Iconic British clothing manufacturer Rapha have been around for a fair few years now, and are well known for their stylish, premium, high-cut, and expensive clothing range - and there's no arguing that the boy's in black are very much on top of their game. In the past year the company have made a real push into the Asian market, and Rapha clad and capped riders are now a common sight on the roads of many regions on the continent. In 2013 they will be clothing Sir Wiggo and Team Sky, so I'm sure you'll see a lot more Rapha jerseys around, and I can't wait to see the new team strip.
I guess it's no secret that (on the whole) I've been a fan of the Rapha rang (but not it's price) for some time - and having ridden through a number of their cherished garments during the past year that stance still stands true. Their products really are top draw, both from a style and function point of view - and, naturally, the price matches that ranking.
Without an question it's above the waistline where they really excel - with their jerseys leading the way. A few months back I got hold of a "Club Jersey", which is pretty much their standard baseline short sleeved offering.
The jersey is closed up with a short zip, a rarity these days, yet it somehow feels a whole lot less bulky this way, which I like. The waistline has a neat "rubbery" band to hold it tight, while the back has three standard rear pockets; one with an outer zip pouch and the middle pocket with an internal pump pouch (tiny pump pouch). Nothing fancy, but purely practical, although the familiar Rapha inner pocket "story" patch is a sweet treat.
For 2013 the jersey also comes in blue or cream, but I had a black version with a pink chest stripe - signature Rapha. All in the jersey looks great - with the bottom half being a slightly lighter shade of black to the top - maybe even a very dark grey; subtle, but nice. The make up of the fabric is Merino wool and Polyester, giving a soft feel, and nice wicking properties, and the bottom half feels lighter than the top half.
The bottom line
It's a class act - no quibbles there. It looks great, you just wonder how something so simple can continually look so good, and why the copies and imitations just can't hack it. It fits and feels superb, it has taken over as my favourite, and most comfortable Rapha jersey, and is just made for long rides and for travelling.
It wicks pretty well, but the lower half can carry moisture on a real sweaty day - although it does dry out better than most competitors, or rather I should say most other jerseys.
You do need to read the laundry instructions with Rapha kit, you're paying a premium price for premium kit - so look after it! Mine has a few shiny ironing marks from a bad launderer... damn, but it still looks great.
If you can afford the investment (US$160) you won't be disappointed!