Chapeau Café jersey - review - Road Cycling UK

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Chapeau Café jersey – review

Stylish and understated alternative to a race jersey, well-suited to casual riding

The Chapeau Café jersey is an understated yet stylish top which offers an excellent alternative to a race jersey for casual riding, but still comes with many of the practical features you’d look for in a more performance-orientated piece of clothing.

The very first thing to mention here is the sizing – you will need to go a size down from your usual if you want a more fitted look. The cut, however, strikes a sensible balance between casual and race. It’s not something you’d wear off the bike but nor does it scream ‘cyclist’ if you’re riding over to the pub.

The jersey is made from a bamboo (64 per cent) and polyester (32 per cent) mix, with some elastane making up the remaining two per cent. As the result, the fabric has plenty of natural stretch and the jersey holds its form, but doesn’t feel as compressive as a typical synthetic jersey.

The Chapeau Cafe jersey offers a stylish alternative to modern synthetic jerseys
  • Specification

  • Price: £49.99
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: Chapeau
  • UK distributor: Velobrands

Chapeau have used a thicker, ribbed fabric on the neck (which feels comfortable when the jersey is fully zipped up) and at the bottom of the sleeves (making for a pleasantly different feel to the flush sleeves of many modern jerseys and remaining in place with little fuss). The chest zip is quite short, around a quarter length, and while it’s of good quality, I’d have liked it to be a little longer to allow for more venting.

The main fabric feels really nice against the skin and is quite a contrast to the synthetic material we’re more used to wearing as cyclists. It still works fairly well at wicking sweat but will hold on to a little more moisture than a fully polyester fabric, but not to the point of becoming overly saturated or making you feel too clammy.

Still, that’s ultimately the compromise of the jersey – the balance of the relaxed look and fit, ideal for more sedate riding (to the café, say), as opposed to how it performs during long, hot summer rides or an interval training session, when a lighter, more breathable jersey is more ideally suited to the task in hand.

The natural stretch of the fabric does mean the pockets are prone to sagging when loaded with my usual stash of an inner tube, tool and pump. However, if you prefer to ride with your essentials in a saddlebag, and pockets relatively light in load, then it’s not really an issue.

The jersey still has its fair share of up-to-date features, including a zipped pocket

Speaking of the pockets, there’s the usual arrangement of three across the back, with the corner areas double stitched to increase the durability. There’s also a handy zipped pocket, though it could perhaps be improved with the introduction of a water resistant lining. Out back you’ll also find a reflective Chapeau logo and a functional elasticated gripper on the hem with round silicone dots to add some more adhesion.

Finally, this is a really stylish jersey, so top marks to Chapeau for that, and it’s available in three other designs besides the one tested.

Conclusion

The Chapeau Café jersey is a pleasant change from many other jerseys on the market. It still offers adequate wicking for moderate efforts and retains the practical elements you’ll expect from a jersey, but with a stylish and casual aesthetic. Pay attention to sizing and it’s certainly something a bit different for the cycling wardrobe.

Pros

  • Stylish jersey for the café ride
  • Sensible cut
  • Retains practical features

Cons

  • Front zip could be longer
  • Pockets prone to sagging when fully loaded
  • Not as breathable as synthetic performance-focused fabrics

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