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The Cafe du Cycliste Constance is a premium colder-weather jersey that comes in an eye-catching design and boasts a very high-end and durable finish. The snug performance fit, generous elastication and capacious pockets are all very well done, but there are jerseys at around half the price doing a very similar job. There's no windproofing or rain protection, for example, though it does dry quickly. The temperature regulation is good all the way down to single-figure rides when coupled with a baselayer, but it does lack some versatility for the price.
The first thing that will catch your eye about this Cafe du Cycliste jersey is the fetching cream and navy stripes – sorry, chalk and navy –which are very visible but not particularly forgiving to those carrying a bit of holiday weight! It also comes in a more low-key black and avocado tone.
I was mainly riding in dry weather between 6 and 16°C and the Constance Jersey performed admirably. The Italian material is over three-quarters recycled, and its four-way stretch is very handy for keeping everything supported.
I liked the close performance fit, but the front was a touch on the short side, so I was glad I had paired the jersey with some of my higher-rising bibs.
Often, I find sleeve length can be a problem, but Cafe du Cycliste has got it just right here, for me, with material cutting off just before my gloves begin. If you like having a bit of additional material for tucking into gloves, you might them a bit on the short side.
The collar is low rise without quite being grandad shirt; a happy medium.
The material is incredibly soft thanks to what Cafe du Cyclist calls micro-brushed material, and when it does soak up body moisture, it dries in the wind pretty quickly. Cafe du Cycliste says the jersey is intended for high-intensity big efforts and it did dissipate moisture quickly at moments where I'd built up perspiration.
It's definitely a positive for me that Cafe du Cyclist has used OEKO-TEX and Bluesign-certified fabric, which means only environmentally safe processes are used in its production and it contains no harmful substances.
The same material has been used throughout, so there is no additional blocking of chilly winds, something that was particularly noticeable without an underlayer. The internal zip baffle built into the neckline blocks some wind, and extends almost a third of the way down the torso.
Combined with a baselayer, it kept my body temperature at a pleasant, constant level.
I'd advise adding, at minimum, a gilet or a long-sleeved windbreaker for any days or evenings where the temperature drops below 6 degrees – especially if you aren't going to be dealing in the "intense efforts" recommended by Cafe Du Cycliste. Your arms will thank you as they won't be protected at those lower temperatures by the jersey material.
At the rear of the jersey a thick belt of elastic has been sewn underneath the entrance to the cargo pockets. From what I can tell, this adds nothing to cargo capacity, but contributes to the tight fit of the jersey.
The dual row of grippers at the rear hem works well to keep the jersey in place, though I did need to tug the front down to prevent a gap opening up when off the bike. On the other side of the hem, Cafe du Cycliste has added some very subtle 'CAFE' branding to accompany the flying orange fish on the breast, which completes a tasteful overall effect, in my opinion.
My only concern really is the durability of a partially cream-coloured jersey, as even small road spatters are hard to remove.
While there are other jerseys around this price and higher, they do tend to offer a bit more for the money.
The Castelli Flight Jersey Air, for example, is £176 but a significantly more technical garment. Matt really rated its temperature regulation, and it has additional 3D mesh in the front panels to assist with wind chill. Castelli gives it a slightly higher temperature capacity, but Matt found it performed well down to single digits, plus it has some water repellency.
Another one to consider is the Santini Adapt Wool Jersey, which, as you've probably guessed, uses a combination of wool and synthetic fibres for extra insulation. Paul had his reservations about the price in 2020 when it was £155, but it's now £130. The temperature regulation works similarly well to the Constance Jersey, and it comes with some seriously chunky hems and grippers.
You don't need to spend even that much, though: I recently reviewed the Band of Climbers Empire Thermal Jersey which is just £115 and it really impressed me. It's a super-warm jersey that dissipates heat really well and doesn't clog up with perspiration on long climbs. It has a really tight performance fit and boasts many of the same material claims as the Constance, with four-way stretch and grippers that keep it in place perfectly. There is no protection from rain, so it's pretty much in line with the Constance.
