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The Rapha Men’s Classic Jersey II is flaunting some new eco-credentials over the previous version, thanks to the inclusion of recycled polyester in the merino blend. Thankfully this hasn't affected the breathability, fit or comfort its predecessor enjoyed.
Tass reviewed the Women’s Classic Jersey II last month, and to be honest I could have saved myself an hour by copy-and-pasting her text and deleting the word 'women's'. I'm of exactly the same opinion about this top.
Rapha has delivered a top-quality jersey here, and not just in the way it fits and performs. It's also how they've focused on all those little details.
The big change for this version is that the 64% polyester element of the Performance Merino 150 fabric (it's 36% merino wool) is from a recycled source. If you see yourself as someone who plays their role when it comes to the environment, that can only be a good thing.
The material feels soft against the skin and breathability isn't an issue. I would say, though, that the fabric is a little on the weighty side for a summer jersey compared to some on the market.
I felt most comfortable wearing the Rapha on days below 20°C, especially if I had a harder session planned as on the climbs – then I found it would get a bit overwhelmed.
Obviously, the full zip means you can undo it for a bit of extra air flow, at least, and once descending or cruising along the flat, the airflow through the material lets you dry pretty quickly.
Fit-wise the Classic is relaxed, using what Rapha calls its 'Refined Classic fit'. It's still a close-fitting road jersey, but there is room to move and breathe, plus the sizing is a little more generous.
I like the cut. It's tailored to your body in a riding position, offers plenty of coverage at the rear (which stays put with a silicone gripper), and the shoulders and arms fit close to stop any flapping at speed. As for the rest of it, the Classic has everything a high-end jersey should have.
The neck is a medium height – enough to keep the breeze out on a chilly day, but not so snug that warm air can't escape. It has a soft fleece lining for comfort, and a zip garage to stop any irritation at the neck.
The zip garage is a continuation of the strip that works as a baffle for the full length of the zip. One thing I would like to see is it fold into a garage at the bottom, too. This can stop you catching and bobbling a pair of shorts when in a tucked position.
Round the back are three pockets in a traditional horizontal layout, and this is one of the places where Rapha has put a bit of thought in.
Pocket depth is great; about 190mm on the middle one. It's quite narrow, but with its elasticated loop for a mini-pump you can kind of see why. I wouldn't be keeping anything in it that I'd require on the fly, though, as I can't easily get my hand in. The two outer pockets are much wider, and I like how they're slanted for easier access on the bike.
Another detail I like is the section of thicker fabric along the tops of the pockets. This should increase longevity, and help reduce sag in the pockets when loaded.
For your valuables you'll also find a zipped pocket incorporated with the right-hand pocket. It's not massive, but easily swallows a debit card, some cash and a bunch of keys.
The overall quality is very high indeed. There are no stray threads here and there; it's a tiny thing as no one else will ever see them as such things are hidden inside, but if you've just blown £110 on a jersey, you're going to want it looking pretty much perfect.
That brings us to the value side of things...
At £110 the Classic Jersey II is hardly what you'd call cheap, especially as you can get similar things for far less. I was very impressed recently with the Madison Roam Men’s Merino SS Jersey, for instance, which has the same ratio of merino and polyester. It has a touch more relaxed fit than the Rapha, but not by much, and it'll cost you just £59.99.
Then again, it's easy to spend more as well. Pat was a fan of the 7mesh Ashlu Merino Jersey a little while back, and while that does have a much higher merino content than the Rapha at 89%, it also costs a cool £130.
The Classic II is excellent, and really has everything covered when it comes to comfortable road jerseys. You're paying a premium for the quality and attention to detail, but then it's still far from the most expensive out there.
Impressively comfortable and breathable jersey, with an exceptional fit and attention to detail
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Men's Classic Jersey II
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, "A new, lower impact generation of Rapha's iconic jersey made with recycled fibres."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
RPM150 fabric – now with recycled materials
Zip tape made from recycled materials
Refined Classic fit for all-day comfort
Bonded front hem and zip placket for reduced bulk
Cord lock adjuster at the hem for adjustable fit
Reinforced rear pockets with angled opening
One-piece contrast zip guard avoids irritation at the chin
Pump loop inside rear pocket
Zipped essentials pocket with reflective trim for visibility
64% Recycled Polyester
36% Merino Wool
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues whatsoever after following the washing instructions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A quality cycling jersey that can be worn whatever your style of riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I would like to see a zip garage at the bottom to protect shorts.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's at the higher end of the price range, as shown by the competition I've picked up on in the review. It's far from the most expensive though.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
As you can see from the main review, there really is very little to criticise the Classic II for. My gripe about the lower zip garage is a trivial one, and while some may turn their nose up at the price, I don't think it is extortionate for its quality and performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!