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Rapha Pro Team Climber’s Jersey – review

Coming in plain black, plain white or the far from plain but fetching coral version that we have here, Rapha’s Climber’s Jersey exists for one reason: to keep you cool when the temperature soars - and it does that job superbly.

The whole jersey is made from mesh. The main paneling on the front being what Rapha call ‘eyelet based’, which on first glance seems to have a pattern but, if you look very closely, you’ll see that the material has been constructed in square patterns with the corner of each square being a hole. If you pull the material tight you can almost see right through it, giving you an idea of how breathable it’s likely to be when riding.

The sides and just below the pockets on the back are made from a traditional open mesh-type material which offers an even higher degree of breathability, while the back and shoulders are made from a high-stretch fabric. Part of the reason for this is to help protect those areas from the sun’s rays, as they tend to be exposed to the elements all day on a long ride.

One of the big issues with these lightweight jerseys is that by their very nature they tend to be a little less sturdy. And by that I mean they can sag when the pockets are full. Rapha have thought about this, though, and added two stabilising bonding lines up the back of the jersey in an attempt to directly combat any sagging that wants to occur when you’ve filled the pockets. In practice, the pockets do still sag a little if overloaded, but then most pockets do and if you struggle too much it might be time to streamline your riding gear, or possibly invest in a small saddlebag.

One of the key reasons for buying this sort of kit is that it’s light. When we stuck this jersey on the scales our medium came out at 118g. Admittedly not up there with, say, the claimed 65g from Adidas’s new Adizero jersey, but given that the difference between the two is a few gulps of water, it’s probably not worth getting too stressed out about.

Out riding on hot days and this jersey is superb. I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on your opinion on riding in the heat) to wear this in some serious warm weather over the last month or so, and it’s one of the best jerseys I’ve ever used in terms of keeping you cool. The mostly mesh construction means fantastic ventilation as well as excellent heat dissipation, and when you get really desperate you can always undo the full length zip. Speaking of which, there are two little tabs on either side of the zip, which makes it easy to find and do back up again. Smart. Another neat touch with the zip is that it’s backed for the full length by a piece of material, which is yet another nod to comfort as it stops the zipper itself rubbing.

Even when you’re climbing, working hard and sweating profusely, the jersey remains comfortable against the skin and generally helps to make climbing in the heat a slightly nicer experience. And the elasticity of the jersey means it moves with the body beautifully, even out of the saddle attempting to go full Contador. The overall feel is amazing, the material is fantastically smooth and it sits very well against the skin, even if you’re not wearing a base layer. The fit is also excellent. It’s a close, figure-hugging cut, which you’d expect given that this is part of the Pro Team range, but in no way restrictive providing you get the size right, and Rapha offer six sizes from XS to XXL.

Conclusion

There’s only one issue that I’d bring up with the Climber’s jersey – and it’s not necessarily a criticism – and that is that it does its job so well, it’s not the most versatile bit of kit ever. It might be well at home in the south of France or Italy in summer, but in the UK its more likely to be reserved for those really warms days. Having said that, of course, if you’re thinking about buying a dedicated lightweight jersey for very warm weather, or you’re off to ride somewhere particularly toasty this summer, then lightweight kit doesn’t get much better than this.

Pros

– Exceptional ventilation and breathability for very hot weather
– Amazingly comfortable fit and material
– Solid choice of colours

Cons

– It’s so good at what it does, it means it’s not the most versatile jersey around

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