There's no doubt that this is a lovely jersey to wear, but when you compare it with offerings in the same price range from other brands, it comes up slightly short on technical materials, and you could opt for something more versatile instead. The environmental credentials are great, though, and it's very well made.
Smart-looking jersey but you might expect more versatility for the money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Constance Men's High Intensity Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
From Cafe du Cycliste: "Devour the roads and climbs with Constance, a long sleeve race jersey made with an Italian milled recycled nylon and elastane blend. Created for intense efforts in cool to mild conditions, the jersey has four-way stretch for a smooth fit, fast drying properties, durable overlock stitching and superior moisture movement. This is a jersey for high tempo training rides, racing in milder conditions and when layering with gilets or jackets.
"This performance fit jersey is for high tempo training rides, racing in milder conditions and when layering with gilets or jackets. With a micro-brushed finish inside, Constance is quick drying as well as breathable. Other performance details include three cargo pockets with an invisible zip pocket; reflective elements; full-length YKK® zipper; and silicone gripper inside the hem. The colder-weather cousin of Angeline, Constance has large, sublimated stripes in luxurious colour combinations."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Cafe du Cycliste:
76% recycled polyamide (nylon) and 24% elastane
fabric made in Italy
embossed CAFÉ logo on the hip
Fabric four-way stretch
3 cargo pockets
zip pocket for valuables
OEKO-TEX® fabric and bluesign®.
made in Europe
Every element feels secure, durable, and carefully considered. Really enjoyed the almost golden rope effect employed over the cargo pockets – in contrast with the largely hidden stitching across the garment. To give an idea of how it feels, the material isn't hugely thick and doesn't have any structural strength in its nylon and elastene materials.
Breathable and kept me warm on a bitter day, though it doesn't have any special protection for wind blocking. I would need more layers for the deeper end of winter and definitely needed my baselayer. It's handy that the jersey dries quickly because it certainly doesn't deflect the rain.
Apart from the shortcomings of a cream jersey in autumn conditions, nothing to suggest it won't last, with its fancy detailing and four-way stretch.
It's a tight fit without being restrictive, though the material collects a little on the elbows and shoulders. And I found the body slightly short, especially at the front, while the sleeves were the perfect length.
I would say the size large was right for my 188cm and 84kg, but comes up a little short in the body, especially at the front, so make sure your bibs rise up enough. The sleeves were the perfect length for me - cutting off just before the gloves.
Pretty good for something that provides reasonable insulation.
Lovely to wear, a silky smooth material and nice finishes throughout. Cafe de Cycliste implies that the micro-brushed finished inside adds to wicking and breathability, which is hard to quantify, but it definitely makes it incredibly soft on the skin.
The material functions very well and all the stitching, joins, and zippers are befitting an expensive product, but equally well-performing jerseys are available for a lot less.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to wash, just follow the inside-out and non-bio instructions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great for the spring/autumn months when short sleeves are firmly in the drawer. Needed my underlayer for sure.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The seamless stitching and the elasticated fit. That and the flying orange fish on my breast. It's an interesting looking jersey.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's hard to see past the price – I'd rather have two jerseys than one, or some pretensions to protect you from moisture and the coldest winds.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are more expensive jerseys, but they tend to offer extra protection from wind or rain. It's a lovely jersey to look at and to wear, but plenty of much cheaper jerseys offer much the same in terms of 'performance'.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If this was closer to the £120 mark then it would score slightly higher, but considering the competition, the Constance jersey could do more to provide extra – some water and wind protection. It's delightful to wear, looks great, fits beautifully, and every element feels hardwearing and durable, but that's the minimum you would expect for this price. It lacks the versatility of jerseys from other brands.
About the tester
I usually ride: Pearson Hammerandtongs My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Ultra endurance