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The Rapha + Outdoor Voices Jersey is perfect for those reluctant to pull on a skin-tight top but keen to experience fabric that performs on the bike. With ample storage space and a comfortable, relaxed fit, it's ideal for long days on a variety of terrains, though the price will put some off.
Although the range is targeting women who want adventure and fun over racing and speed, the jersey has what Rapha calls a 'pro fit', saying it's 'designed to sit close to the skin, with a high stretch fabric that hugs the body' and describing the fabric as 'aero'. (If Rapha's collaboration with Outdoor Voices passed you by, you can read about it here.)
I'd say its cut is akin to what a more casual roadie or gravel/adventure rider might look for, with plenty of length in the body, and the sleeves don't stop short either. The sleeve cuffs fit comfortably, too, and don't leave a mark.
I tested a medium, falling into a small chest-wise and a medium waist-wise, and had plenty of breathing room, though not to the extent that the jersey was baggy. (It's not me in the photos.) It's not an all-out racing jersey for sure, and most of my testing was done while gravel riding and on mini-tours.
It's lightweight and very breathable, perfect for summer riding. The 88% polyester, 12% elastane composition makes for a soft, stretchy fabric that feels comfortable even without a baselayer. Rapha points out that it is dyed and sublimated, so there should be no white out when the fabric is stretched (as can sometimes happen with cheaper jerseys).
The fabric washes well and dries out very quickly too. The panel that sits behind the pockets, together with the tail, has a slightly more open weave in comparison to the main fabric of the jersey – a thoughtful detail that offers extra breathability for the part that is pressed against the body when the pockets are loaded. And there are a lot of pockets...
First, three conventional pockets at the rear are roomy and well positioned; then there is an integrated see-through phone pocket sitting on top of the central pocket, big enough for an uncased, 6-inch smartphone. The flap over the top of this pocket doesn't make access easy, though, so I'd say it's best to pack it before putting on the jersey.
Also, stuffing the central pocket isn't ideal if you are using the phone pocket for its intended purpose – I couldn't get my phone out if I did this. I found the see-through pocket more useful for keys and coins.
Lateral zips give access to a storage 'sleeve' that sits behind the three rear pockets, but there's a limit to the amount of kit you can fit into it before things start feeling rather uncomfortable on the lower back.
Finally, there's also a loop in the phone pocket to attach an included accessory case to.
With all this storage going on, Rapha has placed two strips of tape inside the jersey to help support and stabilise it, particularly useful if pockets are unevenly loaded. And, quite simply, it works – impressive on a relaxed fit jersey.
Other details and finishing are what you would expect from a jersey in this price bracket: as well as a full-length zip guard, there's a garage to prevent neck irritation, reinforced pocket joints, matching sleeve and pocket binding, and a suede-like lining at the collar.
Although the jersey is designed for long days in the saddle, it's not that great when it comes to reflective detailing: a Rapha + Outdoor Voices logo on the upper right shoulder and, oddly, one on the inside zip guard.
The green option I tested is no longer available, but red and pale blue are, the latter without the terrazzo pattern.
In-house comparisons might suggest that the jersey is a little overpriced. Okay, it's no surprise that Rapha's 'more affordable' Core range jerseys, both standard and lightweight models (male versioned reviewed here), are half the price, but its Classic Flyweight Jersey is still £30 cheaper too.
You can, of course, pay less: Lusso's Merino Plum Jersey doesn't have the same storage, but it's £50 less than the Rapha.
The Rapha + Outdoor Voices Jersey is versatile and performs well on a variety of terrains, and its comfort, storage options and novel stabilising features are all selling points, though whether they fully justify the price tag is hard to say.
Comfortable and high-performance jersey with innovative storage for long days in the saddle
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Outdoor Voices Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, 'This jersey is for those who love to do their moving on a bike, made with a high performance fabric that's cool and comfortable too. Featuring an integrated see-through phone pocket, a matching essentials case for keeping smaller items safe and sound, it's perfect for all-day bike rides where more storage options are required.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Matching essentials case in back pocket.
-Aero fabric with beautiful texture and contrast.
-All materials dyed and sublimated – no white-out stretch effect of cheaper jerseys.
-Matching sleeve and pocket binding.
-Rear pocket features through zip with custom pullers.
-Integrated see-through phone pocket on back pockets.
-Back tape to support pockets.
-Super technical material with high stretch, fast-wicking and breathability.
Encouraging to see reinforcement tabs at the pocket joints.
Relaxed. Generous sleeve length. Decent tail.
Stay true to size to get the intended relaxed fit.
Exceptionally comfortable, though fully loading of the pockets may lead to irritation on the lower back.
Expensive, but you get plenty of storage features and 'technology' to cope with loading them all. And there are others that cost more...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, no issues with fabric deterioration during the test period.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you cool and comfortable, and can carry more kit than the average jersey, if you want it to.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The relaxed fit, ideal for gravel and adventure riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a lot, maybe a bit overkill on the pockets for me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Top end; there are certainly cheaper ones out there.
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
I can't fault the jersey's performance, construction, fit or comfort, and few offer the same storage, but some of that extra space, even though it is supported and stabilised, isn't as well placed or easily accessible as it could be. It's also pretty pricey.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…