Cafe du Cycliste women’s Violette jersey review£104.00

Versatile mid-weight merino top

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Café du Cycliste is a young French cycling clothing company based in Nice. With its testing ground taking in locations fit to set roadies drooling, the brand's website even has a section dedicated to ride routes should you get the chance to visit the Alpes Maritimes and surroundings.

We’ve been testing some of the company’s 2015 summer range and signature items (though not around the Côte d'Azur, sadly), with our first impressions being pretty positive. The clothing is definitely designed for the 'lifestyle' market, rather than riders with elite racing aspirations, with some pleasing attention to detail setting it apart from the herd.

The relaxed fit holds its shape without revealing every facet of yours: the relaxed fit holds its shape without revealing every facet of yours
The relaxed fit holds its shape without revealing every facet of yours: the relaxed fit holds its shape without revealing every facet of yours

The women's Violette short sleeve jersey

The women’s Violette short sleeve jersey is a wool / polyester blend that's well matched to the 'classic' aesthetic the French brand has aimed for. The wool means it won’t hold onto sweat or stink the way some synthetic materials tend to, and the polyester helps the jersey to maintain a flattering fit and shape. Unlike some much tighter jerseys we’ve tested recently, the Violette stays securely in place when riding, meaning there’s no need to reposition the waistband at stop-lights.

The constuction of the pocket area meant this jersey stayed in place exceptionally well: the constuction of the pocket area meant this jersey stayed in place exceptionally well
The constuction of the pocket area meant this jersey stayed in place exceptionally well: the constuction of the pocket area meant this jersey stayed in place exceptionally well

Out back, the pockets are on the generous side

We’ve been pleased with the comfort and durability of the Violette over the test period, but as mentioned above it’s the large number of finer details that have had me reaching for it again and again. The back pockets of my extra-small test jersey are deep and roomy. A thick, internal band of elastic above these pockets stops them pulling the jersey out of shape when loaded up. Reflective strips on the seams between the pockets add functionality, without spoiling the elegant design.

Tiny holes make space for your earphones. The collar is nice and high to keep you protected from the sun. The sleeve length is flattering and the edging adds to the relaxed feel – although I did find it scrunched up a bit if I put another layer over the top.

The Violette is designed to be worn with the Antoinette bib shorts, which we’ve reviewed separately, but you could pair it with stable bib shorts or three-quarters from another brand and it would still look the part – something that’s increasingly difficult with the number of matchy-matchy sets on offer from other companies.

Conclusion: impressive, understated comfort

Café du cycliste logos are nice and subtle: café du cycliste logos are nice and subtle
Café du cycliste logos are nice and subtle: café du cycliste logos are nice and subtle

Subtle logos and a slimming fit

The Violette jersey suits a rider who wants to feel comfortable without looking either shrink-wrapped or like a billboard. The weight of the material is suited to mid-season use, or people who prefer the moisture-wicking properties of wool to feathery garments in extreme heat. It’s currently only available in Laurel Green, (unlike our sample) but updates to the range are due as the northern hemisphere spring approaches.

The fit and materials of the Violette remind me of the Rapha Lightweight Jersey I put through its paces tested last year (AU$185, US$175, £110.00, no longer available). At AU$164 / $164 / £104 the Violette is comparably priced – you could, obviously, buy two cheaper jerseys for the same spend, if you're after a finer-tuned fit and performance we reckon you won't regret shelling out for a garment that's become one of our go-tos.

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