Rapha Women’s Lightweight jersey review£110.00

Justifiably high-priced cycling top

BikeRadar score5/5

Unlike cycling knicks or bib shorts, it’s sometimes harder to justify spending extra money on a jersey. A cheap jersey does its job well if the fit is more or less right. And in comparison to the rate at which we wear through shorts, a jersey is more likely to go out of rotation because it no longer has the visual appeal it once did. So why pay extra, when cheap enough is often good enough?

Upon receiving Rapha’s new Women’s Lightweight jersey for testing we were pleasantly surprised. This is a jersey that approaches things differently.

For starters, it’s not quite merino and it’s not quite lycra. With a fine merino lining and a polyester outer it provides the best of both worlds; the lack of stink after all day rides provided by one and the ability to maintain it’s shape even when the pockets are loaded provided by the other. The material is woven together as one fabric maintaining breathability and a light, comfortable feel.

The sleeves and overall length are a little longer than the souplesse jersey:
The sleeves and overall length are a little longer than the souplesse jersey:

The sleeves and overall length are a little longer than the Souplesse jersey

The cut is more relaxed than the Women’s Souplesse jersey we reviewed recently. This increases the range of women who will feel confident in this classic looking, logo free item.

The Lightweight Jersey has functional storage options, which rethink the usual three-pocket approach to jersey design. Two deep side pockets allow more generous capacity than is typically seen in the smaller sizes of a female range. In the centre of the two main pockets is a zipped section that expands behind the entire pocket panel, providing space for larger items.

The angled pockets are easy to get to and offer deep storage space:
The angled pockets are easy to get to and offer deep storage space:

Storage space is generous and extremely well-thought out

A hidden side zipped pocket secures your phone or keys. The back panel of this pocket once again delivers protection for these goods (and unexpectedly contains a brief cycling history lesson – a nice Rapha quirk).

The pockets provide options for all day cycling adventures but are constructed so as not to disrupt the flattering and secure design of the Lightweight jersey as a whole.

At AU$185 / US$175 / £110 the 2014 Lightweight jersey won't suit everyone's budgets, but we can’t fault its superior fit and composition (as we’ve come to expect from Rapha) or innovative approach to a well-used cycling staple. It's available in classic tones – creamy yellow or a greenish blue – meaning it won’t date as quickly as some brighter, flashier or logo-adorned numbers, so you should get more wears for your money too.

Kath Bicknell

Freelance Writer, Australia
Cycling academic and product tester, Kath brings expertise from the research world to discussions on technology, equipment and performance. She's ridden road and mountain bikes for most of her life and loves that no two rides are ever the same. Based in Sydney, days in the sunshine are her favourite, as are rides with challenging ups followed by pumping, playful descents.
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 164cm / 5'5"
  • Weight: 56kg / 123lb
  • Waist: 66cm / 26in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: All of it
  • Current Bikes: Santa Cruz Bronson, Specialized Amira Pro and a pub bike
  • Dream Bike: I dream about lots of bikes
  • Beer of Choice: Strong flat white
  • Location: Sydney, Australia

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