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Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Men’s Merino Cycling Jersey



Stylish, well made and great as a mid-layer, but limited as an outer – despite a massively high price
Good shaping
Strong construction
Very expensive
'Insulated' panel vulnerable to windchill
Rather long arms
Only actually 35% merino...
...and the front panels aren't even that

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Cafe du Cycliste Irma Men's Merino Cycling Jersey is very comfortable and feels built to last. It's better as a mid rather than outer layer on cold and windy days, though, plus there are no brightly coloured versions and it's extremely expensive – you're spoilt for choice with good jerseys at half the price.

This is a nice jersey – well shaped, very well made and very comfortable – but at £188, the price is impossible to ignore. While its performance is good, in reality it's no better than a great many tops that cost significantly less.

> Buy this online here

It's even more costly than the MAAP Force Pro Winter LS Jersey, which itself was judged 'very expensive' at £160, and in fact is only topped for price in our recent reviews by the Le Col x McLaren Project Aero LS, which is £195.

That, however, has the twin excuses of being developed in conjunction with F1 windtunnel addict McLaren and using fancy 'aero' fabric, whereas the Irma is more conventional merino.

Merino tends to adds expense over synthetics, but the name is a little disingenuous – this fabric is actually 65% synthetic (polyamide and polypropylene), and only 35% merino wool.

From a performance point of view there's nothing wrong with that, and indeed the Irma's merino blend works very well. Unlike Emma, who tested the women's version, I found it proved warm, soft against the skin and breathable. The sleeves and back are made of it, while the textured front panel and collar are polyester.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - back.jpg

Unfortunately (and again, unlike Emma), I found this polyester – despite being thicker as 'an added layer of insulation on cooler days or fast descents' – significantly less windproof, and not as warm in general either. I actually found my chest would chill on descents (or rest stops) quite easily, while the much thinner fabric on my arms stayed warm and comfortable. Emma, conversely, felt the jersey protected her core well, but not her arms.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - hem.jpg

I also felt these panels were less breathable than the merino-blend back and arms.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - shoulders.jpg

During a largely cold and wet test period I've been wearing it a lot as a mid-layer – over a base and under a waterproof or water-resistant jacket – and in that role it's the kind of thing you never have cause to think about. It just quietly and comfortably does the job.

I like how the size large fits me, even though I'm technically a medium (large covers 102-106cm chests, and mine is 100cm). It's slim all over, with nothing to sag or flap, but leaves me feeling completely unrestricted – just what I'd want from a top designed for long miles on cold days.

> Buyer’s Guide: 19 of the best winter cycling jerseys

I could certainly wear a medium (98-102cm), and the fabric's easy stretch would surely keep it very comfortable still, but if you expect to use this with bulky baselayers then sizing up seems a low-risk option.

The only oddities I found were the arms, which are slim and quite long – the medium's arms would have to be 4cm shorter to be bang on for me. Still, the slight rucking this caused didn't affect comfort at all, even with other layers on top. It also makes them easy to seal over the cuffs of gloves, if not so good if you want them inside.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - cuff.jpg

On the back you get three good, wrist-deep pockets and a slightly shallower mesh one that spans all three. The mesh's top is elastic, and the first 7cm of each side of that elastic is sewn to the jersey, stopping the pocket from gaping open and keeping it pleasingly secure – it's a perfect stash for packable wind or rain layers.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - pockets.jpg

You'll need those too, as this has no water resistance, and as I said, cold winds can cut through the chest. While this is breathable enough to wear as an outer up to around 15°C, I personally wanted at least a windproof gilet over it as the air got nearer 10°C. It's great under a jacket as temperatures drop further.

2022 Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Mens Merino Cycling Jersey - zip pocket.jpg

There's one more pocket: a zipped one on the right, though it's only just big enough for my 16.5cm phone, and with an opening barely 10cm long it's actually easier to jam the phone in than my hand. The silicone-covered fabric zip pull is a nice touch, though, and the main zip is a quality YKK one with a good garage for comfort.


If the front panels were windproof, or the whole thing was the merino blend, this jersey would be a lot more versatile. As it is it's rather limited as an outer layer, and that brings us back to the £188 price...

The Santini Colore Pure Men's LS Jersey is warm, fleecy and just as usable, but only £99. And the Altura Endurance Men's LS Jersey also does a similar job – but with windproofing and DWR water repellency – and is £80.


This jersey is well made and a great shape, but the polyester panels and lack of wind/rain protection really limit its usefulness as an outer layer. And while it's great as a mid-layer for cold days, it just doesn't justify its huge premium over a host of cheaper competition.


Stylish, well made and great as a mid-layer, but limited as an outer – despite a massively high price test report

Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Irma Men's Merino Cycling Jersey

Size tested: Large

Tell us what the product is for

CdC says: "Part of our Audax collection, Irma is built for bigger rides and tougher roads and features a raft of distance detailing. Odour resistant, fast drying and exceptionally breathable, the high performance merino blend protects when the temperature drops but naturally helps regulate your core temperature when it rises again."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

CdC lists:

-35% merino | 40% polyamide | 25% polypropylene

-audax jersey

-high performance fabrics

-moisture management properties

-oversized reflective elements

-three cargo pockets

-zipped pockets

-unique 'drop' pocket

-full zip with guard

-classic fit

-made in europe

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:
Rate the product for sizing:
Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:
Rate the product for value:

This is twice the price of many jerseys that work as well or better.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

The usual 30° thing is fine.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Great as a mid-layer, vulnerable to wind as an outer.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Great fit, merino panels work well, looks good.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

No bright colours, polyester panels lose heat to wind.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

It's very expensive – you'd be hard pressed to find one for more.

Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a good mid-layer but very expensive, and works no better than many jerseys at half the price. The quality is very high, and there's lots to like, but the price is hard to ignore. 

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

Add new comment


Prosper0 | 2 years ago
1 like

It's a tough gig, even at this level. The comparison would be the Rapha Brevet jersey. High quality, similar classic cut, long sleeved, wool windblock jersey. Only the Rapha is 90% merino whereas this is only 35%, and at £145 is a lot cheaper!

Not often you can say it, but Rapha is the bargain choice. 

ktache replied to Prosper0 | 2 years ago

My better half got me one of those rapha brevit jerseys, damn fine it is too.  Very comfy, packs down small and lightweight, good for 10-15 degrees, shrugs off drizzle.

EddyBerckx | 2 years ago

They came on the scene a few years back as a quirky Rapha alternative...then at some point increased their prices by around 30% while Rapha dropped theirs. If people buy it then good luck to them I suppose, there is plenty of choice either way 


Chris Hayes | 2 years ago

"has no water resistance, and [...] cold winds can cut through the chest"....sounds like a bargain! 

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