Rapha's Cross Jersey, with built in shoulder pad. photo: courtesy manufacturer
by Steve Ransom and Andrew Yee
A cyclocross-specific jersey? Yes, the boys at Rapha have expanded their offerings into cyclocross with a ‘cross jersey, released this fall. Does Rapha know ‘cross? We put it to the test this season to find out.
We won’t beat around the bush. $230 is a lot to spend on a jersey. But if you ride your ‘cross bike year ’round, and after seeing the price you’re still reading this review, you might get your money’s worth out of these stylish threads.
Rapha uses its Comfort-rich SportwoolTM (78% polyester and 22% merino wool) to provide breathable but itch-free warmth. Although we love pure wool, the Rapha Sportwool was a bit more versatile as temperatures climbed throughout the day. A full zip helps add to the versatility – it can be a quickly-removed warm-up layer or a chest-hair showcase. The coffee, black and orange color scheme is unique and hides fall mud well.
The Cross Jersey has some other neat features, including an angled zipper on the pocket, which made the pocket easier to open and close, and a tall collar to keep you warm during real ‘cross weather. Black side panels are said to have a slimming effect, although we can’t say it hid our Wednesday night Super Burrito habit very well. But the neatest feature, and the one that makes this a “cross” jersey, is the built-in shoulder pad. So, flattened top tube or not, on the run-ups, your 22-pound bike will suddenly feel like you just added some superlight carbon hoops. (And that’s certainly one way to justify the price – $230 is far less than a light set of carbon wheels.) With such shouldering comfort, we were even tempted to sign up for the Three Peaks’ hike-a-bike misery (but we didn’t).
The comfy shoulder pad is on the right, where most of us carry our bikes. Nick Weighall and Ben Jacques-Maynes, both wrong-side dismounters, are out of luck and won’t feel the love from Rapha, but we’re sure they have team kits they need to wear anyway. Worn alone in fall temperatures, or over or under other layers in cold winter temperatures, the jersey was comfortable, warm, and kept us dry. It’s an interesting garment – a great piece for practice races or for the unsponsored racer – but most folks have their own kit to wear come race day and so it’s more likely to be a warm-up jersey or for training.
The jersey also comes in an “Independent Fabrications” model that has IF embroidery and logos, and matches an limited-edition, Rapha-styled IF bike as well. There are also matching bibs knickers available, in black with the same orange trim.
After a few months of use, here’s what we thought:
- Great colors – The brown jersey with orange highlights is not only unique but also is the perfect color for riding in the fall mud.
- Padded Shoulder – A unique feature of the jersey is a right shoulder pad for shouldering your bike. It adds just the right touch of comfort without being too bulky.
- Back Pocket – The zippered back pocket has easy access and is great for holding keys and money during a race.
- Full Zip – The full front zipper makes the jersey perfect for warming up on cold fall days before your race. Easy on, easy off.
- Back Pocket – While the jersey has a great zippered pocket there are no pockets for a water bottle or a jacket. This is fine for your local cross race or cruising to the coffee shop, but it makes any longer ride or off-road adventure a bit of a challenge. And that’s when we wanted to use this jersey most, since we have team jerseys for race day.
- Pricey. While it is a great jersey, $230 is a lot of money, especially if you tend to crash a lot.
Rapha Cross Jersey, with angled zippered rear pocket. photo: courtesy manufacturer
More Info: Rapha.cc