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The latest version of Rapha's Women's Classic Jersey II is a lovely top for summer rides. It's well made, looks stylish, feels soft and comfortable, and has all the features you'd hope for. That it's now made with recycled polyester just adds to its appeal.
Like the previous Classic II, it's made with Rapha Performance Merino 150 fabric (RPM150), but here the 36% merino is mixed with 64% recycled polyester, upping its eco credentials.
It's lighter and more breathable than the original Classic that Lara tested back in 2010, which had 39% merino in its Sportwool mix. It might not be first choice for blisteringly hot days, especially if you're really pushing it, but for more relaxed rides on warm days it's a great choice.
It does feel a little more delicate than the original (which I still have in my wardrobe, still going strong), with a couple of tiny snags showing in the fabric.
It has what Rapha calls a 'Refined Classic fit' for 'all-day comfort', with slight shaping to the body to take into account curves, and I found it just right. It sits comfortably on the hips with an elasticated section at the rear of the hem, with a cord lock to tighten it if necessary. A line of silicone gripper holds it in place reasonably well.
There's no silicone (or elastic) on the sleeve hems, but though they feel slightly loose at first, once on the bike the cuffs stay in place comfortably. It's not pretending to be an aero jersey, it's more about all-day comfort, and I'm very happy with that.
Only some of the seams are flatlock stitched, but nothing irritates at all. The collar has a soft fleecy strip that sits comfortably against the neck, and there's a zip garage at the top (formed from the zip baffle) that's nicely styled – it's the same contrast colour as the arm stripe. It really is a nicely made and stylish top.
Three deep pockets hold ride essentials securely, with the right-hand pocket incorporating a small zipped pocket. This has a mesh backing rather than doubling up the RPM fabric, helping prevent heat build-up. It also has reflective trim around the zip; every little helps.
If you like listening to tunes or podcasts while on the move, the right pocket also has a cable port, and there are a couple of loops inside the jersey to keep cables tidy.
The middle pocket also has a stretchy loop for a mini-pump (the original had a pump sleeve sewn in) and the outer two pockets are slightly angled, for easy access.
It's certainly at the expensive end of the market. Using merino in the mix often shoves the price up, but Lusso's 35% merino, 65% polyester option is still only £69.99 and dhb's is £80, with 35% merino.
7mesh's Ashlu, made with 89% merino, 11% nylon, is also £110.
This is a classy bit of kit. It's very well made – if slightly more delicate than its predecessor – looks stylish, and performs really well for relaxed riding in the sun. It's not cheap, but it's £110 well spent.
Really well made, with a perfect style and fit for relaxed rides – an excellent option
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Classic Jersey II
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, 'The original Classic Jersey was Rapha's first ever product. With understated styling and an innovative merino wool blend, it was a bold expression of our mission to create the world's finest cycling apparel. The latest version of the Classic Jersey II retains the refined fit and rider-inspired details of the original but has been updated with a new version of our Rapha Performance Merino 150 (RPM150) fabric which now incorporates recycled fibres. Unlike generic merino blends, RPM150 is light, soft, breathable and adaptable to a huge range of conditions. And with recycled polyester, it's a lower impact option too. Helping your body breathe in hot conditions and insulating when the temperature drops, we believe this to be the most versatile cycling fabric in the world, and it's the product of Rapha's tireless R&D.'
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
Looks to have been very well made. In China.
Early days, but no bobbling after wearing and washing. A tiny snag on the back suggests it might be a little more delicate than its well-worn and ageing sibling.
It's 30g lighter than the original...
It's not cheap, but the quality, style and comfort are worth it, if you have the money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing instructions say 40°C wash – it's come up clean and not shrunk, and no signs of bobbling.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's just lovely. Looks great, feels great, and it's lighter than the original so a better choice for warmer days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Everything. The look, the shape, the light and soft fabric. Plus the use of recycled polyester.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like the price to be lower...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's certainly at the expensive end of the market. Using merino in the mix often shoves the price up, but Lusso's 35% merino, 65% polyester option is still only £69.99 and dhb's 35% merino option is £80.
7mesh's Ashlu, made with 89% merino, 11% nylon, is also £110.
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
It's excellent. It's well made, a perfect fit for relaxed rides rather than racing, and the lighter – and more eco – fabric makes it a little more versatile than the original, I'd say. It's not cheap, but that is often the way with nice things. I love it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.