The Rapha Women’s Pro Team Crit Jersey is comfortable, eye-catching and performs really well. As the name suggests, it's been designed specifically for crit racing, but I've found it comfortable for long training rides too, and I love the bright design, snazzy logos and reflective pattern.
It's a little pricey at £110, but the fact that it's suitable for long training rides and not just racing means it earns its keep.
Crit races typically involve racing around several laps of the same circuit for an hour, and to suit this purpose the Pro Team Crit Jersey is made with a lightweight, high-stretch material to give a skin-tight fit, with no flapping to slow you down. It's very well made, with a smooth bonded hem at the bottom to improve your aerodynamics. How well it does that I can't be sure, but it certainly feels fast.
It performed well for its tended purpose of an intense hour blowout. Its lightweight and breathable fabric kept me from overheating, and the close fit made me feel aerodynamic as I picked up speed, especially when going downhill, helping me build confidence to keep pushing and go faster.
The testing period included a very warm spell, and the jersey coped well on longer rides too; the breathable fabric helps, and if you do start to get a little hot, the full length zip at the front is easy to open, which means no struggling to adjust it while riding. There's also an inner strip of material under the zip, preventing it from catching on any layers you might be wearing underneath.
That said, if you're planning on racing in hotter climates abroad you might want to consider a jersey designed more specifically for the heat, such as the Assos Dyora RS Summer jersey, which does away with a collar and has a unique woven fabric. The collar on the Rapha jersey felt a little heavier than the rest of the jersey, and could be sleeker.
As well as three standard pockets on the back of the jersey, you also get a mesh pocket on top, into which you slip your race number. This seems like a great alternative to having to put pins through your favourite race jersey and risking getting a hole in it, but as Jamie pointed out in his review of the men's version, for those few competitors not wearing club kit, the coloured mesh is likely to obscure your number, and might not be deemed 'legal' by the race officials.
Additionally, because the pocket is made of such thin mesh, I wouldn't feel comfortable storing anything else in it, as it doesn't feel particularly robust. Having said this, it's very discreet and so well designed into the jersey that if you didn't use it you wouldn't realise it was there.
In regards to sizing, I tested a Small but could have worn an XS for an even closer fit. Use the Pro Fit guide on Rapha's website and you should be fine, perhaps sizing down if you're borderline.
I found the length of the jersey very good, front and rear. When in a riding position there was enough coverage at the back, and it stayed in place well, helped by the red silicone strip.
I also liked the length of the sleeves – just slightly longer than a typical short sleeve. I found them nicely elastic and they stretched comfortably around my arm.
I have to say, I also really like the design, inspired by road markings according to Rapha. I usually prefer my cycling clothing simple and understated, but the bright gradient design on this jersey really appeals, as do the reflective dots front and rear which are a good safety feature too, improving your visibility in low light.
I've also been testing Rapha's Crit Bib Shorts (full review to come), which are designed to match this jersey, and they make a really great combination set.
At £110 the Pro Team Crit jersey is a little pricey, though it is at the cheaper end of Rapha's race jerseys. For example, the Pro Team Aero Jersey is £145, the Pro Team Flyweight is £130, and the Pro Team Jersey that Janine tested is £120.
Ashia reviewed the Souplesse Aero last year and said it performed well but she couldn't stomach the cost when there are cheaper alternatives on the market.
And you can certainly get cheaper aero race jerseys that still perform well. The Bioracer Epic Women Jersey Camo Dot, for example, which is £88, is worth considering – Emma loved its advanced materials and high quality construction.
If you can afford it, though, the Pro Team Crit is a beautifully designed jersey that performs well and has a great fit. The race pocket won't be useful for many, but it doesn't affect the jersey's qualities. And don't be put off by the name or the idea that this jersey is only suitable for racing – it's a comfortable option for short and fast rides, and also longer, slower ones.
High-quality, lightweight jersey that performs well whether you're racing or training
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Pro Team Crit Jersey
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, 'Criterium racing is a discipline apart, deserving of dedicated kit. Created for the rigours of an all-out, hour-long effort, the Women's Crit Jersey is built for speed, with a new design inspired by road markings and reflective applications to make sure you stand out on the startline when racing in low light. Made of a lightweight, highly breathable fabric with excellent stretch, the jersey fits close to the body for an aerodynamic advantage. There's a full-length, easy-glide zip for extra ventilation on the fly, and a laser cut, bonded inner placket to ensure the zip does not damage your bibs. Reworked RAPHA logos feature on the sleeves while reflective applications extend over the shoulders to the rear pockets. Lined with mesh for additional airflow, the pockets incorporate a unique dual layer design with mesh to accommodate a race number without the need for pins. The front hem is bonded for minimal bulk and bunching while in aggressive race positions, while at the rear an elasticated gripper holds the jersey in place, ready to rail bends and turn heads.'
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
The construction is very well thought through, including the bonded hems and zip placket.
The jersey is made using high stretch fabric to give a good aerodynamic and comfortable fit.
I could have worn an XS for an even closer fit, but the size guide is accurate.
The jersey felt lightweight and is suited for summer riding.
Very comfortable, breathable and held in place well by the silicone gripper.
It's an expensive jersey, especially if just for racing, but if you plan to wear it for training as well then you're getting more for your money. That said, you can get cheaper aero race jerseys, such as the Bioracer mentioned in the review.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I washed the jersey at 30 degrees and it came out looking like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed really well; it's very comfortable, breathable and the stretchy fabric gives a great fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The bright design and fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's not cheap...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's not cheap.
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
It's very good: it's a high quality jersey with an excellent fit, the fabric breathes well and it's very comfortable. It's not cheap, and you might not buy it for racing alone, but it's a good top for training as well, which helps justify the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Langma Advanced 1 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,