raceline jersey I mentioned earlier. This should aid durability, and over the last month and a bit of testing I haven't had any problems. In my opinion this slightly thicker construction does hinder breathability a little, though. The Pro Team Crit jersey is by no means warm and was perfectly comfortable on some fairly hot rides in the UK, but, on a warm weather training camp my Castelli Aero Race 6.0 jersey with a full mesh back did feel cooler on long, hard climbs.
Looks can be very subjective and I try to steer clear of them in most of my reviews, but I've got to say that I think Rapha has done a cracking job with this one. I love the gradient colour and although some might say the reflective dots up the back are a little excessive, they really stand out in low light, adding an element of safety.
At £110 the Crit jersey would be an expensive purchase if only used for criterium racing, although Rapha's free crash repair service does make it slightly more acceptable. Thankfully, like many other aero jerseys it can be used for training rides as well; it's still not cheap but it is priced fairly against its competition. The Castelli Aero Race 6.0 costs an identical £110, as does the dhb Raceline jersey. These are both slightly more breathable, but unless you plan on riding in temperatures more typical of abroad then this should be of little concern.
Despite not having a V-neck, Rapha's offering appears to be very aero and is cheaper than a lot of other jerseys, including its sibling the Pro Team Aero jersey (£140). It's also cheaper than the recently tested Alé Green PRR jersey (£125), though that does use recycled fibres, and Neon Velo's Pro Fit Aero jersey is £120, while Gore's C7 Race Jersey is £160.
Overall, Rapha's Crit jersey is a quality product that I found fitted well and looks particularly neat when paired with the matching bib shorts. Although the race number pockets are a little redundant to many racers in the UK, they don't detract from the jersey, which is excellent for training in as well as racing.
Ignore the number pockets and it's an excellent-fitting and high-quality jersey for racing and training
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Crit Jersey
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says this jersey is "Created specifically for the rigours of an all-out, hour long effort, the Crit Jersey is built for speed".
I agree it feels fast and the stretchy fabric means it gives little away in the way of watts. However, it's perfectly comfortable so I've been using it for training in as well as racing.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Race-ready aerodynamic fit
Lightweight, breathable fabric for temperature regulation
Full-length, easy-glide zip for ventilation
Mesh-lined pockets promote airflow
Bonded placket to protect bib shorts
Reflective applications inspired by road markings
Subtle gripper keeps the jersey in place
Bonded front hem reduces bulk
I feel that some of those reflective dots are going to fall off at some point but they haven't yet. Stitching and material feel less fragile than on some race jerseys.
Really nice cut.
Accurate but expect it to be tight, like it should be.
Around the same price as other good quality aero jerseys, and quite a few are more expensive.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Rapha recommends 30 degrees; it also handled an accidental 40 degree absolutely fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Feels fast, and is comfortable. I'd happily wear it for crits if I was allowed. Some jerseys are slightly more breathable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The on-bike fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The dubiousness of the number pocket legality. Green mesh is a bit risky!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Surprisingly well. As mentioned in the review, Castelli's and dhb's aero jersey offerings are an identical price. The recently tested Ale Green PRR jersey is more expensive, though it does use recycled fibres. Plenty of other race jerseys are more expensive: Neon Velo's is £120 and Gore's £160.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
High quality jersey that performs really well, although some are slightly more breathable. It makes up for it with a great on-bike cut and, compared to similar products, a surprisingly reasonable price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,