Rapha Sportwool jersey

It’s probably the item of cycling gear that I get the most use out of all year round. I bought it last year in late November and have been using it constantly since then. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s also incredibly practical.

As autumn draws in I’ve started to wear the arm warmers that came with the short-sleeved version. With a massive stripe of hi-visibility material all the way down them they are ideal for making sure that other road users can pick you out a little more easily in the gloom.

At the moment I wear it most days of the week for commuting to work in. Even with a chill in the air first thing I still haven’t had to resort to a gilet yet as it keeps me nicely warm once I get going. That’s not to say it’s just a autumn/winter/spring jersey – I wore it for most of the summer, even the hottest bits, and didn’t feel overheated in it. In its favour is the fact that the merino wool content ensures that you don’t end up suffering from that horrible damp clinginess you get with most “technical fabrics” when they reach saturation point.

The design is well-considered: a zippered waterproof pocket for keys/money/phone and button holes to run headphone cables though are my favourite features. Although I have told the designer that I thought the button holes needed to be a bit bigger so you don’t have to stretch them to get a normal headphone jack through (as opposed to the much slimmer iPod ones).

There’s also little drawcord adjusters at the waist to ensure it doesn’t flap or sag when the pockets are loaded up. The three pockets are a great size and easily-accessed thanks to being slightly angled at the top. Plus there’s an extra pump pocket, although I tend to use this for shoving gels in.

I can wear it down the pub if needs be without stinking like a compost heap or being asked if I got dressed in the dark – and that’s without owning a Mapei top.

As for looking after it: once a week, 30 degree wool wash, stuffed in a pillow case to ensure it doesn’t snag on the drum. Not had any problems with it and the collours are still almost as good as new.

So my verdict is: if you want one jersey for all seasons and all uses, this is the one I’d go for. It’s stylish, well-made and doesn’t scream “cyclist” like some kit does. Detractors will say it is overly expensive but I take the view that the extra cost pays back in comfort and reliability of the kit.



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