With the women’s Brevet, Rapha has aimed squarely at producing a garment suitable for endurance riding. The resulting product isn’t just good for that purpose though – it also makes a soft, comfortable and immensely practical long-sleeved jersey for transitional seasons, and riders who aren’t a fan of traditional Lycra garments.
In fact, I found myself reaching for this jersey with increasing regularity for all my rides, as it's properties make it comfortable and practical for commuting as much as endurance.
Made of a merino and polyester blend, the Brevet Jersey has a natural, soft skin-feel so donning it is more like putting on a light (albeit fitted) jumper or top rather than sliding yourself into Lycra. We also noted the usual advantages of merino wool when using the jersey: hours of riding later and no smelly armpits. Good insulation and breathability provided by the Smartwool fabric kept the temperature stable whether exerting on climbs or in the face of breezy, cold descents.
The Brevet has a looser fit which allows layering, and is also ideal for those who don’t want an all-out sport look to their cycling wardrobe. We did notice the garment began to bag a little at the elbows after several hours riding, but otherwise held its shape well.
We’ve tried a few wool jerseys and the fit and construction of the Brevet is certainly one of the best. A good degree of stretch and a ribbed knit in the fabric means it sits well on the body and moves easily as you do.
As it’s constructed from merino wool, it does require care when washing, using a sub-30 degree temperature setting on the machine. I’ve washed the test garment several times and it’s happily kept it’s shape and vibrancy.
Talking of vibrancy, this is due in large part to the vivid pink hue of the jersey. It’s bright, eye-catching and certainly makes you stand out on the road. To aid visibility further, and for decorative purposes, there are two horizontal bands at chest level all about the jersey; one a dark black/blue, and one in reflective white. Matching bands on the cuffs give you a little extra when signalling.
Pink is a signature colour for Rapha, so it's hardly surprising that the jersey comes in this vibrant hue which also stands brightly against dingy autumn backgrounds when out riding. Happily, for riders who don't fancy pink, there is also an on-trend burgundy shade in the range.
What makes this jersey immensely practical for long rides are the pockets. There are a whopping five pockets packed into the Brevet: three deep cargo pockets, of ample size to take all the usual nutrition and maintenance essentials, a sizable zipped pocket for keys, money or phone, and a large zipped mesh pocket. This last pocket spans the width of the back, and is perfect for stowing layers like waterproofs, arm warmers or leg warmers on long rides though of course the more you pack in, the more the jersey will sit out and away from the skin.
To keep the rear in place there's a silicone gripper band along the dropped rear hem, and a draw cord at either side for further stability and security. I found the latter particularly useful for keeping the breezes out and the hem tight to the body when we'd loaded the large mesh cargo pocket with gear.
Size-wise, I tried a medium and it was a good match to a UK 12 / US 8. The length of the sleeves and body was pleasingly generous for an above-average height rider – I'm 5ft 8in. As mentioned, the fit is designed to be fairly loose so if you do want a closer fit it's worth going down a size, particularly if you sit towards the lower end of a size range.
The Brevet Jersey retails at £140 / $210 / AU$250 which is within the expected range for a performance garment featuring merino wool.
Overall, if you are looking for a jersey for long, long rides, or just looking for a long-sleeve that’s practical and has a more natural feel, then the Brevet is for you.